One of my favorite columnists, Jay Bookman of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, settles the question of whether or not we can believe that the Bush Admin lied or distorted the facts about Iraq:
Did Bush officials exaggerate and distort prewar evidence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction? Or were they, like the rest of us, simply the victims of poor intelligence work by the CIA and other agencies?The answer is important. Incompetence is one thing; a conscious decision by our top leaders to deceive us into war would be far more troubling. And getting to the truth will be difficult as long as Republican leaders in Congress refuse to conduct a full-scale investigation into the question.
Fortunately, there are other ways to gauge the decision-making process in the Bush administration. The most obvious proof that Bush officials hyped and distorted evidence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction in the past is that they continue to hype and distort that evidence today, with a shamelessness that is stunning.
He goes on to give a cogent example:
However, rather than admit the undeniable truth, Bush and others have tried to magically transform it. If you believe their version of the story, the fact that we have found no WMD in Iraq — and no WMD programs — is of little or no importance. In fact, they argue that the Kay report actually vindicates their claim that Saddam posed an imminent danger to the region and the world. It seems they were right all along.Uh huh. And the Braves are going to win the World Series this year.
This is precisely how a discredited forgery about enriched uranium is transformed into proof that Iraq is building a nuclear weapon. This is how CIA dismissals of a link between Saddam and Osama bin Laden — dismissals backed by investigation and expert analysis — are made to disappear because they inconveniently contradict policy. This is how hype, exaggeration and distortion can be used to alter reality, right out where everyone can see it.
Indeed. As it is, so it was.
How long can they keep it up, you figure? Long enough to steal the next election?
And how is it that people can’t see something this obvious? I mean, come on: a 10-year-old vial of Botox in the refridgerator of a scientist is proof that Hussein was a dangerous maniac who was a clear-and-present threat to the world? They can be as blatant at that, and we still don’t want to believe what we’re dealing with: fantasist radical extremists with a faith-based approach to facts: “If we believe it, it’s true even if it isn’t. Facts aren’t facts, they’re…suggestions. And they mean what we say they mean.”
Jay has it exactly right: It’s easy to believe they did it before because they’re still doing it.