Sun., Sept. 8, 2002
A major theme of the administration, since the collapse of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, has been to continually equate, through insinuation, Iraq with terrorism in general and last year's terror attacks on the U.S. in particular. No available evidence supports either of these implications--Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, a secular leader, is considered an enemy by Isalmist extremists and, for three decades, has made war on such elements inside Iraq. A Gallup poll released on Aug. 23, however, suggests that these insinuations are taking root. Without ever having seen any evidence of it, 86% of respondents said they believed Saddam Hussein is supporting terror groups planning attacks upon the U.S. Even more troubling, 53% of respondents, without even a single scrap of even any flimsy evidence, said they believed Hussein was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks.
Those in the administration have placed, at the center of their argument for a "preemptive" strike on Iraq, the idea that the Hussein regime may be very near to developing a nuclear capability. Their problem in making this case is that there's no available evidence to support it, and if they have such evidence, they aren't sharing it with anyone. Last Wednesday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was dispatched to a closed-door meeting with most of the U.S. Senate, his job to convince the Senators to dance to the beat of the "President's" war drum. The Senators, expecting to see some sort of intelligence information that couldn't be shared in public, recieved, instead, nothing more than a heaping helping of the same nonsense Rumsfeld regularly dishes out to the press. No new information. No evidence. Writing on Time magazine's website today, Karen Tumulty characterized the response to Rumsfeld's presentation:
So much for a smoking gun. Rumsfeld's presentation left even stalwarts of the President's party unhappy. "We want to be with you," Oklahoma Senator Don Nickles, the Senate's second-ranking Republican, finally told him. "But you're not giving us enough."
Bush was back at it Saturday, with another farcical presentation. Speaking with reporters prior to a summit meeting at Camp David, the "President" and British Prime Minister Tony Blair cited two pieces of evidence of Iraq's development of nuclear weapons. One was a newly-released sattelite photo of Iraq showing new contruction at sites identified as having been associated with Iraq's nuclear weapons program in the past. The other was a 1998 report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that predicted that Iraq may be only six months away from developing a nuclear capability. “I don’t know what more evidence we need,” said the "President."
A lot more than that, as it turns out.
The IAEA immediately disputed the assessment of the sattelite photo offered by Bush and Blair. Mark Gwozdecky, IAEA spokesman, said there was nothing in the photo that aroused their suspicion, and that no conclusions could be drawn from it. Even worse, Bush and Blair had flatly lied about the 1998 IAEA report--it had actually concluded that Iraq may have been 6 to 24 months away from developing a nuclear capability prior to the 1991 Desert Storm war. The war and subsequent inspections destroyed most of the Iraqi program's infrastructure, and removed the Baghdad regime's weapons-grade material. It concluded, in part, that, “based on all credible information available to date, ... the IAEA has found no indication of Iraq having achieved its programme goal of producing nuclear weapons or of Iraq having retained a physical capability for the production of weapon-useable nuclear material or having clandestinely obtained such material.” An unnamed "senior administration official" later acknowledged, to NBC's Norah O'Donnell that the report didn't contain what Bush had said it did.
This sort of behavior strongly suggests that no real evidence exists to justify raising the nuclear issue--the beating heart of the administration's case for making war in Iraq. There's a veritably screaming message in the fact that the President of the United States and the British Prime Minister, with the whole of the largest and priciest intelligence apparatus in the world at their command, have to resort to misrepresenting commercial sattelite photos and obscure IAEA reports to provide their "evidence" in this matter. The corporate press won't say so. That's one of the things that makes Left Hook! such a useful forum.
Recent days have offered a glimpse of the quagmire into which the "President" has dropped his country in Afghanistan. A massive car bomb went off in Kabul near the Ministry of Information Thursday, killing 26 and wounding 150. Later in the day, in Kandahar, there was an assassination attempt on U.S. puppet President Hamid Karzai. As Karzai left the governor's palace, a gunman dressed as a security guard opened fire on his car. Karzai was uninjured. Gul Agha Sherzai, governor of Kandahar, was grazed by a bullet, a very minor injury. It was left to Karzai's bodyguard contingent of American special forces to take out the gunmen, along with two other armed men who may or may not have had anything to do with the assassination attempt. This comes only two months after the successful assassination of U.S. puppet Vice-President Haji Abdul Qadir in Kabul by a pair of gunmen who escaped.
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