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Saddam Guilty…Osama Still At Large…Al Qaeda Still Operating

UPDATECliff Schecter rocked this morning on MSNBC.  The look on Rita Cosby's face through this whole interview is hilarious, but the look on Brad Blakeman's face when Cliff calls him a liar is priceless. 

Take a peek at this YouTube.  This is, indeed, Donald Rumsfeld meeting with Saddam Hussein in December of 1983.  Just one short year after the incidents that gave rise to Saddam's guilty verdict, the Republican Administration was playing footsie with the dictator in that old dance we called the Cold War, as a counter-maneuver to Iran, propping up the sadistic chemical weapons producing, nuclear arms aspiring jackass for our own machinations against the Ayatollah.  (And, in some part, also at the Soviets, who used Iran as a thorn in our side client state after the revolution to the extent that they could.)

This is the very same Donald Rumsfeld who leads the Pentagon today.  In whom the military has seemingly lost confidence, and for whose firing the newspapers which serve our military families are calling tomorrow.

Let's be very clear about one thing:  Saddam Hussein is an evil, murderous thug, who made life for any citizen who was not kissing the hem of his robe absolutely brutal and nasty.  He systematically tried to rid the nation of Shiites and Kurds at various points, had anyone who looked at him sideways tortured, raped or executed, and generally ruled Iraq with an iron fist.  A guilty verdict for him in this one case of many, many trials to come, is something that he likely earned fifty times over.  (Although there is no excuse for irregularities in the conduct of that trial and difficulties that the prosecution and defense and judiciary had to survive, including the deaths of many of their family members.  It is very difficult to analyze the trial from the outside, because the information and coverage has been spotty at best, but the conditions under which all of the legal personnel have been working in this have been very, very difficult to watch.) 

However, if putting a murderous thug on trial for the crimes committed against his citizenry is now what the US is going to do across the world, we'd better ramp up our military and empty out the treasury coffers altogether, because there is a long list of thugs we can just run out and hit next…despite what international law and issues of sovereignty say to the contrary.  Oh, except, that's never been US foreign and military policy, has it?  Except, when it is…for Iraq.

None of what Saddam Hussein was as a tyrant — NONE — excuses the Bush Administration from starting a war based on lies and evaporating rationales.  None of it excuses bullying our way through diplomacy as if we were the sole arbiter of thought on the planet.  None of it allows for the Bush doctrine of "my way or the highway" as a means of reviewing information to reach foregone conclusions, ginned up on faith and void of any reality.  None of it excuses starting a war with a nation that was not a security threat to us at the time the war was begun.  Here's some reality for you: preemptive war is a failed policy, and Iraq is exhibit A as to why this should never, ever be done.

We have lost thirteen American soldiers in Iraq already in November.  It is only the 5th today.

The Sunnis are protesting this verdict which, even though it is now subject to a legal appeals process, has inflamed an already tense political situation.  The violence in Iraq is about to get worse, not better, and our troops are now hunkered down amidst an even more volatile civil war.  And why?

Because George Bush wanted to invade Iraq — and he wasn't going to let a little thing like facts or evidence to the contrary stop him from doing so.

It wasn't because of terrorism — there has been no proof whatsoever presented that any al qaeda member was involved with Hussein prior to our invasion of Iraq.  The only thing that comes close is Zarkawi, and he was in Kurdish-controlled territory (ostensibly our allies) prior to the start of the war, and only moved down to Baghdad as we invaded the country.

There is no proof that Hussein was involved in any planning or advocacy of anything involving 9/11.  The President, himself, has admitted as much in public statements.  (Despite Dick Cheney's ludicrous clinging to some blah-bitty-blah from a friend of Chalabi's to the contrary, there is no evidence that Atta and Iraqi intelligence ever met in Prague.  It simply is not true, and that is the honesty of it.)

And after all of this death and destruction, and the ramping up of even more hatred toward the United States due to our horrific conduct at Abu Ghraib (of all places!) and many other detainment facilities, and elsewhere around the country, our willful neglect of Afghanistan which has allowed the Taliban to strengthen and gain control of parts of that war-torn nation again, and the stretching thin of our military, the failure to adequately address the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis, the neglect of the threats coming from Iran and North Korea who could, indeed, have capabilities to produce real weapons that could threaten the safety of our allies in their regions…the list is endless.

How much have we spent in Iraq to get this far into a civil war with no end in sight?  Around $300 billion, give or take a billion?  Oooooh, look, we got a shiny guilty verdict for Saddam Hussein, and a nation that is so broken that 2 to 3 thousand Iraqis flee across the border a day.

But the cherry on the top of this mess?  Where is Osama bin Laden?  Five years after we declared war on Osama bin Laden and al qaeda, both are still up and operating.  And the unit that was in charge of hunting Osama?  He was such a priority for the Bush Administration that they have disbanded them.

And what do we have to show for it?  A rapidly emptying US treasury and a substantial amount of national debt, a military stretched so thin you can see through the line in places and military families who are barely making it through the end of the month subsisting on food donations and a whole lot of prayer.  An endless string of soldier burials, and so many soldiers whose lives have been forever impacted by great physical injuries and mental scars that will be all too slow to heal. 

And the Iraqi people?  Well, they are caught in the middle of a bloodbath — between religious and civil factions fighting it out for a share of the power, constant kidnappings and torture victims being tossed nightly into the streets, and militias who demand fealty or lives in payment…and electricty on average in Baghdad 3 or 4 hours per day.  Parents are terrified to send their children to school for fear they will be kidnapped or killed on the way.  Businesses are closing in areas where violence is highest, and people are terrified to venture out to buy groceries.  Iraqis are too terrified to even venture to the morgue to identify their family's dead, and hundreds of unidentified bodies are buried in Iraq every week as a result.

So, how's that Bush Administration strategery for the war on terror and the quagmire in Iraq working for you now?

The time for accountability is now.  Had enough?  Vote for Democrats.  And get everyone you know to do the same.  Our nation needs a change, and fast, and the rubber stamp Republicans are only going to give us more of the same.  We simply cannot afford this unchecked idiocy any longer. 

Where's Osama?

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com