>> Investigate deceptions of war's inception
>> By Jim Mullins
>> May 27, 2005
>> The age-old question -- If a tree fell in the forest and no one heard,
would that mean it never made a sound? -- is apropos to a scandal slowly
emerging on the international scene.
>> The sound of a secret memo leaked to the London's Sunday Times some three
weeks ago, but studiously ignored by the administration, is now being heard
and has demonstrated in its stark wording that "the fix was in" in the
deception of both Congress and the American people leading up to war against
>> President Bush has managed up until now to avoid the reality that, rather
than faulty intelligence portraying Saddam Hussein as an immediate threat to
our national security, the impetus came from within the administration led
by a president thirsting to invade Iraq and willing to "cook the books" in
order to achieve his objective.
>> In all fairness, he may have been influenced by the neocons whose utopian
ideology was rejected by Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton;
but the fact remains that, as President Truman said, "The buck stops here"
in terms of presidential decisions and responsibility.
>> The saga began with the recent release of a March 2003 letter of
resignation by a courageous woman: Elizabeth Wilshurst, deputy legal adviser
to the U.K. Foreign Office. The letter was obtained by BBC under the Freedom
of Information Act and outlines her position that an Iraqi invasion, absent
a second U.N. resolution after 1441, was a violation of the U.N. charter and
an act of aggression. She maintained that her office and Attorney General
Lord Goldsmith concurred on that legal opinion in a 13-page brief given to
Prime Minister Tony Blair prior to Goldsmith's unprincipled reversal of the
legal consensus in a March 7 one-page memo immediately before the war began.
>> An anonymous leaker then provided the London's Sunday Times with copies of
memos that outlined agreements between Bush and Blair a year before the
Iraqi war began. They show that at an April 2002 Texas summit, Blair
acquiesced with Bush in his desire to invade Iraq.
>> And the minutes of a London meeting on July 23, 2003, reveal that the
leader of Britain's intelligence service, MI-6, reported that in a secret
meeting he had attended with officials in Washington: "There was a
perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable.
Bush wanted to remove Saddam Hussein through military action justified by
the conjunction of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. But the
intelligence and the facts were being fixed around the policy." [italics
>> The minutes continued with: "But the case was thin. Saddam was not
threaterning his neighbors and WMD capacity was less than Libya, Iran and
North Korea." Another memo counseled that America and Britain needed to
"create conditions" legitimating war.
>> We know that, in 1999, Bush told his biographer that he intended to invade
Iraq if elected, and that Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill was dumbfounded by
the new president's discussion of an Iraqi invasion at his first Cabinet
meeting. We know from counterterrorism adviser Richard A. Clarke that the
incoming Bush administration had little interest in Osama bin Laden and was
convinced that Saddam Hussein was the threat, all evidence to the contrary.
>> We know that the Bush administration's constant repetition that Saddam
Hussein was the power behind the 9-11 attack was bogus. That our elite
troops were pulled out of Afghanistan within three months to begin training
for an Iraqi invasion, with Osama bin Laden still on the loose.
>> We know that Colin Powell's Feb. 23, 2003, U.N. presentation was a tissue
of contrived deception and exaggeration, that the U.N. inspectors, if
permitted to finish their mission, would have found that for all practical
purposes Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were destroyed -- as Iraq's
prime defector and director of Iraq's WMD development told the U.N. in the
early 1990s and as Scott Ritter, the chief American weapons inspector before
1998, had contended.
>> Eighty eight members of Congress have signed a letter demanding an
investigation of the circumstances leading up to our pre-emptive attack on
Iraq. U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., authored the letter.
>> His remarks that "this should not fall down the memory hole during
wall-to-wall coverage of the Michael Jackson trial and a runaway bride"
should be heeded by all Americans.
>> Jim Mullins is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy in
Washington, D.C., and a resident of Delray Beach.
>> Copyright (c) 2005, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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