Friday, November 07, 2003

You Say Tomato, I say...

Josh Marshall has released his winners for the "imminent threat contest" where he sought quotes from the Bush Administration and their Hawk supporters. Josh sums up the problem with the "imminent threat" debate with this paragraph:
Yet, as I said in The Hill on Wednesday, their argument is really just a “crafty verbal dodge — sort of like ‘I didn’t accuse you of eating the cake. All I said was that you sliced it up and put it in your mouth.’”

Yep, he didn't say those words, "imminent threat." Bush sold the war on that basis of the claim that there was an impending threat from Iraq that could strike us at any moment. Now, that is imminent in my book.

The battle of exact words is not really the meat of this criticism. Bush's problem is that he believed we faced danger from Iraq's WMD. Now when I say danger, I mean that the WMD could be used on the USA at some point in the not to distant future, from the next five minutes to the next few years. Now, in reality we did not face any more danger from Iraq's WMD than we did from our own WMD. The question left unanswered is did Bush know this. What information did he base his conclusion that we were in danger from Iraq's WMD? From what is being reported the only verified information that Iraq even possessed any WMD was that there was not a complete accounting of the WMD Iraq claimed to have after Gulf War I. So an incomplete accounting is the basis of the threat? This is where Bush mislead the public. He and members of his administration regularly said that Iraq possessed WMD. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld even stated we know were they were. I think it is clear that no one in the administration knew where the weapons where, because they had no good evidence that Iraq still had any.

This reality brings on one of two probable conclusions. 1. Bush or those advising him knew all along that the WMD posed no significant threat to the USA, but used the fear of WMD to sell the war. 2. Bush got really really bad intelligence.

Bush I think in the campaign to justify his war will claim #2 and blame the CIA. That I think is evidence of poor character. Bush is the boss, and should take the heat for the people he leads.

I don’t know if #1 is valid, but I think that at least to a degree that it occurred. I think that people in the administration knew that WMD was not a significant threat to the USA, but they knew they could use the fear to bring along enough people to bring out the war they wanted. Now, the debate of why they wanted the war is a different question that has varied and unknown motivations that I don’t have enough information from which to draw a valid conclusion.

I believe the validity of the criticism lies in what is clear a fact to me, Bush mislead the country on the level of the threat of WMD. Everyday that we don’t find actual usable weapons of mass destruction in Iraq shows that either they are now in the hands of those we fear would get them if we did not go to war, or that none exists. If none exist, I just don’t see how anyone can claim Bush is not a deceptive person, who did one of the worst things a President can do, provide misleading or false reasons for going to war.

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