Lies of Omission Can Still Stink Up the Joint

In Washington, the chickens always come home to roost and that stink you smell is all the chicken manure that’s landing on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Which means trouble in the House of Bush, where any attempt to question George II is called treason and truth is a disposable commodity.

The weapons inspectors pulled out of Iraq, abandoning their fruitless search for Saddam Hussein’s elusive “weapons of mass destruction.” The pullout came about the same time the Carnegie Institute released a report saying the weapons never existed. Saddam’s nuclear weapons scientists, it seems, had neither the expertise nor the resources to develop the weapons so they did what any Iraqi scientist who wanted to live would do – they lied to the boss and told him they had the weapons.

So Saddam, without knowing it, told the truth when he said he didn’t have any such weapons. He only thought he did.

Even worse, the weapons of mass deception fooled both Saddam and the White House (or at least that’s what the White House wants the rest of us to believe).

Then Paul O’Neill, apparently still pissed over being sacked by Dubya, went public with one of Washington’s worst-kept secrets: That Bush planned to invade Iraq long before the hijacked airliners slammed into the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Some act like this is a big surprise.  It shouldn’t be. This web site, quoting sources in both the Pentagon and White House, reported in February 2001 that the White House planned to invade Iraq and topple Hussein. At the time, the shrill Greek Chorus that surrounds Bush like a gaggle of eunuchs swore this couldn’t possibly be true.

America, we were assured, doesn’t invade other countries. Just ain’t our style. Uh huh.

In March, 2001, I sat in a bar near the White House and sipped coffee while a Bush staffer downed too many scotches and predicted we would be at war with Iraq before the end of Dubya’s first term.

“Not true,” the partisans screamed when I printed that report. Shows what they know.

True, a lot of things changed on that September morning later in 2001. The smoke still poured out of the Pentagon and smothered New York when the White House ordered the CIA to find a link, any link, between Saddam Hussein and the terrorists who killed 3,000 Americans. Although that link was never documented, Bush would claim one existed as he exploited American shock and anger to build support for war with Iraq.

The Carnegie report found no evidence to support a link between Osama bin Laden and Hussein before the September 11, 2001 attacks. In fact, bin Laden’s disdain for Hussein was well known in the American and world intelligence communities. It took the U.S. attack on Iraq to force bin Laden into supporting Hussein against their common enemy.

We can argue long and hard over whether or not deposing Saddam Hussein was a good or bad thing. Vicious dictators who kill their own people have been with us since the dawn of time but – until this current war with Iraq – the U.S. has not been the aggressor, the country that strikes simply because a world leader “is a bad man.”

And while the case can easily be made that an Iraq without Hussein is a better place, two legitimate questions must be asked: Was it right for the U.S. to use false information and bogus justifications to do so? And is the U.S. a safer and better place now that we have done so?

Those questions should, and must, haunt George W. Bush for the remaining days of his presidency. Americans have a right to expect honesty and integrity from their elected leaders. Dishonesty, it seems, is the only permanent resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

But which is worse? A President who lies about sticking his schlong into a willing intern’s mouth or one who uses false pretenses to send American men and women to die in an unprecedented invasion of a foreign land?