William Rivers Pitt | I Believe
by: William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | 0aPerspective
Monday 08 September 2003
On most nights, you can find me belly to the bar at Charlie's in Harvard 0aSquare, feasting on the meatloaf special and a glass of Harpoon I.P.A. I like to 0atake my dinner there because they have four televisions in a row above the 0amirror, and because the other regulars are as interesting a mob as you will find 0ain the city. Two of the televisions will usually be showing the Red Sox game, 0aand the other two will be tuned into CNN or MSNBC.
Jen, the bartending warrior-goddess who runs the ship at Charlie's, is as 0anews savvy as anyone can be from watching television. One of these days, on a 0aslow night, I am going to sit down with her and fill in the gaps that linger 0astill in her understanding of present matters within and without the United 0aStates of America. Those gaps are not her fault. She goes to the television for 0aher information, and the television is a liar. In this, she is like many 0aAmericans. I can't sit down with all of my fellow citizens, but I can bend Jen's 0aear the next time things are dull. I can tell her what I believe.
I believe, first of all, that none of George W. Bush's words on Sunday night 0acan explain away what I believe.
I believe we were lied to about the threat posed by Iraq. The American people 0awere bombarded on a daily basis for months with dire reports about Iraqi weapons 0aof mass destruction being handed off to al Qaeda terrorists for deadly delivery 0ato our shores. The threat, we were told, was so pressing that war was the only 0aoption. The threat was so pressing that George W. Bush piled hundreds of 0athousands of troops on the borders of Iraq before any proof of the necessity of 0awar was presented. That proof, over six months later, still does not exist. The 0awar was based upon a barrage of lies, a domestic version of 'Shock and Awe' that 0awas monstrous and criminal and wrong.
I believe that the leaders in America and Britain who propagated these lies 0ahave run out of room to maneuver. The British newspaper, the Independent, ran a 0astory on September 7 entitled, "Britain and US Will Back Down Over WMDs." The 0afirst paragraph begins like so: "Britain and the US have combined to come up 0awith entirely new explanations of why they went to war in Iraq as inspectors on 0athe ground prepare to report that there are no weapons of mass destruction 0athere." The third paragraph begins like so: "The 1,400-strong Iraq Survey Group, 0asent out in May to begin an intensive hunt for the elusive weapons, is expected 0ato report this week that it has found no WMD hardware, nor even any sign of 0aactive programmes."
I believe this is a far cry from the terrifying threats we were bombarded 0awith by this administration. Let us not forget that Bush and his people claimed 0aad nauseam that Iraq was in possession of 26,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 0aliters of botulinum toxin, 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agents (500 0atons equals one million pounds), 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical 0aagents, possession of mobile weapons labs, connections to al Qaeda, and had 0atheir grubby little fingers digging for uranium in Niger to build a bomb. All of 0athese claims remain on a White House website page called "Disarm Saddam 0aHussein." The mobile weapons labs were, in fact, weather balloon platforms sold 0ato Iraq by the British in the 1980s. The Niger lies, by now, are evident, and 0ayet the data remains on the White House page. None of the rest of this has been 0afound. According to the Independent story, the administration would have you 0abelieve they were never the reason at all.
I believe the newest apologia for this war is a bunch of stinking garbage. "I 0acan't believe you want Saddam Hussein back," goes the line. "The Iraqi people 0aare free now, and a really bad guy is gone." I believe that if what the Iraqi 0apeople are experiencing - terrorism, deprivation, civil war, massive death - is 0aour definition of freedom, then I want no part of it. I believe that if our new 0aforeign policy is going to be a "Get The Bad Guys Everywhere" program that goes 0ato war against "Bad Guys" whether or not there is a threat against America, we 0aas a nation will very quickly fall apart. I believe that I would be amenable to 0ahave Saddam back if I can also have back the hundreds of American soldiers who 0ahave been killed, the thousands of American soldiers who have been wounded, and 0athe tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians who have been slaughtered and maimed. I 0abelieve, as bad as Hussein demonstrably was, that he was not worth the price we 0ahave paid, and will continue to pay.
I believe the lies were exposed by an Air Force Lt. Colonel named Karen 0aKwiatkowski, who worked in the Pentagon until her retirement last April. 0aKwiatkowski is one of many whistleblowing intelligence insiders who have come 0aforward in the last months to expose the shoddy manner in which the Bush 0aadministration took us to war in Iraq. Kwiatkowski worked with the Office of Special 0aPlans, the special unit formed by Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld 0aspecifically to second-guess and manufacture 'proof' that Iraq was a threat. "What I saw was aberrant, pervasive and contrary to good order and discipline," 0aKwiatkowski wrote recently. "If one is seeking the answers to why peculiar bits 0aof 'intelligence' found sanctity in a presidential speech, or why the 0apost-Saddam occupation has been distinguished by confusion and false steps, one 0aneed look no further than the process inside the Office of the Secretary of 0aDefense." She described the activities of Rumsfeld's Office of Special Plans as, "A subversion of constitutional limits on executive power and a co-optation 0athrough deceit of a large segment of the Congress."
I believe the lies of this administration regarding this war, and the war 0aitself, have made our country far less safe from further terrorist attacks. We 0awere told time and again that Iraq was a nest of al Qaeda terrorist activity. We 0awent to war, ostensibly, to put an end to this threat. No evidence of al Qaeda 0aactivity, or al Qaeda connections to Hussein's regime, or weapons of mass 0adestruction of any kind whatsoever, have been found. The chaos unleashed by this 0awar, however, has been nothing more or less than a gilded invitation to Arabic 0aterrorists like al Qaeda to flood into Iraq and make trouble. The Bush 0aadministration created, with its lies, the very situation they supposedly went 0ato war to get rid of. This puts Americans over there, and right here, in mortal 0aperil.
I believe the incalculable horror of September 11th was used against the 0aAmerican people to justify a war that did not need to be fought. The newest poll 0astates that some 70% of the American people believe Saddam Hussein was among 0athose responsible for the attacks; in short, 70% of the American people believe 0ain something that is a flat lie. Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden are blood 0aenemies, and have been for years. Their hatred runs so deep that one would not 0aurinate on the other if the other was on fire, because that urine would help. 0aNever mind sharing weapons. Why do the American people believe in this 0aconnection? They believe in this because George W. Bush and virtually every 0amember of his administration made this rhetorical connection over and over and 0aover again as they argued for war in Iraq. It was the most emotive argument, 0aover and above the other lies about Iraq's nuclear program and Niger uranium, 0aand it motivated the American people to get in line behind war. Bush used our 0aunchartable woe and fear against us, and his party is planning to hold their 0a2004 national convention next to the hole in the ground where the Towers stood. 0aThe dead are being used, and the living are being rhetorically raped, by an 0aadministration that has all the moral fiber of a hammerhead shark.
I believe the war in Iraq, and the War on Terror as a whole, is being used by 0athis pack of ideological extremists in the White House to destroy any ability 0athe federal government has to provide needed services to the American people. 0aBush has recently gone to Congress to ask for $70 billion more for his war, over 0aand above the billions of dollars that have already been pumped into this farce. 0aBetween the war costs, the billions being taken out of the domestic budget and 0afed into the Defense Department, and the tax cuts, there will be nothing left 0afor Social Security or Medicare or a hundred other vitally necessary social 0aservices. This is by design; the boys running the show have fantasized for years 0aabout reversing the outcome of the 1932 Presidential election. That election 0agave rise to FDR, to the New Deal, and to the preponderance of the simple truth 0athat the government can and must help our weakest citizens. Right under our 0anoses, they are changing that history. The fact that they are also purposefully 0aterrifying the American people simultaneously means they will likely get away 0awith this, because frightened people tend not to think clearly, and tend to 0atrust those who are demonstrably untrustworthy.
I believe this war is costing so much because the Bush administration gave 0athe United Nations and the international community the back of its hand in the 0arun-up to the war, because the United Nations and the international community 0ahad the gall to believe that weapons inspections and clear reasons for war 0aneeded to be part of the matrix. We were perfectly able to go it alone, said 0aBush, and so we did. Now that the occupation has proven to be bloodier than the 0awar, now that we are losing soldiers practically every day, now that a civil war 0ais breaking out between Shia and Sunni because there is no longer anything 0akeeping them from going for each other's throats, now that the oil lines are 0agetting bombed and sabotaged, now that we are hemorrhaging cash from every 0aorifice, this administration is being forced to crab-walk back to the UN and ask 0afor help. The fact that they have the gall to claim that they always intended to 0ado this is merely par for the course at this point.
I believe that I was wrong. I thought that, if I lived to be 150 years old, I 0awould not see this administration backtrack on its unilateralist course and ask 0afor help in Iraq from the United Nations. Recall that it was Richard Perle, 0aformer chairman of the Defense Policy Board and chief architect of this war, who 0apublicly rejoiced at the beating absorbed by the UN. In an editorial published 0aon March 21, 2003 entitled, "Thank God For The Death Of The UN," Perle wrote the 0afollowing: "Saddam Hussein's reign of terror is about to end. He will go 0aquickly, but not alone: in a parting irony, he will take the UN down with him." 0aPerle and his fellow "Bring 'em on" hawks must now eat these words, and I was 0awrong. I never thought I would live to see the day.
I believe the Bush administration has betrayed the honor and courage and 0aservice of our soldiers. When you put on the uniform of the United States 0amilitary, and when you swear the oath, you are also being made a promise. You 0aare being promised that your blood and heart and soul and courage will not be 0aspent to no good cause. You are being promised that your life will not be thrown 0aaway, cashiered by a battery of lies. I believe the American soldiers serving in 0aIraq do so for the best of reasons, and because they do as they are told. 0aRumsfeld recently visited Iraq to buck up the troops, requiring them to sweep 0athe streets and pretty up the base. The boost in morale was not forthcoming. "The only thing his visit meant for us was we had to clean up a lot of mess to 0amake the place look pretty. And he didn't even look at it anyway," said 0aSpecialist Rue Gretton. "I don't give a damn about Rumsfeld. All I give a damn 0aabout is going home." The troops know the score. Pity that so many Americans do 0anot.
I believe that, as fantastically masturbatory as the upcoming Showtime 'docu-drama' about Bush on 9/11 may be, it cannot come close to explaining the 0aglaring deficiencies within the accepted mantra surrounding what happened on 0athat day. One, only one, example: The professional golfer Payne Stewart died 0aaboard his chartered jet when the cabin suffered explosive decompression. The 0aplane continued to fly on auto-pilot. It took the ground controllers 21 minutes 0ato summon an F-16 fighter to come in behind the doomed jet to investigate. On 0aSeptember 11, there was a squadron of F-16s and a squadron of FA-18s laagered up 0aat Andrew's Air Force Base, which sits just 12 miles from the White House. The 0ahijacked commercial planes were in the air, and were crashing into buildings, 0afor almost two hours before one single fighter turned a wheel and took to the 0asky. Payne Stewart rated a fighter in 21 minutes. Hundreds of kidnapped 0acivilians did not rate a fighter for almost 120 minutes, until the horror was 0aalready over. The mantra for this says, "Incompetence," yet no one has been 0afired or even reprimanded. I want to know why.
If you are someone who finds questions like this to be dangerously incendiary 0aand conspiratorial, I would direct you to look long and hard at this document. This is a set of instructions issued from the 0aJoint Chiefs of Staff on the 1st of June 2001, describing in minute detail the 0aprotocols and procedures to be undertaken if a plane is hijacked. Not one of 0athese protocols, issued three months and ten days before the terror attacks, 0awere followed. Why?
I believe we as a nation are in the gravest of trouble. I believe our 0atroubles have only just begun, and unless something is done, our troubles will 0acome to undo this democratic experiment before too much longer. I also believe, 0ahowever, in the words of Thomas Paine: "If there must be trouble, let it be in 0amy day, that my child may have peace."
I believe that Jen, behind the bar at Charlie's, is as fine an example of an 0aAmerican as one can find. She works hard, and follows the news as she can. I 0abelieve that when she hears these hard truths and bitter facts, she will act 0aupon them with the basic courage and searing outrage that is the hallmark of any 0aAmerican who has been lied to and used. I believe that Jen has the power in her 0ahands to reverse this course, and I believe she will do it when armed with the 0atruth. I believe the Bush administration will come to know true fear if people 0alike Jen are unleashed.
I believe it is time for my dinner. I will speak with Jen. Who will you speak 0awith today?
William 0aRivers Pitt is the Managing Editor of truthout.org. He is a New York Times 0aand international best-selling author of three books - "War On Iraq," available from Context Books, "The Greatest Sedition is Silence," available from Pluto Press, 0aand "Our Flag, Too: The Paradox of Patriotism," available in August 0afrom Context Books.
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