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Thread: The Dangerous Lie that Bush Lied

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    The Dangerous Lie that Bush Lied

    The Dangerous Lie That ‘Bush Lied’
    Some journalists still peddle this canard as if it were fact. This is defamatory and could end up hurting the country.

    By
    Laurence H. Silberman
    Feb. 8, 2015 6:25 p.m. ET
    1576 COMMENTS

    In recent weeks, I have heard former Associated Press reporter Ron Fournier on Fox News twice asserting, quite offhandedly, that President George W. Bush “lied us into war in Iraq.”

    I found this shocking. I took a leave of absence from the bench in 2004-05 to serve as co-chairman of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction—a bipartisan body, sometimes referred to as the Robb-Silberman Commission. It was directed in 2004 to evaluate the intelligence community’s determination that Saddam Hussein possessed WMD—I am, therefore, keenly aware of both the intelligence provided to President Bush and his reliance on that intelligence as his primary casus belli. It is astonishing to see the “Bush lied” allegation evolve from antiwar slogan to journalistic fact.

    The intelligence community’s 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) stated, in a formal presentation to President Bush and to Congress, its view that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction—a belief in which the NIE said it held a 90% level of confidence. That is about as certain as the intelligence community gets on any subject.

    Recall that the head of the intelligence community, Central Intelligence Agency Director George Tenet, famously told the president that the proposition that Iraq possessed WMD was “a slam dunk.” Our WMD commission carefully examined the interrelationships between the Bush administration and the intelligence community and found no indication that anyone in the administration sought to pressure the intelligence community into its findings. As our commission reported, presidential daily briefs from the CIA dating back to the Clinton administration were, if anything, more alarmist about Iraq’s WMD than the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate.

    Saddam had manifested sharp hostility toward America, including firing at U.S. planes patrolling the no-fly zone set up by the armistice agreement ending the first Iraq war. Saddam had also attempted to assassinate former President George H.W. Bush —a car-bombing plot was foiled—during Mr. Bush’s visit to Kuwait in 1993. But President George W. Bush based his decision to go to war on information about Saddam’s WMD. Accordingly, when Secretary of State Colin Powell formally presented the U.S. case to the United Nations, Mr. Powell relied entirely on that aspect of the threat from Iraq.

    Our WMD commission ultimately determined that the intelligence community was “dead wrong” about Saddam’s weapons. But as I recall, no one in Washington political circles offered significant disagreement with the intelligence community before the invasion. The National Intelligence Estimate was persuasive—to the president, to Congress and to the media.

    Granted, there were those who disagreed with waging war against Saddam even if he did possess WMD. Some in Congress joined Brent Scowcroft, a retired Air Force lieutenant general and former national security adviser, in publicly doubting the wisdom of invading Iraq. It is worth noting, however, that when Saddam was captured and interrogated, he told his interrogators that he had intended to seek revenge on Kuwait for its cooperation with the U.S. by invading again at a propitious time. This leads me to speculate that if the Bush administration had not gone to war in 2003 and Saddam had remained in power, the U.S. might have felt compelled to do so once Iraq again invaded Kuwait.

    In any event, it is one thing to assert, then or now, that the Iraq war was ill-advised. It is quite another to make the horrendous charge that President Bush lied to or deceived the American people about the threat from Saddam.

    I recently wrote to Ron Fournier protesting his accusation. His response, in an email, was to reiterate that “an objective reading of the events leads to only one conclusion: the administration . . . misinterpreted, distorted and in some cases lied about intelligence.” Although Mr. Fournier referred to “evidence” supporting his view, he did not cite any—and I do not believe there is any.

    He did say correctly that “intelligence is never dispositive; it requires analysis and judgment, with the final call and responsibility resting with the president.” It is thus certainly possible to criticize President Bush for having believed what the CIA told him, although it seems to me that any president would have credited such confident assertions by the intelligence community. But to accuse the president of lying us into war must be seen as not only false, but as dangerously defamatory.

    The charge is dangerous because it can take on the air of historical fact—with potentially dire consequences. I am reminded of a similarly baseless accusation that helped the Nazis come to power in Germany: that the German army had not really lost World War I, that the soldiers instead had been “stabbed in the back” by politicians.

    Sometime in the future, perhaps long after most of us are gone, an American president may need to rely publicly on intelligence reports to support military action. It would be tragic if, at such a critical moment, the president’s credibility were undermined by memories of a false charge peddled by the likes of Ron Fournier.

    Mr. Silberman, a senior federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, was co-chairman of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction.
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    This is absolutely the case.

    At the time of the run up to war there was only one notable entitly claiming Saddam did not have WMDs - Scott Ritter. At the time, there were records of funds being transferred to Ritter which connected back to Iraq. he was also under investigation for, if I recall correctly, statutory rape. even the countries who opposed the war like France and Germany did not seriously dispute that Saddam had WMDs, they merely opposed the war. Of course, we learned that a number of countries, including France, were profiting greatly from Saddam's efforts to circumvent the restrictions on the Oil for Food program.

    Most notably, despite the claims in his op ed, Joseph Wilson had confirmed that Saddam had attempted to purchase yellow cake from Niger.
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    QuoteOriginally Posted by CheapSeats View Post
    Most notably, despite the claims in his op ed, Joseph Wilson had confirmed that Saddam had attempted to purchase yellow cake from Niger.
    The most amazing thing about that Wilson trip is that he found out about anything. He hung out sipping mixed drinks for the duration. The irony of him getting confirmation, thus actually justifying that bit of nepotism and graft by Plame to her husband, and then pretending he didn't in an NY Times op-ed...truth is stranger than fiction. D.GOOCH
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    Furthermore, the entire world believed Saddam had weapons of mass destruction because Saddam wanted the world to believe he had weapons of mass destruction, and every action he took and behavior he demonstrated was bent to convey that threat and fortify that belief.
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    And yet the same people that would say Bush lied are the same folks that are tripping over themselves to support Hillary.
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    QuoteOriginally Posted by OzzieFan View Post
    And yet the same people that would say Bush lied are the same folks that are tripping over themselves to support Hillary.
    And supported Kerry and would support Biden.
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    Hold back just a second. There was no larger anti-war proponent than me on this board. Still, I never claimed Bush lied. I do believe he misread the intelligence, as did many other folks on both sides of the isle.

    That does not take away from the fact that he wanted to push this country into nation-building in the ME, which, I firmly believe is wrong-headed policy. Far and near history bears this out. Barak, has not made it any better and in many ways made the situation even more untenable.

    We had no business attacking Iraq in a pre-emptive manner. It is unjustifiable, imo, on both political and ethical grounds.

    I also do not support HRC. If Jim Webb were to run, however, I might be tempted to vote D in the 2016 election. Until then, I hope the repubs nominate someone outside the "we are the world's policeman" camp.
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    QuoteOriginally Posted by 6-4-3 View Post
    ...as did many other folks on both sides of the isle.
    Well, this is something we can all agree on. All politicians are just highly paid beachgoing vacationers.
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    QuoteOriginally Posted by 6-4-3 View Post
    Hold back just a second. There was no larger anti-war proponent than me on this board. Still, I never claimed Bush lied. I do believe he misread the intelligence, as did many other folks on both sides of the isle.

    That does not take away from the fact that he wanted to push this country into nation-building in the ME, which, I firmly believe is wrong-headed policy. Far and near history bears this out. Barak, has not made it any better and in many ways made the situation even more untenable.

    We had no business attacking Iraq in a pre-emptive manner. It is unjustifiable, imo, on both political and ethical grounds.

    I also do not support HRC. If Jim Webb were to run, however, I might be tempted to vote D in the 2016 election. Until then, I hope the repubs nominate someone outside the "we are the world's policeman" camp.
    There is little evidence the intelligence was "misread"...there is substantial evidence the intelligence was wrong / inaccurate / out-of-date / incomplete. Though by how much is lost to the fog of war - it's very possible Iraq's WMDs may have been moved / lost in the course of the war, though I'd rate the probability that we had an overinflated estimate of Iraq's WMD capabilities as 'likely'. But since you aren't one of the fellows from the Left who indulged in this false meme, there's no need to "hold on"...this isn't about you. It's about the substantial majority of other Lefties, including most every other Lefty on this board, who absolutely joined in with the "Bush lied, people died" mantra. And, indeed, maintain it to this very day, despite all the evidence to the contrary. So kudos to you for your restraint and sticking to the facts. Unfortunately, you're the exception, not the rule. D.GOOCH
    Last edited by GOOCH; 02-10-2015 at 03:19 PM.
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    http://www.salon.com/2015/02/10/yes_...ng_about_this/

    Nazis. Always with the god damn Nazis. This self-Godwinning is doubly stupid because we already know what the political fallout of Bush lying about Iraq was: the Democrats briefly took control of Congress, a black guy was elected president, and they teamed up to pass a successful healthcare reform law. You may consider that a travesty depending on your political and social views, but Kristallnacht it ain’t.
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    Interestingly, the Salon piece entirely skips over the entirely discredited Joe Wilson claim about Iraq not seeking uranium in Niger. The author's entire argument for lie comes down to centrifuges, about which there were differing views. The lie is apparantly that GWB didn't reject the entire case for WMDs based on differing opinions within the intelligence community. That is a pretty slim reed.

    If someone wants to make a persuasive case that GWB lied, a necessary starting point would be to demonstrate that some intelligence agency somewhere in the world was making the argument, prior to the invasion, that Iraq did not have WMDs. If that case was being made, it should be quite easy to find contemporaneous reporting of these views.

    Of course, you can't do that because it never happened. So Salon believes that disagreement between US intelligence agencies about whether the tubes were suitable for enrichment was sufficient to reject all other evidence in favor of WMDs and the universal consensus among the world intelligence agencies, including this countries who opposed the invasion.

    I eagerly await Salon imposing such a standard on BHO, HRC and all other Dems.
    Last edited by CheapSeats; 02-10-2015 at 06:46 PM.
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    QuoteOriginally Posted by CheapSeats View Post

    I eagerly await Salon imposing such a standard on BHO, HRC and all other Dems.
    I started reading it. Then I clicked on the link for the source material for the timeline. It linked to Mother Jones with no further sources. Yaaaaawn.
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    The Dangerous Lie that Bush Lied

    I personally saw trucks and trucks and trucks go in and out of suspected sights in Iraq and drive into Syria... I can't say for sure what was in those trucks but it sure was odd. Can't say I was shocked when Syria was accused of using chemical weapons on its own people.
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    [QUOTE=paulie walnuts;1090971]

    http://www.salon.com

    And....we're done here. Typical Paulie. Couldn't cite a credible source if he fell into a pool of Pulitzers. D.GOOCH
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    QuoteOriginally Posted by Redbirdfan1 View Post
    I personally saw trucks and trucks and trucks go in and out of suspected sights in Iraq and drive into Syria... I can't say for sure what was in those trucks but it sure was odd. Can't say I was shocked when Syria was accused of using chemical weapons on its own people.
    How do you know, were you there? Well, come to find out, you WERE!

    I'm going to trust your account over mine or any of these above, since you were there and saw it with your own eyes. That gives you certain rights to credibility and opinion that the rest (of us) can't lay claim to. Of course, someone will ask if you have a link to that memory. How did we verify anything before the Daily Kos and Salon existed, or the internet for that matter?

    And we don't say it often enough, but thank you for your service.
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    QuoteOriginally Posted by Redbirdfan1 View Post
    I personally saw trucks and trucks and trucks go in and out of suspected sights in Iraq and drive into Syria... I can't say for sure what was in those trucks but it sure was odd. Can't say I was shocked when Syria was accused of using chemical weapons on its own people.
    Thank you for posting this. I had heard rumors of this for years. My biggest worry has always been what was there that wasn't found and destroyed by our troops. We know for a fact much was found and destroyed.
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    QuoteOriginally Posted by ilcardsfan View Post

    And we don't say it often enough, but thank you for your service.

    This. D.GOOCH
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