Tuesday, October 14, 2003

The Imminent Lie
I have already posted on this a few times, but I haven't really stayed entirely on top of it. Fortunately, there are other people out there with more energy, or time, or something. This is going to be a long post because I find this fascinating and frightening. Besides the fact that this issue -- did Bush lie about an imminent threat? -- affects how we understand and evaluate the Iraq war, it provides a revealing look at our media.

I have long thought that the media's greatest sin was that it only told half the story. I didn't think they would go so far as to tell outright lies. The way the "official" story has spread and taken over is very reminiscent of 1984. It seems that if everyone conspires to deny the truth, this new version will eventually become the truth. Any discussion we have will be fruitless unless there is some agreement on the basic facts of the matter at hand. This horrible misrepresentation of the facts threatens to erode the foundation needed for any reasoned discussion.

So, here is the truth:
Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.

And here is what Fifth Column, er I mean, Fourth Estate is telling us:
The United Kingdom's Guardian brought forth a whistleblower who claimed that Bush was a liar because, "Iraq posed no imminent threat to either its neighbours or to the United States."

Paul Krugman of the New York Times made the same claim: "The administration's lies about WMDs and Saddam being an imminent threat[.]"

From the CBC (the BBC of Canada), "Bush claimed that Iraq posed an imminent threat to the U.S."

In the Chicago Sun-Times William O'Rourke claimed that "Bush and Vice President Cheney went on and on about Saddam's imminent threat and his many WMD."

Alon Ben-Meir, in the Washington Times (not exactly a liberal news paper) reports that

Try as he may, President George W. Bush has failed to make a case for the necessity of a preemptive strike against Iraq. Whether we find weapons of mass destruction in the months or years to come is irrelevant, because the administration's central arguments for war were entirely based on the "reality" of the imminent threat posed by Iraq.

Helen Thomas, who is supposed to be a reporter, stated that "In the run up to the war, Bush and his team spent months contending that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that were a "direct and imminent" threat to the United States."

The Village Voice's Sydney H. Schanberg stated that
we were told, endlessly, by President Bush and his war cabinet that Iraq, not the Saudi kingdom, posed an "imminent" threat to the security of the United States.

Now that the war has been over for more than three months and our military forces have not yet found any evidence of an imminent nuclear, chemical, or biological threat (though they may still find evidence of such weapons), the White House has changed its story.

Tony Karon in Time states that
Rather than answer some of the specific questions posed by reporters at his Thursday night press conference, President Bush stuck relentlessly to a series of familiar talking points about Iraq: Saddam Hussein has failed to disarm; he represents an imminent danger to America and its allies and the cost of inaction is greater than any risk posed by going to war; the world, and Iraq in particular, will be a better place without Saddam's regime.

Bryan Bender of the Boston Globe stated that "David Albright, a former UN weapons inspector and now director of the Institute for Science and International Security, said: "Iraq did not comply, and I support the Bush administration statements to that effect. But the administration has not been able to substantiate its claim that the threat was imminent. I think Hans Blix and ElBaradei deserve an apology."

Capital News 9 (apparently the capital is Albany, New York) states that "Some members of Congress are complaining about the Bush Administration's prewar comments -- including the assertion that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat to the United States."

All of that is just a small subset of what blogger A.W. has found. And he writes that he has a lot more material, but lacks the time to go through it all.

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