White House guilty of lethal lies

by Jim Longworth

There are all types of lies, and as many reasons for telling them as there are people spewing them. There are so-called “white lies” such as the one you tell a friend when you don’t want to hurt her feelings about the ugly new dress she just bought. Then there are the kinds of lies we tell to cover our butts. These canards are usually communicated to a parent, spouse or employer when trying to escape their wrath by deflecting blame elsewhere.

For the most part, though, lies are passive and rarely lethal. The exception to that rule is President Bush, who tells the kinds of lies that get people killed.

Last week, two independent, non profit groups released a report that documented 935 false statements made by Bush and his inner circle regarding Iraq. The Center for Public Integrity and the Fund for Independent Journalism studied how Bush, Cheney and a few others lied about the risk posed by Iraq in the two years following 9-11. The study concluded that the statements “were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion, and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses”.

Lies generated from the White House came in many forms via speeches, briefings and interviews. More than 500 of the fibs were about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction, or that al-Qaida was linked to Saddam’s regime. Of those, 244 came from Colin Powell (at the request of his boss), and 231 came from Bush directly.

White House spokespersons criticized the non-partisan study, saying that the president had acted on bad intelligence (there’s a joke in there somewhere, but this is a serious subject, so I won’t stoop to such base humor). There are, however, two flaws with that defense. First, the sole source of Bush’s pre-invasion intelligence was a copy of a letter found by Italian spies that was supposedly written from the Niger government to Saddam, confirming the sale of uranium to Baghdad. Italian intelligence turned the letter over to our CIA, and the Bush invasion of Iraq ensued.

But last April, Washington Post editor Peter Eisner told ABC News that a simple Google search by the CIA would have shown that the letter was bogus and riddled with false statements.

Clearly, Bush’s staff had the ability to run a fact check on one correspondence. Even a local newspaper reporter knows to corroborate his source before going to press. But the president of the United States failed to verify the authenticity of a letter before taking us into war.

Second, even absent a fact check, Bush knew that the information was false shortly after he invaded Iraq. In September 2003 he broke the news of the gaffe, and could have apologized then brought the troops home immediately. We had sustained very few casualties at that point, and an organized withdrawal would have been the appropriate course of action. Instead, we’ve remained in Iraq for over four years since we learned the truth, and during that time more than 4,000 soldiers and 700,000 innocent Iraqi men, women and children have lost their lives.

But it gets worse. Remember that the new study only documents lies told by the White House from 2001 to 2003. Did Bush wise up after that? Did he mend his ways? No. For example, shortly after the US occupation, George W. stated that he would pull our troops out any time the Iraqi government asked him to.

Guess what? In June 2005, 82 prominent members of the Iraqi Parliament wrote a letter calling for an immediate withdrawal of US forces. They represented a diverse cross-section of Sunni Arabs, Shiites, Kurds and Christians, and their missive (of which Bush was aware) was delivered to their president.

Soon after, the United Iraqi Alliance (the largest voting block in Parliament) reported that their request for US troop withdrawal had been ignored.

And what about the December 2005 letter to Congress from Bush’s Department of Justice, saying that a domestic spying program was needed ever since the Twin Towers attack? But the fact is that the White House had begun collecting data from AT&T and other sources on Day 11 of the Bush administration back in January 2001, seven months before 9-11.

The other day, someone asked me why we should be concerned with past lies. After all, aren’t we just beating a dead horse with this issue? The truth is that we should be greatly concerned because Bush’s past lies are continuing to cost us lives and dollars, and because he continues to lie in order to advance his various agendas.

As was mentioned earlier, the real cost of the war has been loss of human life. But we cannot discount the tragic consequences of financial expenditures in Iraq.

According to the National Priorities Project, we have spent more than $488 billion on Bush’s war of lies. That’s nearly a half a trillion dollars for nothing!

NPP even breaks down the cost by state in terms of human services that we could have funded with the war monies.

For example, nearly 6 million children could have had health care. Or, we could have added 324,782 police officers, hired 262,746 new elementary school teachers or built over a thousand new schools. Or, if Bush was so concerned with terrorism, we could have used the money to hire 179,935 port inspectors. But we didn’t, because Bush had that money tied up in a war that should have never been waged in the first place. And now he’s rattling sabres about invading Iran and Pakistan.

Years ago, the House of Representatives brought impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton for having oral sex in the Oval Office with Monica Lewinski.

Now we have a president who lies and kills people, yet has never been personally investigated a single time.

Given the findings of this new study, Bush should be impeached before another day goes by, before another soldier dies or before another dollar is spent in Iraq. Any congressman who fails to bring forth those articles of impeachment will have blood on his hands. And that’s far worse than a stain on a dress.

Jim Longworth is the host of “Triad Today,” which can be seen Fridays at 6:30 a.m. on ABC 45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 10 p.m. on WMYV 48 (channel 15).