Some of us old folks remember the when we were young we played a board game named "Clue." Is that still around? Are board games still around? The game was a murder-mystery thing, and you got to say things like "it was it Colonel Mustard in the conservatory with the candlestick." Then you found out you were wrong. There was a movie based on the game - a bit of fluff, although maybe the last time Leslie Ann Warren ever looked sexy.
Anyway, that’s the gimmick of this summary of how we got to where we are in this Iraq business -
President Bush, With the Candlestick...
Robert Parry, Consortium News, June 7, 2005
The contention: "The clues are falling into place, pointing to the incontrovertible judgment that George W. Bush willfully misled the United States into invading Iraq, in part, by eliminating the possibility of the peaceful solution that he pretended to want."
Well, sometimes pulling all the clues together in one place helps solve some mysteries. So the following might be useful in that sort of way.
And what should we consider?
The Hanley item is here - and the whole thing was Bolton’s employment for a bit. We said Bustani had to go because he was corrupt – some of us remember that. Some of us were puzzled at the time. And Hanley notes that if Bustani’s Iraq plan had worked out in 2002, "Bustani’s inspectors would have found nothing, because Iraq’s chemical weapons were destroyed in the early 1990s. That would have undercut the U.S. rationale for war." Ah, a back-story.
The latest piece of the puzzle was reported by Charles J. Hanley of the Associated Press in an article on June 4 describing how Bush’s Undersecretary of State John Bolton orchestrated the ouster of global arms control official Jose Bustani in early 2002 because Bustani’s Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons [OPCW] was making progress toward getting arms inspectors back into Iraq. If Bustani had succeeded in gaining Iraq’s compliance with international inspection demands, Bush would have been denied his chief rationale for war, even before U.S. military divisions were deployed to the Persian Gulf. Bustani had made himself an obstacle to war, so he had to go.
Clue Two: The Downing Street memo – discussed in the press in the UK and a bit on this side of the pond. Covered in these pages many times, bit mainly here on 8 May and here on 29 May. Enough said.
Clues Three and Four: War Hysteria and Blind Journalists
Yep. We remember that. But then things went sour and there were no WMD and so on ? and the explaining got even stranger. As discussed before here, on July 14, 2003 Bush said this about Hussein, "we gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn?t let them in. And, therefore, after a reasonable request, we decided to remove him from power."
In November 2002, Hussein let UN inspectors back into Iraq where they searched dozens of sites ? including some suggested by U.S. intelligence ? but found no WMD. The Bush administration reacted to the negative WMD findings by instigating war hysteria inside the United States. The UN inspectors were ridiculed as incompetent; Bush?s domestic critics were called traitors; European allies urging patience were denounced as the "axis of weasels"; French wine was poured into gutters; and "French fries" were renamed "Freedom fries" in flag-waving diners across America.
As Bush?s followers were lusting for war in March 2003, however, UN inspectors were citing good cooperation from the Iraqis as the search for WMD continued. The inspectors? greater obstacle soon became Bush?s insistence on an invasion.
? Despite the UN inspectors? negative WMD findings and Bush?s failure to win a war resolution from the UN Security Council, Bush launched the invasion on March 19, 2003. After three weeks of fighting, U.S.-led forces toppled Hussein?s government and Bush?s popularity ratings soared.
What? He wouldn?t let them in? He did. Oh well.
Parry reminds us too that on Jan. 27, 2004, Bush said, "We went to the United Nations, of course, and got an overwhelming resolution ? 1441 ? unanimous resolution, that said to Saddam, you must disclose and destroy your weapons programs, which obviously meant the world felt he had such programs. He chose defiance. It was his choice to make, and he did not let us in."
But, but, but?.
Journalists played along. Bush got the facts wrong -to put it bluntly either he lied or he was on another planet - but it was unpatriotic to point that out, or something ?
Ah, those were the days! Now its only Fox News and a few others.
? ABC?s veteran newsman Ted Koppel fell for the administration?s spin, using it to explain why he ? Koppel ? thought the invasion was justified. "It did not make logical sense that Saddam Hussein, whose armies had been defeated once before by the United States and the Coalition, would be prepared to lose control over his country if all he had to do was say, ?All right, UN, come on in, check it out," Koppel said in a July 2004 interview with Amy Goodman, host of "Democracy Now."
As Koppel obviously was aware, Hussein had told the UN to "come on in, check it out," but even prominent journalists were ready to put on blinders.
Not even disclosures by administration insiders seemed to matter. When former Treasury Secretary Paul O?Neill and ex-counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke described Bush?s early obsession with invading Iraq, Bush?s defenders fended off the accounts by questioning the motives of the witnesses. O?Neill and Clarke must be bitter or jealous or delusional or simply liars, the Bush defenders said.
Clue Five: The Presidential Debates
What?s to say? "I went there [the United Nations] hoping that once and for all the free world would act in concert to get Saddam Hussein to listen to our demands. They [the Security Council] passed a resolution that said disclose, disarm or face serious consequences. I believe when an international body speaks, it must mean what it says. But Saddam Hussein had no intention of disarming. Why should he? He had 16 other resolutions and nothing took place. As a matter of fact, my opponent talks about inspectors. The facts are that he [Hussein] was systematically deceiving the inspectors. That wasn?t going to work. That?s kind of a pre-Sept. 10 mentality, the hope that somehow resolutions and failed inspections would make this world a more peaceful place." How could Kerry respond?
Back to the game of "Clue" ? Parry?s conceit -
Oh, more press bashing. They we just reporting what Bush was saying. It is not their job to say what he is saying does not match any known facts. That?s our job, or something.
Observing the behavior of the national news media over the past three years has been like watching incompetent players in the mystery game "Clue" as they visit all the rooms and ask about all the suspects and weapons, but still insist on guessing at combinations that are transparently incorrect.
Indeed, the major U.S. news outlets appeared to have been so cowed by the Bush White House that they only grudgingly reported on the Downing Street Memo last month ? and then only after the leaked document had become a cause celebre in Great Britain and on the Internet.
So far, there?s also been next to no bounce on the AP?s reporting about the real motive behind Bustani?s ouster in April 2002. That story would seem to be the final clue ? if one were needed ? to prove that Bush has consistently lied about how and why the United States went to war in Iraq.
At this point, a trickier question might be why the mainstream U.S. news media has performed so badly for so long.
To some extent, the news media?s reluctance to solve the Mystery of Bush?s Iraq War Lies may be explained by a well-founded fear of retaliation from Bush?s powerful defense apparatus ? from the Wall Street Journal?s editorial page to the screamers on Fox News and right-wing talk radio.
But Parry suggests another motive, other than fear of retaliation - a fear of the logical consequence that would follow a conclusion that Bush willfully deceived the American people into this war. He says if that conclusion were to be accepted as true, it would force mainstream editors into a tough decision about whether they should join the supposedly fringe position advocating Bush?s impeachment.
Impeachment? He says that?s the only logical remedy for "a leader who so grievously violated the public trust and sent so many American soldiers to unnecessary deaths."
Well, out the mainstream you get this -
John Bonifaz? Not a household name.
The Downing Street Minutes are deserving, in the words of constitutional lawyer John Bonifaz, of an official "Resolution of Inquiry directing the House Judiciary Committee to launch a formal investigation into whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its constitutional power to impeach George W. Bush, President of the United States."
Bonifaz, who two years ago took the Bush Administration to court on behalf of a coalition of US soldiers, parents of soldiers and twelve Members of Congress (including John Conyers Jr., Dennis Kucinich, Jesse Jackson Jr., Jim McDermott, Jose Serrano, Sheila Jackson Lee) to challenge the constitutionality of the Iraq war, adds:
"The question must now be asked, with the release of the Downing Street Memo, whether the President has committed impeachable offenses. Is it a High Crime to engage in a conspiracy to deceive and mislead the United States Congress and the American people about the basis for taking the nation into a war? Is it a High Crime to manipulate intelligence so as to allege falsely a national security threat posed to the United States as a means of trying to justify a war against another nation based on 'preemptive' purposes? Is it a High Crime to commit a felony via the submission of an official report to the United States Congress falsifying the reasons for launching military action?"
As in previous investigations of "High Crimes and Misdemeanors," such a "Resolution of Inquiry is the appropriate first step in launching this investigation." ?
Also note that on the June 5 edition of NBC's Meet the Press, moderator Tim Russert questioned Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman about the Downing Street memo, and Russert was told the "findings" of this Downing Street Memo "have been totally discredited by everyone who's looked at it," including the 9-11 Commission and the Senate. Not true unless time sometimes runs backward and there's an alternative universe (details here) - but what are you going to do? Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair Tuesday afternoon publicly said: "The facts were not being fixed, in any shape or form at all."
Who are you going to trust?
And here's a useful list of Bush saying we didn't want to go to war at all. You can read the memo or trust what they said, side by side outside the White House.
After the Downing Street Memo: The Case for Impeachment Builds.
No. Impeachment is a non-starter.
Keith Olbermann over at MSNBC on "Countdown" explains why -
Kerry never said that but it was all over the web - Kerry was going to call for the impeachment of President Bush! Olbermann reports getting lots from the right - "You're covering up Kerry's traitorous comment!" ? and lots from the left ? "Corporate lapdog! Why didn't you cover this? Do your job!"
Last Wednesday, Senator John Kerry told the editorial board of the newspaper in New Bedford, Massachusetts, the "Standard-Times," that he was amazed at the lack of American media coverage of the so-called "Downing Street Memo" - notes of a July, 2002 British cabinet meeting that suggested the U.S. was making all the evidence fit a pre-planned invasion of Iraq.
The words of the Democrats' 2004 standard-bearer?: "When I go back (to Washington) on Monday, I am going to raise the issue. I think (the memo) is a stunning, unbelievably simple and understandable statement of the truth..."
Now, let's play Blogosphere-Telephone with that statement.
By Saturday, those quotes, and the original New Bedford story, had been transmuted by a series of foreign and conservative websites into an article that included the line: "Failed presidential candidate Kerry advised that he will begin the presentation of his case for President Bush's impeachment to Congress, on Monday."
Yeah, well, Olbermann called Kerry's office -
Well, you can't always get what you want.
The Senator's office told "Countdown" last night that he never said anything about impeachment and asked our reporter where he'd read that line. The answer was: the websites of NewsMax and Al-Jazeera.
The story originated - on Al-Jazeera.
The New Bedford newspaper story, exactly 746 words long, literally does not include the words impeach, or impeachment.
If this detail is still relevant in these super-heated political times, the story is not true. But at places as disparate as Al-Jazeera and NewsMax, they wanted it to be.
NewsMax, of course, is the conservative news service funded by Richard Mellon Scaife (Mellon Bank was founded in Pittsburgh by his family), and mentioned in this commentary from May 26, 2003 ? the first item in the first issue of Just Above Sunset. Those guys have their agenda. So does Al-Jazeera.
So all the "clues" lead up to impeachment. And Kerry won't go there, but for good reason.
Why? With the president's party in firm control both houses of congress and most of the judiciary, well, what's the point? You'd ruin yourself, and achieve nothing.
Fight the battles where you, maybe, could win. Winning a game of "Clue" is winning nothing.