It was not bad intelligence, as every Republican alive in Washington--and some Democrats--still keep repeating. The intelligence that there were no WMDs was, in fact, presented to the decision-makers, and the decision-makers--Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld,Wolfowitz, Rice, and so on--lied and said their experts were telling them otherwise. That was in 2003. This is 2015. For 12 years most of the people in the loop who know the truth have kept it hidden. They've said nothing.
There are exceptions: Richard Clarke, GWB's former counterterrorism coordinator, appeared on PBS' Frontline in 2006 and, in an interview riddled with bombshells, dropped this one, which, along with the others, sadly but predictably didn't detonate:
"Yes, the intelligence community made mistakes in erring in the direction of Iraq having weapons of mass destruction. But the president, the vice president, the national security adviser, they went a lot further in their public remarks than the intelligence analysis had gone.
There's nowhere in the intelligence analysis that says there's imminent threat and that we have to do something right away. Yet the president, the vice president, the national security adviser all tell the public, tell the Congress: 'Got to act right away! Something's about to happen!'"In that same interview he said this:
"I remember vividly, in the driveway outside of the West Wing, Scooter Libby, from the vice president's office, grabbing me and saying, 'I hear you don't believe this report that Mohamed Atta was talking to Iraqi people in Prague.' I said, 'I don't believe it because it's not true.' And he said: 'You're wrong. You know you're wrong. Go back and find out; look at the rest of the reports, and find out that you're wrong.' I understood what he was saying, which was: 'This is a report that we want to believe, and stop saying it's not true. It's a real problem for the vice president's office that you, the counterterrorism coordinator, are walking around saying that this isn't a true report. Shut up!' That's what I was being told."Immediately afterward, the White House attack machines went after Richard Clarke, trying to make him out to be the liar and not the other way around. Poor Richard. He's still trying to tell the truth about what he and others knew then, but preaching to the choir has its limitations. A whole lot of tsk-tsking goes on but nothing really gets done. The Bush/Cheney gang still runs free. Cheney, the man we'll always believe was the oily kingpin behind the whole operation, is so unafraid of consequences he still rambles on publicly about the benefits of torture against our supposed enemies.
Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's right-hand-man during his tenure as Secretary of State, rails against the Iraq warmongers every chance he gets, admitting that both he and Powell got sucked in by them, but he stops just short of calling the misinformation falsehoods.
"It's a mess, to be sure," Wilkerson says, "a mess we largely created -- 'we' being George Bush and Dick Cheney and all their minions, myself and Powell included, however reluctantly. I'm fairly certain that no one knows now how to extricate us from that mess. So, most do not want to have that ignorance exposed."
They were lies, Larry. Lies.
Why Michael Morell decided to play Hardball with Matthews (besides hawking his new book) is something only Morell knows, but once he got there it was Katie bar the door! Matthews was gunning for him. From David Corn in Mother Jones:
MATTHEWS: So you're briefing the president on the reasons for war, they're selling the war, using your stuff, saying you made that case when you didn't. So they're using your credibility to make the case for war dishonestly, as you just admitted.
MORELL: Look, I'm just telling you—
MATTHEWS: You just admitted it.
MORELL: I'm just telling you what we said—
MATTHEWS: They gave a false presentation of what you said to them.
MORELL: On some aspects. On some aspects.
"That's a big deal," Matthews exclaimed. Morell replied, "It's a big deal."
Soon after the attack on 9/11 the White House began diverting our attention from Afghanistan to Iraq. It was such a crazy idea nobody believed anything would ever come of it. The craziest part was that the press--the guardians of truth, the defenders of liberty--walked away from their duties and went AWOL.
It wasn't because the hawks were itching to get into battle--the war against Al Qaeda was legitimate; it was justified. We as a nation knew who the enemy was. We understood the need. We never intended to send our sons and daughters to a battleground that didn't involve a real enemy, yet we did just that, and nearly 4500 of them didn't come home. Another 32,000 suffered injuries; lost their limbs, their eyes, and, too often, the part of them that allows them peace.
As Andy Borowitz said yesterday on his Facebook page, "No one could have known that invading Iraq would be a disaster, unless you count the millions of people who protested against it." Our protests were ignored. That war was an unnecessary disaster and we know who to blame, but the time for inquiries is apparently over. There are no planned hearings on the responsibility for the Iraq War, even though we're faced every day with the consequences of a murderous, trillion-dollar war built on lies.
Contrast that with the Republicans' need to know what happened in Benghazi, when our embassy was attacked and four Americans were killed under then-Secretary-of-State Hillary Clinton's watch. So far the Republicans have held 13 hearings, 50 briefings, and have produced 25,000 document pages on the events surrounding the attack. The blame rests on Clinton's shoulders and to their minds she has much to answer for. She'll be required to answer to them at least until November, 2016, when the next presidential election is held. If she wins that election, she'll be required to answer for Benghazi until 2020, assuming she'll decide to run again. If she wins that election, Benghazi will be her ball and chain until Hell freezes over.
But Dick Cheney and George W. Bush have nothing to fear, nothing to answer for. Dick Cheney can appear on dozens of political programs and slake his thirst for war and profit, his hatred for our current president, his disdain for Democrats in general, without a care in the world about the misery his own recklessness has caused.
A furious Chris Matthews left Michael Morell with this thought:
Let me explain to you my position as an American. and why this infuriates me. I knew people in this business who were very objective people who finally went for the war--and we were arguing about it here--because they believed Saddam Hussein possessed nuclear weapons. And you couldn't argue with that once you believed that this final piece of the sales pitch is what did it. And to know, and now hear it from you, that that wasn't based on fact or any evidence or any intel--that it was just made up--that's the case for why I'm so angry about that war. . . I think we got talked into a war by people who weren't being honest.We didn't get talked into that war, Chris We knew all along it was a dishonest pitch made by dishonest people. Those who could have done something at the time didn't fight hard enough to stop them. Without the press, without members of congress, without the movers and shakers, the millions of us who protested were whispering in the wind. There is plenty of blame to go around but the blame lies squarely on George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.
The least we can do for the Iraq war casualties, both foreign and domestic, is to keep this alive: We went into a war based on deliberate lies. The perpetrators walk among us without fear, but we know. We can't forget. We won't forget.
(Cross-posted at Dagblog and Liberaland. Featured on Crooks and Liars MBRU)