Mudcat Café message #1596089 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #62901   Message #1596089
Posted By: Amos
02-Nov-05 - 08:47 PM
Thread Name: BS: Popular Views of the Bush Administration
Subject: RE: BS: Popular Views of the Bush Administration
In his new book on the US in Iraq, New Yorker writer George Packer calls the (Iraq) conflict "the Rashomon of wars" one whose cause, like the brutal crime at the centre of the Japanese film, remains little understood despite multiple retellings.

"Why did the US invade Iraq?" he wrote. "It still isn't possible to be sure and this remains the most remarkable thing about the Iraq war." Two and half years after the US launched the war, with more than 2,000 US soldiers killed and the monthly death toll still rising, questions over how and why the US went to war are again roiling Washington.

Senate Democrats on Tuesday used a highly unusual procedural manouvre to force the Republican majority into concluding a long-promised Senate intelligence committee investigation into whether the White House was selective and misleading in its use of intelligence on Iraq to make the public case for going to war.

This follows the indictment last Friday on perjury charges of Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the powerful chief of staff to Vice-President Dick Cheney, arising out of the investigation into whether White House officials broke laws to try to intimidate a critic of the war. He is due to be arraigned before a federal judge in Washington today.

Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic leader, charged that the indictment "provides a window into what this is really about: the administration manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq, and attempted to destroy those who dared to challenge its actions."

The charge is stunning, because it is sharply at odds with two exhaustive investigations into the lead-up to the war. The 511-page report of the Senate intelligence committee last year, and the 618-page report of a White House-appointed team led by Laurence Silberman and Charles Robb this year, reached nearly identical conclusions: that President George W. Bush was a blameless victim of faulty intelligence. And both concluded that the intelligence was skewed by poor tradecraft and weak analysis not by political pressure from the administration to manufacture a case for war.

But those conclusions have never seemed wholly persuasive, in part because they conflict with what former officials have said about the decision to go to war. Richard Clarke, the former terrorism tsar, and Paul O'Neill, former Treasury secretary, have both said that Mr Bush was obsessed with Iraq immediately after the September 11 attacks.

According to numerous accounts, the president made the decision to go to war well before US intelligence agencies began to warn seriously in the summer and autumn of 2002 that Iraq might be reconstituting its nuclear weapons programme. Richard Haass, the former State Department director of policy planning, told Mr Packer that in June 2002 he had met Mr Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, to express the department's misgivings over going to war. "Save your breath," she is said to have responded. "The president has already made up his mind."

The criticisms over how the US went to war do not come only from those who stand to gain politically. Lawrence Wilkerson, for 16 years the top aide to Colin Powell, former secretary of state, stunned Washington last month when he claimed that every critical foreign policy decision in the administration's first term, including the decision to go to war in Iraq, was made by a small secretive "cabal" headed by Mr Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, defence secretary. Any dissenting administration voices were ignored. Ms Rice "was simply steamrolled by this cabal".

Steamrolled by a cabal -- thus, the nation.