Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Bushes: America's First Family of Deceit (and crime and coincidence, etc)

For decades, the well-connected Bush family has been treated like a kind of American royalty in which a petulant king or prince can stamp a foot and insist that whatever the evidence says the truth is otherwise. Their subjects are expected to bow in acquiescence, while dissenters can expect a good thrashing.

George H.W. Bush did this during the early Iran-Contra scandal, insisting he was “not in the loop” despite extensive evidence that his vice presidential office was a hub for the secret operations in both Central America and the Middle East. Rep. Lee Hamilton and other bipartisan-seeking Democrats gently let Bush off the hook in the congressional Iran-Contra report, clearing him for the 1988 presidential election.

When Iran-Contra independent counsel Lawrence Walsh finally broke through the Bush cover-up in 1992, Walsh was pilloried across Washington as a crazy old man, a Captain Ahab pursuing the White Whale. George Bush Sr. then destroyed Walsh’s investigation by pardoning six Iran-Contra defendants in December 1992. [For details see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege.]

Now Bush’s eldest son, George W. Bush, is turning to this tried-and-true family tactic to extricate himself from his own web of lies and distortions about the Iraq War. In a Veterans Day speech on Nov. 11, Bush accused those who question his alleged misuse of pre-war intelligence of being the real guilty ones who have distorted the facts.

“It is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began,” Bush scolded his critics. “These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America’s will.”

New Lies

In essence, Bush’s argument is that he didn’t lie the nation into war; he and his top aides were just misled by the same faulty intelligence that Congress saw. Plus, they say independent commissions already have cleared Bush of hyping the evidence.

However, as a Washington Post analysis politely observed in response to those two arguments, “neither assertion is wholly accurate.”

The White House sees far more detailed intelligence than what is shared with Congress, which found itself depending on a CIA-compiled National Intelligence Estimate that downplayed or left out objections to key pro-war assertions, the Post wrote.

The Post article also noted that neither the Senate Intelligence Committee nor a Bush-appointed commission, headed by retired Judge Laurence Silberman and former Sen. Charles Robb, gave much attention to how the intelligence was used – or misused – addressing instead how it was produced. [Washington Post, Nov. 12, 2005]

The Senate committee has balked at a promised second study that was to focus on whether policymakers compounded the faulty intelligence by cherry-picking the most alarmist information about Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction. For its part, the Silberman-Robb commission’s charter excluded a probe into possible misuse of the Iraq intelligence by policymakers, so no conclusion on Bush’s behavior was reached.

Indeed, the latest attack from Bush and his top advisers on people demanding answers about pre-war deceptions looks a lot like déjà vu, a continuation of the long pattern of distortion and intimidation that has marked the U.S. trail into the Iraq quagmire.

Yet, what may be most stunning is Bush’s chutzpah in insisting that he’s the innocent victim here. He portrays himself first as the victim of the CIA’s faulty pre-war intelligence and now as the victim of reckless accusations that he helped cook the final intelligence product before it was fed to the public.

Proof of Lying



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