The Quick Slide From Incompetent To Liar
Erosion is usually a slow process, but not so for Bush administration credibility. There is something satisfying, if a bit frustrating, to see information that many of us on the left have known for years, finally making it into newspapers and onto newscasts. We knew that Bush lied us into the war in Iraq, we knew his administration went after critics with a vengeance and we knew that they’ve been covering up those lies from the very beginning, but now the rest of the country is getting the chance to know it too.
On the heals of Seymour Hersh’s article in the New Yorker exposing Bush administration plans to use tactical nuclear weapons in their effort to spark regime change in Iran, it seems the press has decided it doesn’t want to sit idly by and wait to cover the devastation such a move would cause.
The Washington Post declares today that the Bush administration knew they were lying when they said that they had found WMD in Iraq. As the words, “We have found weapons of mass destruction” were leaving President Bush’s lips, the Pentagon had already informed him that the mobile biolabs recovered in Iraq had nothing to do with WMD. In the past, Bush has been able to spin the cherry picking of intelligence as “a different point of view” and even on occasion a mistake. But this time, he knowingly lied to the American people and that makes all the difference.
With the problems in the 2004 election, the failure in Iraq, the Downing Street Minutes, the NSA illegal surveillance, and the CIA leak case, Bush has been able to avoid any responsibility and the press has done nothing but make a little noise. Each time there is proof of administration culpability in deceiving the public, they seem to find a way to wiggle out of it. Many of us over the last couple of years have thought, “this is it, they’ll never get away with this one,” but they do. It feels like this time might be different, but we’re too jaded from past experience to be too hopeful.
This new revelation from the Washington Post may not yield much, but it does seem to be part of a whole piling on by the press. Maybe they’re not as afraid of crossing a President with a 37% approval rating, or perhaps they have finally had enough, whatever the reason, it may just spur on those who’ve been sitting in the shadows waiting for an opportunity to tell the truth. Colin Powell seems to have received the memo giving the all clear.
According to Robert Scheer at Truthdig, Powell gave him the skinny on the Niger claim.
“The CIA was pushing the aluminum tube argument heavily and Cheney went with that instead of what our guys wrote,” Powell said. And the Niger reference in Bush’s State of the Union speech? “That was a big mistake,” he said. “It should never have been in the speech. I didn’t need Wilson to tell me that there wasn’t a Niger connection. He didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. I never believed it.”It would have been nice if Mr. Powell had shared that information publicly when he resigned, but whatever, he’s saying it now and he is still a voice that carries a lot of credibility with Middle America.
Powell’s statement also puts the whole CIA leak case into perspective and I have long thought that Patrick Fitzgerald’s case could very well be the one that brings this administration down. The news last week that Bush and Cheney authorized the leaking of classified information is a political problem for sure, but it could lead to impeachment, even with Republicans in control of Congress. It may have been legal for the President to order the leaking of classified information, but impeachment is not only a legal remedy, it is a political one as well. As Dave Lindorff at Counterpunch explains,
“lying to the American people was voted out of the House Judiciary Committee as in impeachable offense in the case of President Richard Nixon, and was one of the counts approved by the full House of Representatives against President Bill Clinton. While not a statutory crime, Congress has long held that lying to the public can be a “high crime” meriting of impeachment under the Constitution.”
There is little doubt left that Bush has repeatedly lied to the American people and the evidence of those lies is beginning to make its way into even the mainstream news. We’ve been here before, staring at facts that prove beyond a reasonable doubt that this President should be impeached, but if the pile on continues, if there is a backlash against Bush administration plans to bomb Iran, if career military men resign over the proposed use of nuclear weapons, if Fitzgerald can indict more members of the Bush administration, if the public decides that they’ve been lied to for the last time, maybe, just maybe Republicans in Congress will be forced to hold this President accountable. It certainly won’t be because it’s the right thing to do, but it may prove to be their only chance to save themselves and their Party. At this point, I don’t care how Bush goes, as long as he does.