A lot of those not on the left side of the political spectrum are shrugging their shoulders about the Downing Street Memo. This memo, first published in the Times of London on May 1st, 2005, said that the Bush Administration in 2002 was “fixing” intelligence and facts around their predetermined policy to preemptively invade Iraq. Their attitude seems to be, “Yeah, tell me something I didn’t already know.”
And I agree. This certainly wasn’t news to me, even before the war. The Washington Post, for example, in a recent editorial stated that it didn’t bother to report on the Downing Street Memo recently because back in 2002 it had reported similar stories. That we were going to war with Iraq clearly didn’t require an abacus. You don’t amass hundreds of thousands of troops in Kuwait at a cost of billions of dollars unless you intend to use them.
That’s why it was especially infuriating to those tuned into the facts at the time that Bush and his team kept insisting in 2002 and early 2003 that war was not inevitable. Bush’s consistent words have been cataloged here and many other places.
The issue is not that the facts on the ground were at variance with words being spoken by Bush and his officials. The issue is that even though there was this great discrepancy between Bush’s words and his intent, he lied about it. It’s really that simple. He lied publicly, openly, brazenly and frequently to the Congress and to the American public about his intentions in Iraq.
Clinton was impeached for lying about receiving a blowjob from an intern. Yet curiously George W. Bush doesn’t even get the threat of impeachment for repeatedly lying about his intentions in Iraq. Maybe it was because we knew we were being lied to. I knew it. You probably did too. I think the Congress did too. Everyone was winking at each other. We knew that calling off the war if Saddam peaceably disarmed was a polite fiction.
Still the President lied. More importantly he went against the written intent of Congress. For in the Iraq War Resolution there is this:
(a) AUTHORIZATION- The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to
(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and
(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.
We now know that our own intelligence agencies were telling him that Iraq was not a threat to the United States. In fact it couldn’t have been a threat at all, unless Saudi Arabia and Israel are now part of the United States. Please note the use of the word “and” in the resolution. While arguably Iraq had not abided by all U.N. Security Council Resolutions that by itself was insufficient justification by the Congress for war against Iraq. War was authorized to defend the United States from the threat posed by Iraq. If there was no threat then there was no justification for war.
Nowhere in the resolution does it authorize war against Iraq because we want to free the Iraqi people from a sadistic dictator. Nowhere does it say it must be done to bring democracy to the Iraqi people. The criteria are clear: war was authorized if our national security is in danger. You can be sure that had they been the criteria for war against Iraq that it would not have garnered more than a handful of votes.
So the evidence is clear: the President lied to Congress and the American people. If his intent was not malicious and he thought the evidence truly justified invasion even though it didn’t, then he is incompetent. In either case he failed spectacularly in his duty as Commander in Chief.
So here we are more than two years later. Over 1700 of our servicemen and women have died in the Iraq conflict. More than 10,000 are wounded. Going to war is the most serious decision that a president can make. But Bush bungled the decision spectacularly. He did so against the preponderance of evidence. But if the Downing Street Memo is correct, it was not done inadvertently. It was done deliberately, even maliciously. And this too is not news either. The whole purpose of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s Office of Special Plans was to give him the “intelligence” that he needed. The CIA, DIA and NSA could not provide it. The Office of Special Plans was set up to deliberately lower the intelligence standards to provide what Rumsfeld was looking for. So of course intelligence and facts were being fixed around the intelligence.
So what do you do with a president that brazenly lies to Congress and the American people about going to war, who then takes the country to war illegally, and who won’t take seriously intelligence that doesn’t fit his own preconceptions? In any other Congress there would be articles of impeachment. If on a scale of 1 to 100, a president lying about a blowjob is about a 5. A president lying or misleading the country into a war that kills thousands of our citizens is 100. If this Congress were brave enough to do its duty he would be impeached, convicted and be clearing brush now in Crawford, Texas.
It’s unlikely though that this will be this president’s fate. But in the list of catastrophically stupid and egregious presidential decisions this one, if not in first place, would be in the top five. A president this incompetent deserves not one moment of our support. He has earned nothing but our complete and utter contempt.