Making A Difference

Intelligence Failure

Not quite in the sense Bushies would have you believe, though. The Democrats could contest the Bush propaganda but they seem to be suffering from an intelligence failure of their own.

Intelligence Failure
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The Bush political machine pulled off another propaganda coup with the announcement that the president willappoint a commission to look into the so-called "intelligence failures" before the Iraq War.

Those two words do a lot of political heavy lifting for the president; by framing the issue as a questionof intelligence failures, not political propaganda, the Bush people hope to divert attention from the factthat they lied to promote the war.

When Secretary of State Colin Powell made his presentation to the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003, heclaimed that "most United States experts" believed that Iraqi purchases of aluminum tubes were forcentrifuges that would do uranium isotope separation, not for artillery, as Iraq had claimed. Actually, mostexperts said the opposite; in particular, the anodized coating of the tubes, which Powell cited as evidencefor their nuclear use, would actually have to be removed if they were to be put in centrifuges but was normalfor use in artillery. Powell mentioned that Iraq had produced four tons of VX gas but neglected to mentionthat most of it had been destroyed under U.N. supervision, and that the rest would have degraded in the yearssince 1991.

On March 16, 2003, Vice President Dick Cheney said, "We believe he [Saddam] has, in fact,reconstituted nuclear weapons," a claim he has made on numerous other occasions. In fact, neither theInternational Atomic Energy Agency nor anyone else had ever said anything of the kind; since nuclear weaponsactivities give off radiation, they are very easily detected, and inspectors had been doing on-site visits forfour months at the time.

Bush usually left the lying to others, but in the 2003 State of the Union address he said that Iraq hadpurchased uranium from "Africa," a claim based on forgeries so crude that IAEA analysts said acouple of hours on Google would have sufficed to expose them. In an earlier speech, on October 7, 2002, Bushsaid Iraq was planning to use its unmanned aerial vehicles to target the United States; their top range wasabout 400 miles.

The Bush "intelligence failures" script goes like this: We have been working hard to protectordinary Americans from harm. Because of the information provided by the intelligence community, we went towar in Iraq to eliminate a threat to our safety. Only now -- after the war -- do we realize the threat may nothave been so great. But we can't be blamed for working diligently to protect America.

The truth is that, even if Iraq had any weapons of mass destruction, the administration was well aware thatit was no threat to the United States. Even Richard Perle and David Frum admit in their new book, An End toEvil, that Iraq would never attack directly nor indirectly since, given the hysteria being built up, anyWMD attack by terrorists would certainly have called down retribution on Iraq.

The Iraq War wasn't the result of an intelligence failure. It was the result of a spectacular politicalsuccess -- the maneuvering of a nation to war, over the objections of the world community, when no threatexisted.

Now, as the pre-war claims continue to unravel, the White House has accepted a "bipartisancommission." But if the focus remains on intelligence failures, Bush has already won the politicalbattle, no matter what the composition of the commission. There will be admissions that mistakes were made,data was misread, and some interpretations were unsubstantiated. Bush will concede what can't be denied, butcontinue to claim he only had the interests of Americans in mind when he acted.

The Democrats could contest the Bush propaganda but they seem to be suffering from an intelligence failureof their own; if they continue on their usual path, they likely will offer mild criticisms and then move alongout of fear of being seen as "soft on national defense." Journalists likely will write about ituntil it is deemed to be old news, moving along out of fear of being tagged as the "liberal media"out to destroy a God-fearing conservative president.

But the question will linger in the minds of many: Does it matter that the president and his top officialslied to manufacture the pretext for a war? In a democracy, shouldn't it matter?

Rahul Mahajan is the publisher of EmpireNotes  and author of Full Spectrum Dominance: U.S. Power in Iraq and Beyond. RobertJensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin and author of Citizens of theEmpire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity.

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