Who’s telling the truth, Bush or the CIA, and can I have a third choice?
David Corn over at the Nation has some interesting things to say:
Can George W. Bush be trusted as he further heats up the rhetoric on Iraq?
Two days after a horrific bomb blast in Bali, Indonesia, killed over 180 people–including at least two Americans–Bush, appearing at a Republican campaign rally in Michigan, cited the assault as yet another reason for vigorous prosecution of the war on terrorism. But as he rallied the GOP loyalists, he focused less on al Qaeda (which, naturally, is suspected of being associated with the Bali attack) and more on Saddam Hussein. Bush maintained that the Iraqi dictator hopes to deploy al Qaeda as his own “forward army” against the West, that “we need to think about Saddam Hussein using al Qaeda to do his dirty work, to not leave fingerprints behind,” and that “this is a man who we know has had connections with al Qaeda.”
Bush and his administration have offered no proof of any of this. In fact, less than a week before the Michigan event, the CIA had released a letter noting that it had no evidence that Saddam intends to commit terrorism against the United States, absent a US strike against him. (Did the President miss the newspapers that day?) The Agency’s conclusion is hardly consistent with Bush’s claim that Saddam is actively engaged in turning Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network into his own private force. And while the CIA, in that same letter, noted–vaguely–that it possesses “solid reporting of senior level contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda going back a decade,” that, too, is a far cry from Bush’s assertion that Saddam has had direct ties with al Qaeda. [For more on the CIA letter, click on the link for the previous column at the end of this posting.]
Why doesn’t Bush make it easy for himself?
So why doesn’t Bush? The obvious answer is, he can’t. And the public should not fall for any attempt on the administration’s part to play the if-you-only-knew-what-we-know card. The CIA has already presented the best case it can make (or manufacture) out of the classified evidence available to it. Moreover, as The Los Angeles Times, reported a few days ago, those CIA conclusions where produced in an environment in which “senior Bush administration officials are pressuring CIA analysts to tailor their assessments of the Iraqi threat to help build a case against Saddam Hussein.
It’s like Scrabble. If no one challenges Bush’s words–false they may be–they still count as if they were real
Read the article…then email it to your friends.