Talking Iraq Blues

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A report gathered by the U.S. House Committee on Government Reform at the behest of my congressman, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), issued on Tuesday, catalogs misleading public statements by Bush administration officials during the buildup to the Iraq war.

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  1. Should five percent appear too small
    Be thankful I don’t take it all.
    ‘Cause I’m the Waxman,
    Yeah, I’m the Waxmaaaan.

  2. Jeez-us! Did we taxpayers actually pay someone to watch and listen to years of videotapes just to prove that politicians are misleading us?

    For what it’s worth, even without doing a detailed study, I think McDonald’s and Nike have mislead us at least that many times.

  3. What partisan nonsense. If you listen to George Tenent, the intelligence community (not only ours, but of our partners, as well) had a very high certainty that Iraq did, indeed, possess WMD. They were shocked that it hasn’t been rediculously easy to find them. Moreover, the Clinton administration was just as sure of Iraq’s WMD programs.

    We can argue, as well-meaning people, about how to improve our intelligence services so they make less mistakes, but to insist that “Bush lied, people died” is in itself, a lie. It’s been debunked over and over again, but the damn thing just won’t die.

  4. If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street,
    If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat.
    If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat,
    If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.
    Waxman!

  5. Waxman, shouldn’t you be waxing all those things?

  6. No discussion of the run-up to war is complete without at least passing mention of the corruption within the UN the required Saddam to remain in power:

    http://www.techcentralstation.com/021604B.html
    http://forums.transnationale.org/viewtopic.php?t=5107
    http://66.34.106.174/web/htm/news/nws/news040211b.html
    http://www.madkane.com/wwwboard/messages/6628.html
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/03/14/wiraq14.xml
    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1099449/posts

    I think Reason has been a bit behind the curve on this one (OK, I admit I haven’t read the April issue yet – maybe its in there somewhere)

  7. Jason,

    It’s hardly been debunked. Greg Thielmann, a former director of the Strategic, Proliferation and Military Affairs Office at the State Department’s Intelligence Bureau, accuses the White House of “systematic, across-the-board exaggeration” of intelligence as it made its case that Saddam Hussein posed an imminent threat to the U.S. Thielmann, who left his job in September 2002, also contends that much of the intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was entirely politicized. “Senior officials made statements which I can only describe as dishonest,” he says. “They were distorting some of the information that we provided to make it seem more alarmist and more dangerous.”

    What we KNOW is that the CIA told administration officials that there were those who thought Hussein had WMD’s and there were those who thought he didn’t. The information that Rice, Cheney, Powell, et al chose to pass on to the President and the American people was that there was “no doubt” that Hussein had WMD’s. That was, simply and inarguably, a lie. Did Bush lie? I don’t know. There’s not really any evidence to suggest that he’s smart enough to do it as well as his cabinet members.

  8. And it always concerns me when U.S. citizens find corruption in the U.S. government less important than corruption in other governing bodies.

  9. fyodor,

    Me humble civil servant. But you right.

    Now my advice for those who die,
    Declare the pennies on your eyes
    ‘Cause I’m the Waxman, yeah, I’m the Waxman
    And you’re working for no one but me,
    Waxman!

  10. As my bloggees know, Waxman forgot to include himself in the list:

    I agree with [Bush’s] conclusion that we cannot leave Saddam to continue on his present course. No one doubts that he is trying to build a nuclear device, and when he does, his potential for blackmail to dominate the Persian Gulf and Middle East will be enormous, and our efforts to deal with him be even more difficult and perilous. The risks of inaction clearly outweigh the risks of action.

  11. Lonewacko, was Waxman getting unfiltered info from the CIA like the administration was? Or was he getting information from the administration? I’m genuinely curious.

  12. I can’t believe I wasted my time reading through this. This is the sort of cringe-inducing partisan hackery that should humiliate those who opposed the war.

  13. “Partison hackery” is an excellent description, but shouldn’t it just humiliate people who support Waxman? There are lots of nutjobs and even scumbags who opposed the war, but it doesn’t follow that thoughtful and honest people who opposed it should therefore be humiliated.

  14. Waxman’s a goddman dinosaur.

  15. “programs” and “trying” aren’t weapons. There were two choices in the winter of 02/03 – keep trying to change things via means short of war, which left the option for a future war open, or start up the bombin’ and killin’.

    Bush never even tried to resolve this situation peacefully, or to build the type of international alliance that would hang together when the going got tough.

    Let me know when we get to the part that the French say they were wrong, the Palestinians commit to good faith negotiations, and the Middle East is full of democracies.

  16. R.C.,

    Well, we know it’s wrong, but we don’t know why. If the choice is between Joe simply being mistaken or deliberately lying in order to change minds here, then I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and bet my money that he made a mistake.

    Now, if Joe were a high-ranking government official, whose job it was to give the U.S. taxpayers an objective description of the events leading up to the invasion, then I’d say he was lying (or, in a best case scenario, completely inept). But since he’s just a fella who, like all of us, occasionally lets his passions overwhelm his sense of objective reality, I’m willing to think he made an honest mistake.

    That people on both sides of this issue are guilty of this from time to time certainly shouldn’t concern thinking people nearly as much as the inarguable fact that members of the Bush administration blatently lied to the American people (and our allies) in order to gain support for a war which has cost thousands of lives.

  17. http://www.atrios.blogspot.com/2004_03_14_atrios_archive.html#107957746331142482

    Bush’s speech the day he started the war. Pretty clear what we went to war for. Pretty clear it was bullshit. Pretty clear Bush claimed to know things he did not know, because they have been proven to be untrue.

  18. Ahh, nice. As if “intelligence” amounted to actual knowledge of something.

    We all know now that the Russians had missiles in Cuba in ’62, and probably going back a couple years before that, right?

    And how do we know? Don’t tell me it’s because we had pictures. While the pictures are nice intel, they only give about 50% of the story. Similar pictures taken of the fortifications at Normandy in early 1944 indicated that the Germans had installed huge coastal defense guns, along the lines of the 10 and 12 inch naval guns. When the troops scaled the cliffs, they found telephone poles, painted to look like big guns. So much for the intel. Ought we to say, Eisenhower lied, people died?

    Of course not. There was a larger context militating in favor of the invasion of occupied Europe, much as the war in Iraq had a half dozen or eight strong arguments in its favor, not the least of which were Saddam’s constant destabilization of middle eastern politics, the mass graves, the occasional invasion of neighbors, the starvation of his own people, and the fact he failed to produce evidence that he had dismantled his WMD programs. Humint sources close to Saddam indicated he was still cutting checks to his weapons scientists, the Iraqi Army pulled all sorts of shenanigans, emptying labs just before announced inspections, and lots of dual use technology was flowing in from all over.

    Based on the admittedly incomplete picture, the Administration decided what the intel probably meant, and ran with it. Would anybody otherwise ever go to war with “well, we kinda deduce that ___ caused it.”

    The seriousness of the threat is in inverse relationship to the point at which leaders decide to act. If a very serious threat is posed, and the intelligence is spotty, leaders will sometimes act because the penalty for inaction (see, e.g. 9/11) is too severe. If the threat is minor, action will occur only if the intelligence is very good; the minor threat doesn’t justify the leap of faith required.

    The point being, basing operational decisions on intelligence isn’t anything like a perfect science. It’s a bit like card counting in blackjack. You will lose a lot, but if you do it right, you will win more often than you lose.

    Acting like intel sources are supposed to be 100% accurate, or even 75% accurate, is a fool’s game; it’s like getting upset in that blackjack game when you lose a couple hands, even though the odds were in your favor.

  19. That’s all well and good and somewhat relevent.

    However, it doesn’t mean that it’s okay to lie to the American people to convince them that war is necessary (even if it is). And when one report that there is “no doubt” about something when one has been told that there is, indeed, doubt, then one has lied, pure and simple.

    You can state all the truisms you want about intelligence analysis and it won’t change the fact that Cheney, Rice, Powell, et al are liars. If it is necessary to go to war, I, for one, don’t want liars leading us into it.

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