Thursday, August 07, 2003

Bush does Jack: “You can’t handle the truth!”

Bush ran on a few simple principles: restoring honesty and integrity to the White House, a more humble foreign policy and “changing the tone” in Washington. STRIKE THREE! Today we’ll focus on “honesty and integrity.” First, Al Gore sizes up the Dubya administration:

"The very idea of self-government depends upon honest and open debate as the preferred method for pursuing the truth," Gore said, "and a shared respect for the rule of reason is the best way to establish the truth. The Bush administration routinely shows disrespect for that whole process, and I think it's partly because they feel as if they already know the truth and aren't very curious to learn about any facts that might contradict it. They and the members of groups that belong to their ideological coalition are true believers in each other's agenda."

As if acting on cue, the President’s spokesperson confirmed Gore’s thesis:

Bush's aides shrugged off the criticism. "I just dismiss it," White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said.

Next, Henry Waxman asserts that the Bush administration plays fast and loose with scientific principles:

The Bush administration has repeatedly mischaracterized scientific facts to bolster its political agenda in areas ranging from abstinence education and condom use to missile defense, according to a detailed report released yesterday by Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.).

The predictable response:

The White House quickly dismissed the report as partisan sniping.

Finally,Walter Pincus, who is like a blood hound on the trail of truth, isn’t quite ready to let the Bushies get away with the “it is just sixteen little words” meme:

Since last month, presidential aides have said a questionable allegation, that Iraq had tried to buy African uranium for nuclear weapons, made it into President Bush's State of the Union address because of miscommunication between the CIA and Bush's staff.

But by the time the president gave the speech, on Jan. 28, that same allegation was already part of a public administration campaign to win domestic and international support for invading Iraq. In January alone, it was included in two official documents sent out by the White House and in speeches and writings by the president's four most senior national security officials.

The White House has acknowledged that it was a mistake to have included the uranium allegation in the State of the Union address. But an examination of how it originated, how it was repeated in January and by whom suggests that the administration was determined to keep the idea before the public as it built its case for war, even though the claim had been excised from a presidential speech the previous October through the direct intervention of CIA Director George J. Tenet.

Dan Bartlett, White House director of communications, said yesterday that the inclusion of the allegation in the president's State of the Union address "made people below feel comfortable using it as well." He said that there was "strategic coordination" and that "we talk broadly about what points to make," but added: "I don't know of any specific talking points to say that this is supposed to be used."

Translation: “Gee, since the boss lied, we thought it was okay.”

Age-old parental wisdom: “If Johnny jumped off the cliff, would you jump off a cliff, too?”

Okay, the advent of bungi cords and extreme sports may have lessened the saliency of this once reliable retort, but you get the idea.

Still, that lame-ass explanation stinks to high heaven for other reasons. Namely, administration members were using it before the President’s SOTU speech:

The first of those documents was a legislatively required report to Congress on Jan. 20 on matters "relevant to the authorization for use of military force against Iraq." It referred to Iraq as having failed to report to the U.N. "attempts to acquire uranium and the means to enrich it." The second document, a report distributed to the public Jan. 23 covering Iraq's weapons concealment activities, highlighted Baghdad's failure to explain "efforts to procure uranium from abroad for its nuclear weapons program."

The same day, the op-ed page of the New York Times included a piece by Rice that said Iraq's Dec. 7 declaration of its weapons of mass destruction to the U.N. Security Council "fails to account for or explain Iraq's efforts to get uranium from abroad." In a speech that same day before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Wolfowitz said, "There is no mention [in the declaration] of Iraqi efforts to procure uranium from abroad."

Three days later, Powell, in a speech before the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, asked: "Why is Iraq still trying to procure uranium and the special equipment needed to transform it into material for nuclear weapons?"

Translation: “Gee, since the boss lied, we thought it was okay.”

Response: “Try again, Pinocchio, the boss hadn’t told that lie, yet.

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