The true value of a community, a nation or a business evolves from the integrity of its members, from their ability to distinguish between right and wrong and to adhere to moral principles. Integrity is learned from the teachings and examples of one’s parents, teachers, associates and leaders, and from the give and take of life experiences. Integrity is protected by a society that practices justice through law.
Over the years the United States of America has benefited from citizens of integrity who built a society that became the envy of most of the world. Now, however, as we begin the twenty-first century, America is suffering from a disastrous loss of integrity at the highest levels, in both government and business. Of special concern is the lying and deceit that currently plague our White House and Congress. The right-wing Republicans who now lead those institutions have abandoned the truth, representing as true what is known to be false and doing it so effectively that what is false is widely accepted as being true. In so doing they are seriously transforming the choice way of life Americans created over many decades.
It is time for American patriots to stand up and fight for their cherished way of life.
Extremism has been festering for years in the right wing of the Republican party, but it has grown steadily more dangerous, now infecting the party’s national leadership. Some Republicans noted the existence of these extremists years ago and opposed them, but not until one of their own, David Brock, defected and described in detail in Blinded by the Right the inner workings and the players in that gang, that cabal, did I realize the enormity of their threat to the American way of life. Read it and learn about the extremists now working in or advising at the highest levels of our federal government, including Vice President Dick Cheney, Trent Lott, Newt Gingrich, Kenneth Starr, Tom Delay, John Ashcroft, Ted Olson, Spencer Abraham, Clarence Thomas, Bob Bork, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Grover Norquist, Paul Wolfowitz and the billionaire extremist who financed much of this movement, Richard Mellon Scaife.
Brock describes how he helped “create a highly profitable, right-wing, big lie machine that flourished in book publishing, on talk radio and on the Internet through the 1990s, gaining him standing ovations at right-wing gatherings. He relates how his bestseller book, The Real Anita Hill, “was almost precisely the opposite of the truth.” He points out how leading conservatives including Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, Richard Mellon Scaife and Bob Tyrell “said one thing in public and did the opposite in private.”
The Bush administration plays a similar game of deception. Part of their game is to label a program to appeal to the people and then do the opposite. It started with the president’s campaign implying he was a moderate by calling himself a “compassionate conservative.” After almost three years the compassion has yet to surface, while his right-wing conservatism flourishes. He promotes programs that downgrade environmental protection and gives them pro-environment titles—Healthy Forests, Clear Skies, Freedom Car—and describes them as helpful to the environment.
He promises “to leave no child behind” but then under funds his education program, causing major problems for schools nationwide. He runs what have been called “Robin Hood in reverse tax policies,” taking from the poor and giving to the rich. He declared, in his January 28, 2003, State of the Union address, “This tax relief is for everyone who pays income taxes,” but analysis shows that 8.1 million taxpayers with lower incomes will not benefit. He says he champions civil rights and appoints judges whose records clearly show they do not support such rights.
Beware of how the members of his administration use the term “jobs.” They and their business colleagues say they will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, but instead foster legislative proposals that will have little or no impact on jobs. They oppose environmental regulations that actually create jobs, claiming they will cause the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs. The list goes on and on, but it reached the pinnacle when the president personally, supported by all his key subordinates, misled the American people and the world community repeatedly about his reasons for going to war with Iraq. The administration began laying the groundwork for this war early on. On September 8, 2002, Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice reported on national television that Iraq was secretly importing aluminum tubes to be used in producing weapon grade uranium; and National Security Adviser Rice warned, “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” Statements like this proliferated until, in his 2003 State of the Union address, President Bush also stated, “Year after year Saddam Hussein has gone to elaborate lengths, spent enormous sums, taken great risks to build and keep weapons of mass destruction.”
He followed this on March 17, 2003, in a televised speech to the nation, where he said, “Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.” This view was reinforced by Vice President Dick Cheney’s assertion, “Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.” Cheney also warned that, “One of the real concerns about [Saddam Hussein] is his biological weapons capability.”
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s statement, “No terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to our people than the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq,” further reinforced the president’s statements.
“They just don’t seem concerned about the difference between what they say and what really is, wrote Independent Progressive columnist Adrianna Huffington. “The best explanation I can come up with is that we are being governed by a gang of out-and-out fanatics. The defining trait of the fanatic–be it a Marxist, a fascist, or gulp, a Wolfowitz–is the utter refusal to allow anything as piddling as evidence to get in the way of an unshakable belief.”
“Deception and Democracy,” the lead article in the June 2003 New Republic notes that, “In the summer of 2002, Vice President Cheney made several visits to the CIA’s Langley headquarters, which were understood within the Agency as an attempt to pressure the low-level specialists interpreting the raw intelligence. ‘That would freak people out,’ said one former CIA official. ‘It is supposed to be an ivory tower. And that kind of pressure would be enormous on these young guys.'”
That same month, Paul Krugman’s June 3, 2003, article The New York Times stated, “Suggestions that the public was manipulated into supporting an Iraq war gain credibility from the fact that misrepresentation and deception are standard operating procedure for this administration, which–to an extent never before seen in U.S. history–systematically and brazenly distorts the facts.”
Here are seven reasons the Bush administration has given for going to war:
1. Iraq has weapons of mass destruction
2. It is an immediate threat to our security
3. It is linked to al Qaeda
4. It has secretly procured aluminum tubes that could be used in producing uranium
5. It has recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Niger
6. It has mobile labs for producing biological weapons
7. It has killed thousands of people with poison gas
Today all seven now are known to be false.
Prior to the war, the United Nations Security Council did try to discover whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction by sending its highly experienced, professional inspection team under Hans Blix back into Iraq to search, but they found no sign of any. The UN team wanted to continue searching, but the U.S. leaders blocked such action. After all, they were already committed to going to war and needed to get on with their promise to protect Americans from attacks by Iraqi terrorists whose weapons, according to information supplied by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, could reach us in forty-five minutes.
When Hans Blix retired on June 30, 2003, he expressed his belief that the Iraqis had destroyed their weapons of mass destruction, as they contended.
The Bush administration was nasty to France, because—instead of supporting the United States—France had led fellow Security Council members Russia, Germany, and China in opposing a UN resolution to sanction an invasion of Iraq. I believe the Council did so because they knew the Bush administration was not telling the truth about its reasons for invading. After all, these three powerful, experienced countries do have excellent intelligence agencies of their own.
Just before the war, in a February 14, 2003, New York Times op-ed piece, the French Ambassador to the United States explained his country’s caution about taking the offensive with Iraq: “Although we believe that the biggest threat to peace and stability is al Qaeda, we haven’t seen any evidence of a direct link between the Iraq regime and al Qaeda.” He pointed out that Iraq was not an immediate threat and that it would be difficult to bring democracy to a country as complex as Iraq, warning “You can’t create democracy with bombs.” And finally he pointed out that “a war in Iraq could result in more frustration and bitterness in the Arab and Muslim worlds.”
Both diplomatically and with regard to security, it was unwise to antagonize two atomic powers, Russia and France, because they didn’t support the United States decision to “protect” itself from a country seven-thousand miles away that had no nuclear capability. According to James Risin’s June 18, 2003, column in The New York Times, a Defense Intelligence Agency report in November 2002 stated that Saddam Hussein was not likely to use his weapons of mass destruction “short of an all out invasion of Iraq,” or if “regime survival was imminently threatened.” This supported George Tenet’s earlier letter to Congress in which he wrote, “Iraq might use its weapons but only if attacked.”
If anyone had any doubt about Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction, it should have been dispelled when the United States and Britain invaded and overwhelmed the Iraqi forces. Can you imagine a brutal dictator like Saddam Hussein, with his whole empire collapsing around him, not unleashing his most powerful weapons, his weapons of mass destruction? Certainly not, because he didn’t have any. And that’s why 150,000 American troops scouring Iraq haven’t found any. And that’s also why the warning from President Bush and his team that Iraq was an imminent threat to American security was so shamefully untrue.
The Bush team has repeatedly attempted to exploit the 9/11 terrorist attack by contending there was a link between Iraq and al Qaeda. For example the president, in his victory speech from the deck of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, proclaimed that with their 9/11 attacks on the United States, “the terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States, and war is what they got.” In other words, Iraq was one of those supporters so we got even.
But no one, including British intelligence, has been able to validate an Iraq-al Qaeda link. The United Nations terrorism committee, after an extensive study of Osama bin Laden’s operations worldwide, found no connection with Iraq. Dafna Linzer of the Associated Press, on June 27, 2003, quoted Michael Chandler, the terrorism committee’s chief investigator as saying, “Nothing has come to our notice that would indicate links between Iraq and al Qaeda .” The first they heard of possible links was from Secretary Colin Powell when he addressed the Security Council in February 2003.
Syndicated columnist Bill Press wrote on May 31, 2003, “There is zero evidence of any link between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. No paper trail. No bank accounts. No training camps. No telephone logs. Yes, the al Qaeda network is still alive and still planning acts of terror from inside Afghanistan, Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia. But it apparently never was inside Iraq.”
It also was well known that Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein came from different Muslim sects and hated each other, so it is unlikely they would have helped each other. James Risin in The New York Times on June 9, 2003, reports that according to several intelligence officials, “Two of the highest ranking leaders of al Qaeda in American custody have told the CIA in separate interrogations that the terrorist organizations did not work jointly with the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein.” One of them told his questioners that “the idea of working with Mr. Hussein’s government had been discussed among Qaeda leaders but that Osama bin Laden had rejected such proposals . . . because he didn’t want to be beholden to Mr. Hussein.”
In his 2003 State of the Union Address, the president stated, “Our intelligence sources tell us that he [Saddam Hussein] has attempted to purchase high strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production.” Soon his own Departments of State and Energy proved him wrong. The Department of Energy concluded after consulting with its nuclear experts, that the tubes were the wrong specification to be used to enrich uranium. The State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research concluded that these tubes, which were openly purchased on the Internet, were to be used for a UN-approved multiple-rocket-launching system. The International Atomic Energy Agency agreed.
The president also said, “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” A few days thereafter the International Atomic Energy Agency informed the world that the British story was based on forged documents. This seemed a mere mistake—until it became known that the administration was aware of the spuriousness of this scare ten months before the president delivered his speech. The best evidence comes from former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV in the July 6, 2003, New York Times. He had served for twenty-three years as a career foreign service officer and ambassador, and had worked in Iraq and Niger, the two countries allegedly involved in uranium ore purchase. Wilson reports how, in February 2002, he was told by the Central Intelligence Agency that it had been asked by Vice President Cheney’s office to check out an intelligence report on the Niger to Iraq issue. The CIA asked Wilson to travel to Niger to do so. He concluded it was extremely doubtful that the alleged transaction occurred, and Niger formally denied the charge. Wilson provided detailed briefing to both the CIA and the State Department’s African Affairs Bureau. The CIA reported back to the vice president.
In view of all the information showing the Niger to Iraq postulation phony, someone needs to explain how it got in the president’s speech. Was it a slipup or the work of one of the hawks around the president? Wilson said in a Washington Post interview, “It really comes down to the administration misrepresenting the facts on an issue that was a fundamental justification for going to war. It begs the question, what else are they lying about?”
What better place to learn of the integrity (or lack thereof) of the Bush administration on intelligence matters than the intelligence community itself? These proud professionals are so embittered by the way their work has been grossly distorted and manipulated by the war hawks running our country that many are now coming forth to say so. Nicholas D. Kristof, in his June 1, 2003, column in The New York Times reports, “The outrage among the intelligence professionals is so widespread that they have formed a group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity that wrote to President Bush this month to protest what it called ‘a policy and intelligence fiasco of monumental proportions.'” Kristof further notes that, “While there have been occasions in the past when intelligence has been deliberately warped for political purposes… never before has such warping been used in such a systematic way to mislead our elected representatives into voting to launch a war.” The political advantage such deceit has gained for our leaders so far is frightening indeed.
The United States claim that Iraq has mobile facilities for producing biological weapons also is highly questionable. The idea of using such facilities was explored many years ago by the U.S. military as a backup for germ warfare manufacturing plants it was operating. Presumably the United States terminated all such activities when we signed the 1975 global treaty banning the use of bio-weapons.
In 1999 an Iraqi engineer who had defected told U.S. officials that he had been involved with a mobile bio-weapon plant. Shortly thereafter, according to a July 2, 2003, New York Times story, the United States constructed a mobile plant to train Special Operations Units. It was “real in all its parts but never actually plugged in,” they said. This background led U.S. leaders to speculate that Iraq had such mobile units. So when our troops found two mobile labs in Iraq that might have been used for a part of a germ-manufacturing process, our leaders called them a “smoking gun.” No evidence has been found to indicate the trailers were ever used to make a biological weapon precursor.
Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet, however, concluded that the trailers were meant for that purpose. The State Department’s intelligence bureau sent a classified document to Secretary Powell on June 2, 2003, questioning Tenet’s appraisal and suggesting that a possible intended use of the trailers was for refueling anti-aircraft missiles. Nevertheless, President Bush, Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Secretary of State Colin Powell have continued to use these trailers as support for their claim that weapons of mass destruction have been found. Iraqis, however, have shown United Nations inspectors many photographs and videos of a variety of purposes for which Iraq has been using such mobile units. Regardless of the use for which these sterile trailers might have been intended, it is hard to envision how anyone could honestly claim that they had found in them the weapons for which they were searching.
James Dao and Thom Shanker reported in The New York Times on May 30, 2003, that Lt. Gen. James Conway, Commander of the First Marine Expeditionary Force in Iraq, told reporters that he was amazed that Iraq did not fire biological or chemical weapons on the American forces marching toward Baghdad. They quote Conway as saying, “It was a surprise to me then, it remains a surprise to me now, that we have not uncovered [such] weapons in some of the forward dispersal sites. Again, believe me, it’s not for lack of trying… What the regime was intending to do in terms of its use of the weapons, we thought we understood. We were simply wrong.”
Five of Saddam Hussein’s most prominent scientists, who had been involved in Iraq’s earlier work with bio-weapons, have been in U.S. custody for months, undergoing intense interrogation. They have been promised safe haven outside Iraq. All five separately and repeatedly testified that Iraq had destroyed its banned weapons after the Gulf War when the Security Council so ordered and have never resumed production. This explains the failure of the United Nations inspectors and the United States and British military to find any.
A further example of misinformation used by the White House in the buildup for war was that Saddam Hussein was responsible for killing thousands of his own citizens with poison gas at Halabja in northern Iraq. Stephen C. Pelletiere, in an op-ed piece in The New York Times on January 31, 2003, throws a different light on this. He explains that he was the senior political analyst on Iraq for the Central Intelligence Agency during the eight-year war between Iran and Iraq, served as a professor at the Army War College from 1988-2000, and headed a 1991 Army investigation into how the Iraqis would conduct a war against the U.S. Both this investigation and one by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency immediately after the Iran-Iraq war reported in depth on the Halabja affair. Both reports are in the U.S. intelligence community’s files.
In 1988 Iran captured Halabja, a Kurdish site just inside the Iraqi border and one which commands the major source of water for the Persian Gulf states. Iraq counterattacked. Both sides used gas—Iraq a mustard gas and Iran a cyanide-based gas, the latter a much more deadly agent. But, as Pelletiere writes, “The condition of the dead Kurds’ bodies, however, indicated they had been killed with a blood agent—that is, a cyanide‑based gas—which Iran was known to use. The Iraqis, who are thought to have used mustard gas in the battle, are not known to have possessed blood agents at the time.”
Pelletiere goes on to state, “I am not trying to rehabilitate the character of Saddam Hussein. He has much to answer for in the area of human- rights abuses. But accusing him of gassing his own people at Halabja as an act of genocide is not correct, because as far as the information we have goes, all of the cases where gas was used involved battles. These were tragedies of war. There may be justification for the United States to invade Iraq, but Halabja is not one of them.”
Despite being aware of this information, the Bush administration continued to misrepresent what occurred at Halabja as part of the planned build-up to war. In consequence of this and other known falsifications, America’s most trustworthy and creditable newspaper, The New York Times, editorialized on June 8, 2003. “If the intelligence is wrong, or the government distorts it, the United States will squander its credibility. Even worse, it will lose the ability to rally the world, and the American people, to the defense of the country when real threats materialize.” To this I add my own opinion that such consequences would be even more serious than removing a sitting president.
Few people are better informed on that subject than former White House counsel John Dean, who blew the whistle on President Nixon. Robert Scheer in the June 20, 2003, Los Angeles Times quoted John Dean’s June 6 contribution to the web site Federal Law: “To put it bluntly if Bush has taken Congress and the nation into war based on bogus information, he is cooked. Manipulation or deliberate misuse of national security intelligence data, if proven, could be a ‘high crime’ under the Constitution impeachment clause. It would also be a violation of federal criminal law, including the broad federal anti-conspiracy statute, which renders it a felony ‘to defraud the United States or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose.'”
Now that it is obvious that the Bush administration leadership has deceived us into war, what are we, the American people, going to do about it?
Disturbingly, most of our political leaders are doing nothing about it. Paul Krugman’s, June 24, 2003, New York Times column said this is “because they don’t want to face the implications. If you admit to yourself that such a thing happened, you have a moral obligation to demand accountability—and to do so in the face not only of a powerful, ruthless political machine but in the face of a country not yet ready to believe that its leaders have exploited 9/11 for political gain, it’s a scary prospect.”
“Yet if we can’t find people willing to take the risk—to face the truth and act on it—what will happen to our democracy?” Shouldn’t the American people and the world community demand that those guilty of this deception be held accountable?
The principal architect of the lying and deceit that is a hallmark of the Bush administration is fifty-three-year-old Karl Rove. He has practiced this evil trait all his professional life, even taught it as a professor at the University of Texas. He excels at it. His greatest accomplishment in using it was transformation of an ill-equipped, perennial failure and fellow Texan into governor of Texas, then president of the United States and leader of the free world. Rove’s skill is not in promoting his candidate, but in tearing down the opposition with a barrage of outrageous falsifications. His tactic, a serious affront to democracy, has made him feared and admired by Republicans and Democrats alike. His unprincipled but successful approach has led to his becoming the primary adviser to the president and the president’s men and women on a wide variety of issues. Some say that the president is so indebted to Rove that his ears are wide open to Rove’s whisperings. In any case, he is one of the big five at the head of our government who practice the Rove technique: the president, Rove himself, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and National Security Adviser Rice. Secretary of State Powell is also a powerhouse, but he is not one of them. I wonder why he stays there.
If you would like an in-depth, firsthand review of the Machiavellian methods that brought Rove to the pinnacle of power, read Bush’s Brain: How Karl Rove made George W. Bush Presidential. The authors, James Moore and Wayne Slater, two journalists who have served Texas and national politics for years, traveled extensively on George W. Bush’s gubernatorial and presidential campaigns and saw Karl Rove in action. One incident they relate describes well the Bush-Rove team at work. In the 2000 South Carolina primary battle between George Bush and John McCain, who had just walloped Bush in New Hampshire, Bush repeatedly proclaimed his determination to observe high campaign standards. But his people “leveled a savage direct-mail and phone campaign against” the war hero John McCain, and even questioned his loyalty. When McCain challenged him, Bush reached over to grasp his rival’s hand, and said the two should put their acrimony behind them. “Don’t give me that shit,” said McCain, “and take your hands off me.”
Negative campaigning has been with us ever since Colonial days, but it has never been practiced so skillfully, extensively, and brutally as by Karl Rove—nor has it ever before had so many tens of millions of dollars to use in spewing its evil through the news media. The time has come to blow the whistle—to hold accountable both Karl Rove and those who clearly hold office because of him.
After the president, in his 2003 State of the Union message, proclaimed to the world the now well-known forgery about Iraq ordering uranium from Niger, a well-established string of mea-culpas sounded from his team—first from CIA Director George Tenet, then from Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, and then from Hadley’s boss, Condoleezza Rice. Finally the anchor man for this relay to the top, the president himself, said in a nationally televised press conference, “I take personal responsibility for everything I say.” You bet he does. And we will hold him to it, even when it’s written by Karl Rove.
Fellow patriots, I ask you to recall the inspiring words of Thomas Jefferson, inscribed for all to see in his memorial in our nation’s capital: “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” Our current leaders should give serious consideration to these words.