More Evidence—Now comes another official finding about President Bush and Iraq, adding to the assertions that he exaggerated, if not fabricated, his pre-war, invasion-justifying claim that Saddam Hussein was accumulating nuclear material for weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), none of which alleged weapons have been found to exist.
After months of closeted meetings, a 16-member government panel called the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board has found that the Bush White House and the Central Intelligence Agency must share the blame for the president’s false claim, in his State of the Union address last January, that Iraq had nuclear weapons, and other WMDs. The board is headed by Brent Scowcroft, a former national security adviser to the first president Bush. George W. Bush and the Bush speechwriters should have known better, or maybe they did and decided to pump up war anyhow. The Washington Post got an advance look at the panel’s report, due for publication in February.
Another harsh judgment comes from one of Washington’s foremost conservative think tanks, the Cato Institute. In a 23-page report released in December it took a strong whack at Bush’s pre-emptive-war strategy in Iraq.
The report, entitled “Iraq: The Wrong War,” also cites the president’s failure to diminish the terrorism threats of Al Qaeda, which it calls “the real threat to America.” It says Bush has “created conditions for increased anti-American sentiment” in the Middle East and “the ill will of many friends and allies.” To read the report, go to www.cato.org.
The January-February issue of the liberal magazine Mother Jones, named for the famous 19th century labor union activist, has a devastating expose of the Bush administration’s plans to invade Iraq, plotted long before 9/11/01. It is based on an exclusive interview with a retired Air Force intelligence officer. Their website is www.motherjones.com.
Another Bush Tome—Kevin Phillips, a distinguished historian and onetime G.O.P. strategist, has added to his series of readable, serious books on American politics with a new and sharp attack on the Bush administration, American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush, just published by Viking Penguin.
It follows in the tradition begun by such volumes as Lies and the Lying Liars That Tell Them by Al Franken and Bushwhacked by Molly Ivins. As we go to press we have just begun to read Phillips’s book, but reviewers of it are full of lavish praise.
Phillips describes the Bush “practice of crony capitalism” as “government favors for the well-connected and publicly financed rescues of private financial interests. During both Bush administrations such practices flourished to a degree that mocked their ostensible commitment to free markets.”
The book includes a chapter on Bush evangelism. He says: “George W. Bush’s early emergence in national politics, between 1986 and 1994, tapped religious forces akin to those promoting Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel and fueling the rise of Islamic parties in Pakistan, Turkey, and elsewhere.”
Few Were Watching—When 600 registered voters were asked in a recent survey what they thought was “the most important achievement of Congress this year,” 55 percent said they couldn’t think of any, and 6 percent simply refused to answer.
These citizen judgments almost certainly came without benefit of their having scanned the annual “Resume of Congressional Activity,” an official legislative accounting published in theCongressional Record, as the legislative session comes to an end.
The bookkeepers found that 4,547 bills—a five-year record—had been introduced in the Republican-dominated House of Representatives during the 1,003 hours that it met during the first session of the 108th Congress in 2003, but that only 664 bills—14.6 percent—were adopted. The Senate passed 24 percent of the 2,368 measures introduced there during its even longer 1,444 hours in session.
Any New Fans?—Several readers sent us their negative opinions about former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and their strong objections to our use of a piece by her in our October 1, 2003, issue. The complaints included accusations that she is not a genuine Democrat.
Well, now comes the publication by the Washington Post of a recent Albrightian quip: “Do you suppose that the Bush administration has Osama bin Laden hidden away somewhere and will bring him out before the election?”