How Their Big Lie Came to Be
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How Their Big Lie Came to Be
By Robert 0aScheer
The Los Angeles Times
Tuesday 03 June 2003
Leave it to a Marine to be blunt. When Lt. Gen. James Conway, 0acommander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, was asked Friday why his 0aMarines failed to encounter or uncover any of the weapons of mass destruction 0athat U.S. intelligence had warned them about, his honesty put the White House to 0ashame.
"We were simply wrong," Conway said. "It was a surprise to me 0athen, it remains a surprise to me now, that we have not uncovered [nuclear, 0achemical or biological] weapons" in Iraq. And, he added, "believe me, it's not 0afor lack of trying. We've been to virtually every ammunition supply point 0abetween the Kuwait border and Baghdad, but they're simply not there."
Now that the "imminent threat" posed by Iraqi chemical or 0abiological weapons has turned out not to be so imminent, the question is: Did 0aour gazillion-dollar spy operations blow the call, or was the dope they 0adeveloped distorted or exaggerated by our political leaders?
Either way, heads should roll.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair is feeling real political heat 0afor arguing before the allied invasion that Saddam Hussein "has existing and 0aactive military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, which 0acould be activated within 45 minutes," a terrifying claim apparently now proved 0afalse.
Yet the White House seems to believe nobody cares that its war 0awas based on the same distortions pushed by our president.
Paul Wolfowitz, one of the general's top civilian bosses in the 0aPentagon and a key proponent of invading Iraq, certainly seems unconcerned with 0athe implications of making arguments for war based on convenience rather than 0afacts. In a Vanity Fair interview released last week, the neoconservative 0aWolfowitz said, "The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the 0aU.S. government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could 0aagree on, which was weapons of mass destruction, as the core reason."
He listed two others: to fight terrorism and Hussein's criminal 0atreatment of the Iraqi people. However, Wolfowitz dismissed the last reason, 0asaying "the third one, by itself is a reason to help the Iraqis but it is not a 0areason to put American kids' lives at risk, certainly not on the scale [that] we 0adid it."
Of course, the marketing of policy spin is an established, 0aalbeit unfortunate, part of politics. However, it is unacceptable to misinform 0ayour troops going into battle or mislead your citizens about why you are putting 0atheir sons and daughters in harm's way.
Bush and his band of hawks seem to believe the ends justify the 0ameans. Thus, the terror of 9/11 and the boogeyman of Iraq's supposed WMD stash 0abecame the key to pushing an ambitious plan to redraw the map of the Middle 0aEast. That was the pet project of a band of neocon missionaries who had failed 0ato convince either the first Bush administration or the Clinton administration 0athat such a campaign was plausible or desirable.
For Wolfowitz and friends, the 9/11 attacks were almost a gift, 0aan opportunity to play God. "If you had to pick the 10 most important foreign 0apolicy things for the United States over the last 100 years, [Sept. 11] would 0asurely rank in the top 10 if not No. 1," he told Vanity Fair.
Knocking Al Qaeda's Taliban friends out of Kabul became only a 0awarm-up for dethroning Hussein as part of the broader neocon agenda. In 0amarketing this war, however, there was a little problem: Hussein, as loathsome 0aas he was, didn't have anything to do with 9/11. Or, as Wolfowitz put it 0atactfully in his interview: "That second issue about links to terrorism is the 0aone about which there's the most disagreement within the bureaucracy."
But they didn't let that stop them. They kept hyping the Al Qaeda 0aconnection and turning up the volume on the WMD alarm. After all, we knew 0aHussein had some scary biological and chemical weapons in the '80s because he 0awas our ally in the war against Iran, and we supplied him with some of them.
And though United Nations inspectors found no evidence of weapons 0aof mass destruction, the Pentagon hawks found some Iraqi exiles in Washington 0awho were more than willing to provide handy lists of the precise locations of 0adeployed WMD. And thus was born the big lie: There's no time for U.N. inspectors 0ato continue their work; the threat from Iraq is less than an hour away, and any 0adelay puts the planet at risk.
It worked so well even our Marines were fooled.
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