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June 10, 2003 12:36 AM   Subscribe

Rep. Henry Waxman has written an (extensively footntoed and juicy) open letter to President Bush demanding answers about "misrepresenting evidence" against Iraq. Waxman is unique among an ever-growing numer of pitchfork-wielders as a Congressman who had supported the war. He wrote of the use of forged evidence about alleged nuclear transactions between Niger and Iraq:
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly (51 comments total)

 
These statements played a pivotal role in shaping congressional and public opinion about the need for military intervention in Iraq. I voted for the congressional resolution condemning Iraq and authorizing the use of force. Like other members, I was particularly influenced by your views about Iraq's nuclear intentions... Mr. President, I recognize that you have many demands on your time and that there are many issues that you cannot address. But this issue should be different. The credibility of the United States is now in question.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 12:37 AM on June 10, 2003


OK, a related question:

Does anybody actually believe this whole situation will be resolved satisfactorily (in the US and the UK)?
posted by cell at 12:45 AM on June 10, 2003


wow. apparently this guy is my representative!

go democracy!
posted by fnord_prefect at 1:05 AM on June 10, 2003


Oh bullshit. A Congressperson acting with just the slightest shred of decency and throwing reelection to the wind?

I don't believe it for a second. This is a setup for us finding planted weapons within the next week - you watch.
posted by Ryvar at 1:08 AM on June 10, 2003


You can find the letter (and the referenced March letter) in PDF format on Waxman's site (the first link), in case you, like me, feel creepy about reading at at Lyndon Larouche's website.
posted by planetkyoto at 3:11 AM on June 10, 2003


What's really important to remember is that this is all France's fault. In any event, Is Lying About The Reason For War An Impeachable Offense?. Even if the liar president remains absolutely convinced of ... his own words?
posted by magullo at 5:06 AM on June 10, 2003


Waxman has been a partisan windbag for as long as I can remember. This has nothing to do with a "search for the truth." Rather, is the way that the democrat pollsters have told politicians to attack Bush. Don't get me wrong, if the administration knowlingly misrepresented the WMD situation, then it should be held accountable, but don't portray Waxman as some kind of hero because he is trying to create political cover for people in his own party.
posted by Durwood at 5:40 AM on June 10, 2003


This is only a tiny example of the amazing lies the Bush administration peddled in order to get its war (and the control of homeland policy). And even that is impossible to get through people's heads. Americans simply don't want to know!
posted by acrobat at 5:55 AM on June 10, 2003


Here are some of the amazing lies we were told:
"The community of nations may see more and more of the very kind of threat Iraq poses now: a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction, ready to use them or provide them to terrorists. If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow." - the President

"There has never been an embargo against food and medicine. It's just that Hussein has just not chosen to spend his money on that. Instead, he has chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass destruction and palaces for his cronies." - the Secretary of State

"The United Nations has determined that Saddam should not possess chemical or biological or nuclear weapons, and what we have is the obligation to carry out the U.N. declaration." - the Secretary of Defense

"It is ineffectual; it is not able to do its job by its own judgment. It doesn't provide much deterrence against WMD activity." - the president's National Security Adviser, speaking about the U.N. inspections regime.

"Iraq is not the only nation in the world to possess weapons of mass destruction, but it is the only nation with a leader who has used them against his own people." - a prominent senator of the president's party.

"For the United States and Britain, an Iraq equipped with nuclear, chemical or biological weapons under the leadership of Saddam Hussein is a threat that almost goes without description. France, on the other hand, has long established economic and political relationships within the Arab world, and has had a different approach." - another prominent senator of the president's party.
In hindisght, it's hard to read these quotes and not come to the conclusion that the U.S. was deliberately lying.

(by the way, for citation purposes, these remarks were made by President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Defense Secretary William Cohen, National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, Sen. Tom Daschle and Sen. John Kerry)
posted by pardonyou? at 6:28 AM on June 10, 2003


My point in the last post was not to criticize the prior administration (which I supported), but to suggest that the U.S. truly believed that Iraq had WMDs. Unless you believe that Clinton, et al were also lying for some unknown reason.
posted by pardonyou? at 6:30 AM on June 10, 2003


Hans Blix, February 17, 2003 :

"How much, if any, is left of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and related proscribed items and programs? So far, UNMOVIC has not found any such weapons, only a small number of empty chemical munitions which should have been declared and destroyed.

Another matter, and one of great significance, is that many proscribed weapons and items are not accounted for.

To take an example, a document which Iraq provided suggested to us that some 1,000 tons of chemical agent were unaccounted for. I must not jump to the conclusion that they exist; however, that possibility is also not excluded. If they exist, they should be presented for destruction. If they do not exist, credible evidence to that effect should be presented.

We are fully aware that many governmental intelligence organizations are convinced and assert that proscribed weapons, items and programs continue to exist. The U.S. secretary of state presented material in support of this conclusion.

Governments have many sources of information that are not available to inspectors. The inspectors, for their part, must base their reports only on the evidence which they can themselves examine and present publicly. Without evidence, confidence cannot arise. "
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:37 AM on June 10, 2003


My point in the last post was not to criticize the prior administration (which I supported), but to suggest that the U.S. truly believed that Iraq had WMDs.

And they were right - nobody on earth believes Iraq didn't have WMDs... at some point. That's why Bush is now furiously backpedaling to confidently assert that 'Iraq had WMDs.' Great. But that's not what the argument was about. The argument, as of late winter of this year, was does Iraq have huge stockpiles of WMDs now, and if so, are they currently or immediately a threat to the U.S., and if so, does that justify an immediate unilateral invasion? Or does it call for more inspections to get better answers to those first two questions?

Again, I have no special knowledge of whether they did "currently" have them. And I still don't believe, even if every report had been accurate, that this would have justified pre-emptive unilateral warfare. But it's clear at least that the scale and immediacy of the threat was overstated.

So let's keep our eye on the ball, folks. 'Did Iraq at some point have WMDs' is a straw-man question.
posted by soyjoy at 7:30 AM on June 10, 2003


Yes yes. Others, including Clinton mentioned Iraq's WMDs. The difference? Clinton and the others didn't inflame this rhetoric into a 200 billion dollar war. Why not? Because it was a stupid idiot. Stupid as in: For 200 billion dollars we have a couple unused trucks and a lot of pissed off Arabs. For 200 billion dollars we get:

- No increased safety from terrorism
- No decrease in WMDs
- The burden of rebuilding a country that will always hate us
- Strained relations with former allies
- Total loss of credibility around the world
- Record budget deficits
- A police action that will continue indefinitely
- More fuel for the Al Qaeda hate machine

There is a huge difference in - "Saddam is a very bad man" and "Saddam is so bad that we must go to war to kill him." Sure, he was very bad. I'm glad he's dead. I just don't think it was worth the cost.

If we'd found huge stockpiles of WMDs and an operating nuclear program, I'd be more likely to concede that Bush was right. It turns out he was wrong. Iraq was a crumbling dictatorship that wasn't a threat to anyone.

Iraq is the new Viet Nam. Not in terms of US troops being killed, but in terms of it being a quagmire that we can never salvage a victory from. We've blunder back in to the "no win" zone. We kicked their ass, but no we're stuck with it - $200,000,000,000 worth of ass.
posted by y6y6y6 at 7:53 AM on June 10, 2003


Saddam's dead? I sure didn't see that newscast.
posted by norm at 7:57 AM on June 10, 2003


Iraq was a crumbling dictatorship that wasn't a threat to anyone.

Except Iraqis.
posted by pardonyou? at 8:01 AM on June 10, 2003


Please repeat after me: the Iraq War was never about WMD. That was always just a marketing campaign. It was - and is - about creating an American presence in the middle east to threaten and cajole the states there into not supporting and supplying terrorists.

Aw, you didn't say it!

*prepares for months more Captain Renault-esque flibbergibbitting about WMD and the today's lack thereof in Baghdad*
posted by UncleFes at 8:09 AM on June 10, 2003


"Except Iraqis"

Great. $200,000,000,000 to save Iraqis from their repressive government. Call me selfish, but I really think we (the US) got screwed on that deal.

"an American presence in the middle east to threaten and cajole the states there into not supporting and supplying terrorists"

Also a stupid idea. Which isn't working. And never (never ever) would have been supported by the people. So what you're saying is that we got conned into a war for our own good? Because we're too dumb or something?

I agree with you BTW - about the real reason - I just think it was a dumb idea that is bound to backfire.
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:27 AM on June 10, 2003


I disagree with your first part - I think it's at the very least a idea that has some pragmatic thought behind it and that is already working to some extent (evidenced by recent discussions with Syria, more work on the Israel Palestine thing) and that the American people WOULD have supported it. The administration believed that the American people had to be conned. I think they were wrong.

Because we're too dumb or something?

a bazillon WMD threads later - what do you think? :D
posted by UncleFes at 8:34 AM on June 10, 2003


To add a little to UncleFes' point (which I believe is absolutely correct), here is a recent NYT op-ed by Thomas Friedman (which I also suspect is right on the money):
The failure of the Bush team to produce any weapons of mass destruction (W.M.D.'s) in Iraq is becoming a big, big story. But is it the real story we should be concerned with? No. It was the wrong issue before the war, and it's the wrong issue now.

Why? Because there were actually four reasons for this war: the real reason, the right reason, the moral reason and the stated reason.

***

Once the war was over and I saw the mass graves and the true extent of Saddam's genocidal evil, my view was that Mr. Bush did not need to find any W.M.D.'s to justify the war for me. I still feel that way. But I have to admit that I've always been fighting my own war in Iraq. Mr. Bush took the country into his war. And if it turns out that he fabricated the evidence for his war (which I wouldn't conclude yet), that would badly damage America and be a very serious matter.

But my ultimate point is this: Finding Iraq's W.M.D.'s is necessary to preserve the credibility of the Bush team, the neocons, Tony Blair and the C.I.A. But rebuilding Iraq is necessary to win the war. I won't feel one whit more secure if we find Saddam's W.M.D.'s, because I never felt he would use them on us. But I will feel terribly insecure if we fail to put Iraq onto a progressive path. Because if that doesn't happen, the terrorism bubble will reinflate and bad things will follow. Mr. Bush's credibility rides on finding W.M.D.'s, but America's future, and the future of the Mideast, rides on our building a different Iraq. We must not forget that.
Amen, brother!
posted by pardonyou? at 8:44 AM on June 10, 2003


UncleFes: True, I never believed WMD were the reason for the war. I couldn't really understand it myself, beyond vague ideas about asserting regional influence, and a possibility of stopping OPEC from changing their currency to the Euro.

Nevertheless, the war was sold to the public as being about WMD. WMD were the justification. International law dictates that only an immediate and credible threat would allow an invasion. On that basis everybody in the US administration who lied about WMD, and used those lies to get public backing are war criminals. Nothing less. I want to see an immediate investigation as to who knew what, when. And if it emerges that Bush himself was complicit in this deception, then I don't want to see impeachment/resignations. I want to see prosecutions.
posted by salmacis at 8:45 AM on June 10, 2003


Please repeat after me: the Iraq War was never about WMD. That was always just a marketing campaign. It was - and is - about creating an American presence in the middle east to threaten and cajole the states there into not supporting and supplying terrorists.

So our virtuous leaders lied to us for our own good? Oh joy, oh glory! We'll see how well that one does in defusing what could be the biggest scandal in the history of the nation.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 9:04 AM on June 10, 2003


you may want to amend that last sentence to "...what could be the biggest scandal in the history of the nation that I can personally remember." Because there's a little place called Teapot Dome, Wyoming... now that was a scandal! This? This is just bad marketing and a few people thinking they are way smarter (ahem) than a whole bunch of other people.
posted by UncleFes at 9:14 AM on June 10, 2003


"But I will feel terribly insecure if we fail to put Iraq onto a progressive path."

Bingo. We can't pull this off. Game over.

Sure, let's try, we have an excellent chance here. But so far the effort (both in Iraq and Afghanistan) has been poorly and naively thought out, under-funded, and lacking in local buy-in. All I can go by is our efforts so far in Afghanistan, which is a total mess.

Setting up a puppet government and maintaining a police presence does not equal a progressive path.
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:15 AM on June 10, 2003


Otherwise, politicians who lie? Is that even possible? :)

Sure, let's try, we have an excellent chance here. But so far the effort (both in Iraq and Afghanistan) has been poorly and naively thought out, under-funded, and lacking in local buy-in. All I can go by is our efforts so far in Afghanistan, which is a total mess.


Gotta agree with you here, y6y6y6. They could do it, but so far they've been long on fighting and short on making up. There's still time to turn it around, I think, but they had better get busy and fast. Personally, I don't see it happening, and I will express my displeasure - if ONLY for the putting of some good friends of mine in harm's way then wasting their efforts - next November.
posted by UncleFes at 9:20 AM on June 10, 2003


U.S. military units assigned to track down Iraqi weapons of mass destruction have run out of places to look and are getting time off or being assigned to other duties, even as pressure mounts on President Bush to explain why no banned arms have been found.
- Associated Press
posted by muckster at 9:31 AM on June 10, 2003


Ignatius, you may have a problem with being lied to for your own good, but I don't think everyone does. The outcome in Iraq--despite y6y6y6's assertions, with which I mainly agree--isn't convincing Americans that Bush had anything other than the best interests of US and Iraq at heart. Whether he was manipulative and unwise in addition to being well-intentioned doesn't seem to matter to many Americans yet. What would it take to prove Bush untrustworthy to his 60-70% supporters? American casualties from a dirty bomb proven to be created with nuclear material looted from Iraq? I hope not.
posted by win_k at 9:34 AM on June 10, 2003


Please repeat after me: the Iraq War was never about WMD. That was always just a marketing campaign.

Please repeat after me: your idiot President lies ad libertum. And get this....it ain't over globally important issues like blowjobs in the Oval Office....it's over cajoling weak-minded tools into supporting a preemptive invasion of a sovereign nation, and the slaughter of thousands of people (including the poor American troops dumb enough and ethically challenged enough to have signed up for such brave military "service").

Those people willing to give Bush a pass on his lies because it was "just a marketing tool" (oh, joy: slimy businessmen will understand Bush perfectly) need remedial ethics. Right now.

Iraq was a crumbling dictatorship that wasn't a threat to anyone.

pardonyou: Except Iraqis.


The tens of thousands of Iraqis dead at the hands of America (now over decades) really, really cheer you on, pardonyou. Loudly. Bravo. It's quite a chorus. Can you hear them?
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 9:52 AM on June 10, 2003


Because there's a little place called Teapot Dome, Wyoming... now that was a scandal! This? This is just bad marketing and a few people thinking they are way smarter (ahem) than a whole bunch of other people.
Teapot Dome -- which I do have to admit I did not personally witness -- was ultimately about money. PEOPLE WERE SENT TO DIE AND KILL as a result of this scandal. "Scandal" isn't even good enough. Imagine if it was your son or daughter who was killed for the sake of political expediency and a bizarre ideology. That is worse than financial cronyism (and if you need that, there's plenty). This has fuck all to do with me thinking I am smart or being able to say I told you so.

Ignatius, you may have a problem with being lied to for your own good, but I don't think everyone does.

* cries *

I hope like hell you are wrong about that, but I guess I know better. Transparency in government is only needed when the President lacks moral clarity.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 9:58 AM on June 10, 2003


To date, you have offered no explanation as to why you and your most senior advisers made repeated allegations based on forged documents. Yet your entire pre-emption doctrine depends on the ability of the United States to gather accurate intelligence and make honest assessments.

Yeah, that about sums it up...
posted by zekinskia at 9:59 AM on June 10, 2003


It was - and is - about creating an American presence in the middle east to threaten and cajole the states there into not supporting and supplying terrorists.

Or, more likely in practice, creating an American presence in the middle east that the terrorists can target that isn't us here stateside.

I've expressed this before, but using WMD as a "marketing campaign" is a phenomenally bad idea. We had better hope nobody hostile really does try to deploy serious WMD against us anytime soon. If that happens and we need help we're screwed, or at least more screwed than we'd have to be, and really, not being screwed is the ideal situation when it comes to loose nuclear cannons.

Better to have gotten a few of our planes shot down or something if they just wanted something for marketing purposes. It'd still be ridiculous, but at least it wouldn't be completely reckless.
posted by furiousthought at 9:59 AM on June 10, 2003


Louder does not necessarily equal righter, gentlemen.

*departs*
posted by UncleFes at 10:10 AM on June 10, 2003


Dirty bombs or not, read what salmacis said and try and put this whole lying-to-go-to-war thing into a larger perspective.
posted by dabitch at 10:19 AM on June 10, 2003


Louder does not necessarily equal righter, gentlemen.

Tell that to the right.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 10:21 AM on June 10, 2003


IgnatiusJ, how do the bombing of Cambodia and the Vietnam War compare to this for memorable scandals?

Teapot Dome was a pretty good one, I'd concede. To go back in history a bit, there was also the XYZ Affair -- which would be a semi-good band name.
posted by alumshubby at 11:30 AM on June 10, 2003


IgnatiusJ, how do the bombing of Cambodia and the Vietnam War compare to this for memorable scandals?

It's all nasty, hubby. If your point is that introducing superlatives was pointless, then it's well taken. If your point is that it is OK to lie to obtain permission to kill large numbers of people for money and ideology just because there have been other big deadly lies, you'll need a little more ammo.

As for Cambodia, it is a great example of the murky dangers of an elective and broad war over ideas -- it can blow up and be expanded and fudged because it was always contrived at its very core. That fact should make a nation more reticent about becoming involved with such abstract mechanisms for killing off generations of young men, and make lying to manufacture such wars an ever graver offense.

But no, it just gets to be a piece of "see other bad things have happened, so it doesn't matter" data, which is ultimately my fault for using a superlative instead of just saying that this is some nasty scandalous shit that clearly scores a 9.7 on the universally accepted, objective, perfectly infallible and incontrovertible Bullshitometric Bullshit Index [tm] or BBI.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 11:46 AM on June 10, 2003


The former, of course. The latter is indefensible unless one's surname happens to be Machiavelli.

Although other bad things have indeed happened that are now just so much water under the dam, this one may well matter if there's enough of a groundswell in Congress, and between Waxman and Byrd, I suspect that if WMDs aren't located and waved bloody-shirt fashion pretty soon, it's going to crescendo. At the very least, I hope it reinforces the War Powers Act to curb the executive branch's ability to wage undeclared war.

When I remembered Watergate as I watched the Clinton impeachment circus, I was thinking "The first time as tragedy, the second time as farce"; now it seems as if the circle's coming round to tragedy again.
posted by alumshubby at 12:10 PM on June 10, 2003


Using little more than a Google search, IAEA experts discovered indications that should have been evident to novice intelligence officials.

There you have it - the Nigerian yellow cake fraud and the plagiarized thesis...two of the primary pieces of evidence put forth here and in Britain.

Anyone online who was the least bit sentient knew about these things months ago. Yet few of my off-line friends or colleagues heard of them until now. How come our lazy lapdog media didn't do its job?
posted by madamjujujive at 12:16 PM on June 10, 2003


Well, wait a minute...maybe the W witchhunt won't materialize if the White House succeeds in spinning the conquest of Iraq as a war for liberation. Difficult to argue with results, y'know.

But...that's assuming the results don't blow up in our faces. Plenty of Iraqis are justifiably glad Hussein's gone, but the longer we're there, the more this looks like Roman colonization. Or something.

On preview, madamjjj, that's exactly the problem I see with the media. They're not "liberal-controlled" or "big-business lapdogs"; they're just simply flat-out lazy at developing and advocating stories in the teeth of selling ad space and commerical minutes.
posted by alumshubby at 12:25 PM on June 10, 2003


At the very least, I hope it reinforces the War Powers Act to curb the executive branch's ability to wage undeclared war. When I remembered Watergate as I watched the Clinton impeachment circus, I was thinking "The first time as tragedy, the second time as farce"; now it seems as if the circle's coming round to tragedy again.

While I have to admit I was born long after Watergate, I am glad to see that we are back to finding some synthesis. :)

* licks giant lollipop *

In seriousness, none of this would have gone down if separation of powers had remained a valued principle. The stuff of this tragedy was not the war itself, but the sacrifice of this basic tenet of our system of government.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 12:32 PM on June 10, 2003


On preview, madamjjj, that's exactly the problem I see with the media. They're not "liberal-controlled" or "big-business lapdogs"; they're just simply flat-out lazy at developing and advocating stories in the teeth of selling ad space and commerical minutes.

Lazy, and frustrated as to their obivous slip toward obsolescence.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 12:33 PM on June 10, 2003


Synthesis, my left whatever. I still insist that Americans who don't know (or give a fig about) the difference between impeachment and ridicule are a serious problem worthy of the odd cussword or two.

As for Watergate: Gee, you missed a hell of a show, although the undeclared wars we've been in have had better special effects. I was in my teens then. It was sort of sad to watch my compatriots in college in the early 80s go "Watergate? Watergate who?" Cluelessness as performance art. Anyway, my nominee for Best Performance by a Pissed-Off Patriot goes to the late, great Rep. Barbara Jordan, D-Tex.
posted by alumshubby at 12:47 PM on June 10, 2003


My number one motive for visiting this board is to revel in the implosion of the American left wing.

You have not let me down, leftist friends.

Go Hillary!
posted by jtm at 4:39 PM on June 10, 2003


I have no fucking idea what you're talking about, jtm.
posted by salmacis at 5:09 PM on June 10, 2003


neocons caught lying = HAHA LIBERALS LUZE AGAIN?
posted by mcsweetie at 6:01 PM on June 10, 2003


jtm is pretty much just repeating himself in multiple threads....
posted by Iax at 8:11 PM on June 10, 2003


neocons caught lying = HAHA LIBERALS LUZE AGAIN?

Somehow, some way, that is probably actually going to be true.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 9:03 PM on June 10, 2003


Or just maybe...


posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 9:13 PM on June 10, 2003


I'm not going to respond to the troll, but I'm going to respond to its purpose in all of it's schadenfreude steeped maniacal clutch onto black/white teams, opposing armies. Whatever. This is for you if you happen to be one who engages in this shit:

Political parties, republicans and democrats, are NOT opposing extremes. Ideally, their difference should merely be a convenient dividing line along the political "center" (wherever society deems that center to be -- undeniably there are the overlaps). Regardless, the idea of politics is to meet in the middle, forge understandings and write legislation via it's broad membership. In any other plane of existence this would appear to be a good thing, even to the extemists perhaps, as it extends and matures the Democracy in question.

On the other hand we have people like you. Apparently there is no middle ground. There are "we" and there are "they", that's boringly it. Nothing to learn, nothing to create, nothing to love about anything anymore. Just teams and coaches and endzones. Oh and trashtalk! Gotta have that.

See, I'm sick of that. What do you have to say for yourself jtm? Do you know the outcome of the future? What do you have to say jtm?
posted by crasspastor at 10:45 PM on June 10, 2003


Dear Iax:

You said that I am leaving the same post on multiple threads.

Hmm, I posted on one other thread last night, and that post noted that the left wing was rallying behind Grand Wizard of the KKK Robert Byrd, and I noted that the left wing was obviously self-destructing.

Why would you lie and claim I made MULTIPLE duplicate posts last night?

Are ALL of you leftists so dishonest?


Remember, leftists: when stuck in a hole, keep digging.
posted by jtm at 7:30 AM on June 11, 2003


stop calling me a leftist. you know nothing.
posted by Mars Saxman at 8:03 AM on June 11, 2003


Iax: jtm is pretty much just repeating himself in multiple threads....

jtm: Why would you lie and claim I made MULTIPLE duplicate posts last night?


Little hint, jtm: When accusing someone of lying, use their exact words rather than your interpretation of said words.

Iax didn't say anything about "last night" or "duplicate posts." You did repeat yourself. And while you can argue over the interpretation of "multiple," its primary meaning is "more than one," not "more than two," so the word was accurate.

In other words: Iax didn't lie about you, you lied about Iax. Keep digging, pal.
posted by soyjoy at 8:16 AM on June 11, 2003


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