Monday, April 21, 2003

The Howard Baker Question

The Bush Administration took America to war first and foremost to eliminate what was described as the immanent threat of weapons of mass destruction. General Powell pleaded that case at the Security Council. Yes Saddam was a brutal dictator, but regime change was predicated not on the character of his administration but on its threat to the world. So now the active war appears to be over. No WMD's were ever used as the Administration said they might be, and up to now none have been found. Mr. Rumsfeld says he's not surprised despite the fact that his colleague at State had categorically told the world community that they were most certainly present. The UN inspectors were less sure, perhaps more right.

So my question now echoes that of Howard Baker at the Watergate hearings, "what did they really know, and when did they know it?" Before the war, skeptics around the world, not to mention around the country, suggested that this war had more to do with oil than WMD's, possibly also with an overdue face save for Poppy Bush. Well we certainly had enough troops in place to successfully secure the oil fields, but we couldn't spare the scant forces necessary to protect the Iraq's and civilization's irreplaceable ancient treasures. Perhaps oil was not what this was all about but, as they say, actions speak louder than words.

Either the CIA is competent or it's not. If so, and I certainly hope that is the case, then someone knew that there was more smoke than WMD's between the Tigris and Euphrates or, at the very least, that we couldn't be absolutely certain of the immediate threat, much less their existence. What exactly did George Bush and his merry band know? And when did they know it? Thousands of people, many of them innocent citizens, died in Iraq in the name of ridding the world of this terrible threat. We have a right to know if our President took us to a war of still undetermined consequences based on half truths if not outright deception. There can be little doubt that WMD's pose a major threat, much as they have since we dropped the first, and still only, atom bombs on Japan in 1945. The introduction of terrorists into the mix, not to mention continued proliferation across the globe certainly is certainly of real concern. Saddam is a bad guy, but was he really a WMD threat, or was that simply a pretence. What did they know and when did they know it?

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