Only War 'War President
Bush' Waged Is A War Of Lies

By Eric Margolis
Contributing Foreign Editor

A cascade of embarrassing revelations and accusations are demolishing George W. Bush's slickly packaged, made-for-TV persona as a "war president" and the scourge of Islamic terrorists.
Former president Jimmy Carter accused Bush and British PM Tony Blair of waging a war of "lies" against Iraq.
Poland's president said he was "deceived" by Bush into sending troops to Iraq. Spain's new prime minister denounced Bush's Iraq adventure as a "fiasco" and a "war based on lies."
A group of leading American business executives ran a full-page ad in The New York Times entitled "Have you noticed what's happened to chief executives who lie?" with a picture of an executive being led away in handcuffs. The ad described the Iraq invasion as a "state-sponsored deception (that) already dwarfs the damage done by the worst corporate scandals," citing 566 American dead and a cost of $125 billion US (not to mention 20,000 Iraqi deaths).
The underlying message was stark: the president and his "war cabinet" ought to face criminal charges for lying to the nation and starting an unnecessary war for domestic political reasons.
The fourth bombshell exploded when Richard Clarke, the respected former counter-terrorism chief under presidents Clinton and George Bush Sr., went public with the most damning accusations yet made against the White House. His testimony before a commission investigating the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. asserted the Bush administration damaged U.S. national security, did not do enough to prevent the 9/11 attacks, and obsessed over Iraq while largely ignoring al-Qaida's threat.
Bush, said Clarke, did "a terrible job" in fighting terrorism. Bush's obsession with Iraq left the U.S. "needlessly unprepared" to counter an al-Qaida attack. He also criticized, somewhat less strongly, the Clinton administration's anti-terrorism efforts.
Clarke, a Republican, insisted there were no links between Iraq and either 9/11 or terrorism, and that Iraq had no concealed weapons, a position long maintained by this column. But the feeble, politicized 9/11 commission failed to follow up on this dramatic testimony.
Vice President Dick Cheney was described by Clarke as a "right-wing ideologue." He accused Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, a principal architect of the Iraq War, of "belittling" the al-Qaida threat.
We learned Defence Secretary Rumsfeld was so preoccupied with anti-missile defence before 9/11 he ignored al-Qaida.
Urgent warnings
The commission's report stated Rumsfeld "did not recall any particular counter-terrorism issue that engaged his attention before 9/11," though the CIA claimed to have urgently warned both Bush and Rumsfeld of impending attacks.
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, who refused to testify, was shown to be a dithering, confused amateur and a character assassin who has led the White House attacks on Clarke.
Attorney General John Ashcroft, another self-styled scourge of terrorists, actually proposed cutting spending on counter-terrorism exactly one day before 9/11 - and again, afterward. Unfortunately, the commission failed to ask why the Bush administration had been sending millions in aid to the "terrorist" Taliban until four months before 9/11.
This column has repeatedly asserted the Bush administration was asleep on guard duty on 9/11.
True, there were no warnings hijacked airliners were coming on that specific day. But with the benefit of hindsight, we see the same ineptitude and confusion that preceded the attack on Pearl Harbor - a combination of distraction, smugness, self-deception, disbelief and bungling. On Dec. 7, 1941, Japan's naval codes were being intercepted and deciphered; her attacking aircraft were spotted by radar. Yet the obvious conclusions somehow were not made. The same applies to Sept. 11, 2001.
In the U.S. Navy, a ship's captain is responsible for all accidents or misfortunes, no matter what the excuse. But no senior member of the Bush administration has accepted responsibility for the death of some 3,000 people on 9/11. No one resigned.
No senior U.S. official acted with the honour and courage of Britain's foreign secretary, Robin Cook, who resigned to protest a war against Iraq he charged was based entirely on falsehoods and disinformation.
Instead, the Bush administration launched a trumped up war against Iraq to mask its own negligence prior to 9/11, and to satisfy America's lust for revenge by attacking a nation innocent of that crime.
Clarke, at least, had the decency to apologize to the families of the 9/11 victims, saying, "the government failed you. And I failed you." We have yet to hear a peep of self-criticism from the blundering but arrogant Bush White House.
Of course not. This administration is running for re-election on its "war record" against Iraq, and its so-called war on terrorism. Bush is playing Franklin Roosevelt or Harry Truman.
But his claim to be a war president is like the man who murders his family, then begs for mercy because he is an orphan. The Iraq war was not one of self-defence, like World War II, but an unprovoked, illegal aggression engineered by the Bush administration and justified by a torrent of shameful lies. Bush's "war on terrorism" is a police action that was unnecessarily and foolishly militarized.
Richard Clarke, no matter his motives, has done his nation an important, badly needed service.
Eric can be reached by e-mail at:
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