Iraq and 9-11: Wrong About Everything

September 13, 2004 at 6:01 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

Today’s Progress Report was so packed with good info, I decided to repost the whole thing here. (And I’ll say it again: sign up to receive their free, daily email, and read it every day! They are simply the best.) It’s a start on something I’ve been wanting to write for GRL for some time now, showing that despite the spin we’re fed every day, the Bush administration has been, as a matter of fact, wrong about everything.

  • We were told that Iraq definitely, absolutely, had WMD, and was a serious threat to our national security. Wrong. No such threat ever existed, and we now know that they did all they could to gin up evidence and distort the truth to push us into war. In fact we know they’d decided to do that a long time before, even before 9-11. We were hoodwinked.
  • We were told that the Iraqis would welcome us with open arms and that the war would be short. That couldn’t have been farther from the truth. The war continues at higher levels of hostilities today than the day after Dubya made his little aircraft carrier photo op. Over 1,000 of our soldiers, and untold thousands of Iraqis, have been killed for no good reason.
  • They said the cost of the war would be $87 billion. As a “supplemental” funding provision, so it wouldn’t mess up the pretty picture of their defense budget. And they fired the administration official who said the real cost would be closer to $200 billion. Guess which one was right?
  • They promised that life would be better for Iraqis after Saddam was gone, that we’d repair their country and they’d be grateful. In fact, there is less of a functioning infrastructure now than there was before we went in. Another “miscalculation,” or an outright lie designed to manufacture consent for their war?
  • They promised that the war would be largely self-financed by Iraqi oil. That’s probably the worst joke of all. Billions in revenue from their oil has gone “missing” while Halliburton et. al. have profited to the tune of billions in no-bid contracts, where most of that money came from you and me. Another “miscalculation?”
  • They promised that Iraq would be self-governing quickly and effectively. That now seems like a distant and unrealistic hope. They can’t even stage a safe and complete election now.
  • Bush promised that taking out Saddam would make America safer. Some of us dissented, saying that it would be more like whacking a hornet’s nest, and in all likelihood would result in fomenting more anti-U.S. sentiment and chaos–a perfect breeding ground for terrorism. We were denounced as unpatriotic, even traitors, for refusing to go along with that “safer” line. Guess who was right? And yet Bush still insists that somehow, he’s made us safer. Without any evidence to support that claim.
  • We were told that there were definitely links between al Qaeda and Saddam. And that the Saudis did not have any direct connection to Islamic fundamentalists. I always said that the inverse was actually true, and guess what, now we have the evidence. The 9-11 Commission debunked any assertion of links between Saddam and al Qaeda, as had others before them, and yet Bush and Cheney have continued to claim that those connections existed. As if were were all too stupid to believe anything other than what they said. And now we have the families of the victims of 9-11 suing the Saudis for their *indirect* support of Islamic fundamentalist terrorists, because that’s were a lot of al Qaeda’s money came from. (To be fair, it indirectly came from you and me, via the oil we bought from them. And let’s not forget that bin Laden’s gang was financed and trained by the US to fight a proxy war against the U.S.S.R. for us in Afghanistan.)
  • Bush and Condi and the gang told us that they had no warning about the 9-11 attacks. We now know that in fact they did have numerous and very specific warnings, from the CIA and Richard Clarke, our terrorism expert, that al Qaeda was planning a massive attack, probably using hijacked planes. But somehow, the Bush team didn’t see those warnings as urgent or “actionable.” They were dead wrong.
  • Bush and Giuliani reassured New Yorkers that there was no environmental threat to fear from the WTC collapse. Wrong again. And now the lawsuits are starting to come. Was that a “mis-” something or other? Oh, come on. It was a flat-out lie. They had the evidence that the levels of various toxins were far higher than was safe, and they squelched it.
  • When the Abu Ghraib prison scandal broke, Bush assured us that it was the work of “a few bad apples.” Now we know that top lawyers working for Bush had dissembled about Geneva Convention protections, and come up with rationales to permit torture. We know that shadowy military police and CIA figures were at the center of the abuse, and we know that dozens of high ranking officers knew about the abuse and either ordered it, permitted it, or ignored it. What kind of a “mis-” is that?

It’s a long list. Longer than I have time for. In fact it might be easier to ask the opposite question: of all the claims that the Bush administration and the neo-con chicken hawks have made, which of them have been right?

They’ve been wrong about everything. And they have stopped at nothing to discredit, ruin, and paint as traitors anyone who stood for the truth and disagreed with them. So what’s wrong with the Americans who would rather ignore all of the evidence, believe the lies, and continue to support Bush? How can they continue to trust someone who has so blatantly and repeatedly abused that trust? Has fear made us so blind to the truth?

–C

AMERICAN PROGRESS ACTION FUND

The Progress Report 9/13/2004
by David Sirota, Christy Harvey, Judd Legum and Jonathan Baskin
www.progressreport.org

Correction: In Friday’s Progress Report, we mistakenly said $145 million has been spent by the U.S. government in Iraq. The figure is actually $145 billion. We regret the error.

IRAQ
Out Of Control

The mission in Iraq is far, far from accomplished. A surge in deadly violence this weekend brought the bloodiest day in Iraq in recent months; suicide bombings, mortar fire and fierce battles between insurgents and U.S. and Iraqi security forces, including a firefight between an Iraqi crowd and a U.S. helicopter crew, killed dozens, leaving even more injured. Attacks against U.S. forces now average 87 per day, the worst monthly average, reports Newsweek, “since Bush’s flight-suited visit to the USS Abraham Lincoln in May 2003.” Casualty figures keep escalating: the U.S. death toll passed 1,000 last week and over 7,000 have been wounded. Secretary of State Colin Powell admitted this weekend, “We did miscalculate the difficulty” of winning the peace in Iraq.

FALLUJAH FAILINGS: In a significant setback for U.S. efforts in Iraq, Fallujah, one of the nation’s biggest cities, is now entirely under the control of rebel insurgents. This weekend, the Iraqi military force put in place in the explosive city by the Marines disbanded. There is strong evidence that many members have been working with insurgents against the U.S. forces that provided them with weapons and paychecks. Last April, the White House withdrew Marine troops from the city, hoping the newly created Brigade would work with the Iraqi government to fight the insurgency. The city quickly fell under the control of the insurgents, as many in the Brigade openly joined the rebel forces against the United States. Today, the city is a safe haven for insurgents, a place to “take refuge, plot attacks and run manufacturing centers for car bombs and other explosives.”

GENERAL DISAGREES WITH APPROACH TO FALLUJAH: Lt. Gen. James Conway, the outgoing U.S. Marine Corps general in charge of western Iraq, said yesterday that he had disagreed with the hasty order that sent his troops to invade Fallujah in April as well as the subsequent decision to withdraw from the city and turn over control to the disloyal Brigade. Conway said the disastrous assault increased tensions while making the region more hostile to U.S. forces: “We felt like we had a method that we wanted to apply to Fallujah, that we ought to probably let the situation settle before we appeared to be attacking out of revenge.” Instead, higher ups insisted on the attack, and then demanded troops pull out when the fighting grew fierce. “I would simply say that when you order elements of a Marine division to attack a city, you really need to understand the consequences of that, and not, perhaps, vacillate in the middle of that. Once you commit to do that, you have to stay committed.” Marine Col. Jerry Durrant agrees: “The whole Fallujah Brigade thing was a fiasco.”

LIGHTS OUT IN IRAQ: Nineteen months after the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration has failed to achieve significant reconstruction, contributing to the ongoing frustrations of the Iraqi people. According to Bathsheba Crocker, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, when it comes to economic opportunity, services, and social well-being, “Iraq is actually moving backward.” The Los Angeles Times reports the job of restoring electricity to war-torn Iraq is “steeped in errors and misjudgment.” Electricity for Iraqis was central to White House reconstruction plans, but today, Iraq’s largest source of electricity, the Baiji power plant, “produces less than half the electricity it generated” two years ago. Why is the country still in the dark? Lack of planning, inconsistent leadership and an over-reliance on private contractors. The Bush administration “vastly underestimated the time, money and effort needed to restore the country’s power grid.” It’s indicative of the failures of the entire reconstruction process, still marked by “tainted water supplies, limited sewage treatment and curtailed construction of public buildings.” The ongoing failure has dire ramifications for the unstable security situation, producing “a deep reservoir of confusion and anger that feeds the country’s deadly insurgency.”

PROBLEMS WITH DEMOCRACY: The increased violence has serious ramifications for the scheduled elections. “We’re dealing with a population that hovers between bare tolerance and outright hostility,” says a senior U.S. diplomat in Baghdad. “This idea of a functioning democracy here is crazy. We thought that there would be a reprieve after sovereignty, but all hell is breaking loose.” The Bush White House is blithely insisting elections will occur in January as planned. Security concerns, however, have left others less confident. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stated this weekend on Meet the Press that “It would be lovely if they took place in January, but I sure don’t see it.” Iraqi officials are also increasingly skeptical. One senior Iraqi official told Newsweek, “I’m convinced that it’s not going to happen. It’s just not realistic. How is it going to happen?” Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari echoed that thought, saying, “The timetable really depends at the end of the day on the security situation.” Some worry that the Bush administration, desperate to avoid the appearance of yet another setback, will stick to the schedule despite ongoing problems. Ghassan Atiyya, director of the independent Iraq Foundation for Development and Democracy, warns, “Badly prepared elections, rather than healing wounds, will open them.”

ASSAULT WEAPONS
Bush’s Deafening Silence

In 1999, then-Gov. George W. Bush supported the ban on assault weapons, saying “it makes no sense for assault weapons to be around our society.” In 2003, then-White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said that Bush not only “supports the reauthorization of the current assault weapons ban” but would “work with Congress” to make sure it remained the law. But during his presidency, “Mr. Bush has never once demanded that his G.O.P. leaders cease playing first responder to the demands of the gun lobby and take the initiative” to extend the assault weapons ban. When the clock strikes midnight tonight, military assault weapons will – once again – be freely available across the country. (For more Bush flip-flops check out President Bush: Flip-Flopper in Chief.)

NO SURPRISE TO THE NRA: In 2000, NRA First Vice President Kayne Robinson said that if George Bush was elected “we’ll have…a president where we work out of their office” and that the NRA had “unbelievably friendly relations” with Bush. The Los Angeles Times describes the expiration of the ban as “a trophy Bush can lay at the NRA’s feet as the group readies its presidential endorsement.” Pressure from the NRA also caused Sen. Norm Coleman – who supported extending the ban during his 2002 campaign – to switch his position.

ASSAULT WEAPONS POSE ACUTE THREAT TO LAW ENFORCEMENT: According to a 2002 report by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, assault weapons “pose an enhanced threat to law enforcement, in part because of their ability to expel projectiles at velocities that are capable of penetrating the type of soft body armor typically worn by the law enforcement officers.” Last week, scores of law enforcement personnel from around the country – including police chiefs from Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Seattle – assembled at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial “to demand that President Bush and Congress reauthorize the federal assault weapons ban before it expires.”

GUN MANUFACTURERS READY: Gun manufactures have already been “taking orders for semiautomatic rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines” that will become legal tonight at midnight. The gun manufacturer Beretta “has been offering customers two free 15-round magazines after Sept. 14 with the purchase of two of its weapons.” Current law “restricts the capacity of ammunition magazines to 10 rounds.” Armalite Inc. is “allowing customers to order banned assault weapons now and have them shipped once the ban is lifted.” Israel Military Industries Ltd. is expected to reintroduce Uzis to the U.S. market. Robert A. Ricker, a former executive director of the American Shooting Sports Council, predicted “an incredible buying frenzy.”

BROAD SUPPORT FOR EXTENDING THE BAN: A recent poll by the Annenberg Public Policy Center showed that 68 percent of Americans support the ban. Support for the ban extends to all demographics: 61 percent of Republicans, 61 percent of people who live in rural areas and 62 percent of conservatives. Among people who have a gun in their home, a solid majority – 57 percent – support extending the ban.

BOON FOR TERRORISTS: The impact of the expiration of the assault weapons ban may be broader than you think: newly legal assault weapons could find their way into the hands of al Qaeda terrorists. An al Qaeda training manual recovered in Afghanistan urged terrorists “to come to America and buy assault weapons.”

INTIMIGATE
Novak’s Duplicity

In a move of stunning hypocrisy this weekend, journalist Bob Novak went on CNN to demand CBS News reveal the confidential sources which gave them President Bush’s National Guard records. On the Capital Gang, Novak, who has strenusously claimed his right as a reporter not to reveal his sources to law enforcement officials in the leak of an undercover CIA agent, said, “I’d like CBS, at this point, to say where they got these documents from.” He then repeated himself: “I think they should say where they got these documents.” The Wall Street Journal’s Al Hunt was perplexed, asking Novak, “You’re saying CBS should reveal its source?” He replied, “Yes.” Hunt asked again, “You think reporters ought to reveal sources?” Novak, then embarrassed said, “No, no. Wait a minute…I’m just saying in that case.” Hunt summed up, “So in some cases, reporters ought to reveal sources?” Novak replied, “Yes.”

UNDER THE RADAR

NATIONAL SECURITY – POWELL DISSES CHENEY: Just days after Vice President Dick Cheney embarrassed himself by claiming terrorists would attack America if people voted for John Kerry, he and the Bush campaign sought to “clarify his remarks.” They said Cheney actually meant that Kerry would not respond as forcefully as Bush when an attack occurs. But Secretary of State Colin Powell disagreed. Asked how he believes Sen. John F. Kerry would respond to a terrorist attack, Powell said, “As commander in chief, I think he’d respond to it in a robust way.” Powell had already made news earlier in the week, as British journalist James Naughtie reported the Secretary of State called neo-cons Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz “f—ing crazies.”

9/11 – MORE POTENTIAL DEATHS THAN ACTUAL ATTACKS: According to the UK Independent, which cited a new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, “Up to 400,000 New Yorkers breathed in the most toxic polluting cloud ever recorded after the twin towers were brought down three years ago, but no proper effort has been made to find out how their health has been affected.” The report “provides the latest evidence of a systematic cover-up of the health toll from pollution after the 9/11 disaster, which doctors fear will cause more deaths than the attacks themselves.” The Bush administration “suppressed evidence of increasing danger” and officially announced that the air around the felled buildings was “safe to breathe.” Another report reveals that it has since “failed at least a dozen times to correct its assurances, even when it became clear that people were becoming sick.” Just days after 9/11, the White House’s Council of Environmental Quality – headed by a former asbestos industry lawyer-lobbyist – doctored EPA press releases to claim the air was safe to breathe. In fact, “Asbestos was found at 27 times acceptable levels” near Ground Zero. After that, the White House refused to immediately fund critical health screening tests for those exposed to toxic chemicals during the attack, instead waiting two-and-a-half years to address the situation.

FOREIGN POLICY – FREUDIAN SLIP?: Apparently, the Bush administration has conflated Saddam Hussein with Osama bin Laden so many times that even its own officials have become confused. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld mixed up the names of bin Laden and Hussein twice in a speech at the National Press Club on Friday, at one point referring to Hussein as the leader of the al Qaeda-backed Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. At another point Rumsfeld said, “Saddam Hussein, if he’s alive, is spending a whale of a lot of time trying to not get caught. And we’ve not seen him on a video since 2001.” He meant bin Laden. Rumsfeld might just be following the White House script. After all, in 2002 Bush said, “You can’t distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror.”

TERRORISM – PUTIN’S RESPONSE: Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken swift action in response to a spate of deadly terrorist attacks in Russia, but some are concerned he is using terrorism as an excuse to consolidate his own power. In contrast to President Bush’s foot-dragging on creating the Department of Homeland Security after 9/11, Putin has quickly proposed a new federal agency to “engage non-governmental organizations and other groups to mobilize society in the fight against terror.” But some of Putin’s other proposed changes could limit democracy in the country. He is seeking changes in election procedure, for instance, which could “further increase the clout of the pro-Kremlin faction and its allies that already enjoy an overwhelming majority.” Putin also plans to propose legislation providing for regional governors in the Duma to be elected by regional legislatures “on the recommendation of the president. Putin had already seriously cut into the governors’ powers but he appears intent on doing away with any vestiges of their autonomy.”

HOMELAND SECURITY – INSECURE BORDERS: An investigation by Time Magazine supports 9/11 Commission findings that the Bush administration has failed to establish effective border security since 9/11. Time reports, “Despite all the talk of homeland security, sneaking into the U.S. is scandalously easy—and on the rise. Millions of illegal aliens will pour across the U.S.-Mexican border this year, many from countries hostile to America…The U.S.’s borders, rather than becoming more secure since 9/11, have grown even more porous. And the trend has accelerated in the past year.” A nationwide survey of the U.S. Border Patrol conducted last month found the majority of the nation’s customs and border officials believe “they are ill-equipped to prevent another terrorist attack.” Read more about the Bush administration’s inadequate efforts to improve border control and plug other gaps in Homeland Security in American Progress’ report, “Failing Grades.”

DON’T MISS

DAILY TALKING POINTS: Conservatives Aiding and Abetting Terrorists and Criminals.

EDUCATION: American Progress’s Ben Hubbard and David Halperin on the myth of the liberal campus.

ECONOMY: That Rosy Unemployment Rate.

IRAQ: Salem Chalabi, failing to return to Iraq to face murder charges, reportedly removed from overseeing Saddam’s trial.

JUSTICE: Study finds judges appointed by President Bush are the most conservative on record in the areas of civil rights and civil liberties.

9/11: New York’s Port Authority joins lawsuit against Saudi Arabia for terror attacks that killed almost 3,000 Americans.

DAILY GRILL

“They could sense I would be one of the great pilots of all time.”

- George W. Bush on his military service, 1988

VERSUS

“George W. Bush began flying a two-seat jet especially designed for training purposes more frequently in the weeks just before he quit flying for the Texas Air National Guard… The T-33 jet is designed to help train pilots early in their career, allowing for a more experienced pilot to sit behind a trainee before the trainee is permitted to fly solo in a single-pilot jet.”

- AP, 9/10/04

DAILY OUTRAGE

Bob Novak, who won’t reveal who helped him disclose the identity of an undercover CIA operative, went on CNN and demanded CBS reveal its confidential sources.

© Copyright 2004 by American Progress Action Fund. All rights reserved.

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