The Gang that Couldn’t Talk Straight On Iraq
by Peter Kurth
September 30, 2003
The spectacle of the Bush administration trying to lie its way out of the fiasco in Iraq would be funny if it weren't so -- what's the word? Pathetic? Outrageous? Insulting? Too late? I'd write about something else if they gave me a chance, but they never do. Lying is what this pack of varmints does best, and does most. When they aren't lying, they're "misspeaking." And when they're not doing that, they're making it up.
"The pattern is clear," says columnist Robert Scheer in the Los Angeles Times: "Say what you want people to believe for the front page and on TV, then whisper a halfhearted correction or apology that slips under the radar. It is really quite ingenious in its cynical effectiveness." Scheer thinks the American public might finally be waking up "to the stupid and craven things being done in [its] name," but I'm not so sanguine. Arnold Schwarzenegger looks poised to snatch the governorship of California right now -- the era of the halfwit is apparently secure.
Take Colin Powell -- please. I was never one those people who thought Powell was a hero just because he's a white-looking black man who busted Saddam's ass during Gulf War I. No, I figured Powell was just a general in the Army -- like Norman Schwarzkopf, like Wesley Clark -- and that generals, along with sports figures, shouldn't be allowed to say anything once they leave the field.
In my book, this is an unbendable rule, even though a general, Dwight D. Eisenhower, once served two terms as U.S. president without blowing us up. Generals should be out there leading the troops, if you ask me, mapping out strategies and burning down cities. They shouldn't be explaining themselves all over the place, as Powell's been doing lately, with results that convince me he's either as deceitful as his masters or dumber than a box of rocks.
"There was every reason to believe -- and I still believe -- that there were weapons of mass destruction and weapons programs" in Iraq, Powell said on Sunday, facing the nation on ABC's "This Week." The Bushmen sent him out to say this, of course, as they always do, because exactly the opposite is true: There are no WMD's whatsoever in Iraq, as Dubya's special envoy, former U.N. weapons inspector David Kay, is expected to tell Congress this week, in a "classified" report that already has the White House spinmeisters consulting their Crazy 8 Balls in an effort to cope.
Not only that, but Powell himself was caught last week in a trap of his own devising, when reminded of a statement he made in February 2001, after his first trip to the Middle East as Secretary of State. Saddam Hussein, said Powell at the time, "has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors. So in effect, our policies have strengthened the security of the neighbors of Iraq, and these are policies that we are going to keep in place." Asked what might have changed over the past two years to account for such a complete about-face, the good general replied, "A lot," adding, "I don't find anything inconsistent between what I said then and what I've said all along."
Enter Condoleezza Rice, who also popped up on Sunday to say "it was very clear," before we invaded Iraq, that Saddam Hussein had "continued" his weapons program after Gulf War I and that this program was "a gathering danger." In England, they're about to hang Tony Blair for saying the same thing, when the whole world knows it's a lie. But on goes Dr. Rice, spouting untruth, and General Powell, wiping the sweat from his brow as digs his grave and shames his country in the service of oil and money. Saddam "used poison gas to kill 5,000 Kurds in 1988," Powell retorts -- as if we hadn't sold the stuff ourselves, in buckets, to any two-bit dictator with cash on the line.
"Now," says Powell, "if you want to believe that he [Saddam] suddenly gave up that weapon and had no further interest in those sorts of weapons, whether it be chemical, biological or nuclear, then I think you're — it's a bit naive to believe that." It's a bit naive to believe anything from the mouths of these creeps, as the voters in Florida and Texas might have told you before.
Pinocchio himself -- that's Dubya, folks -- turned up in New York last week, ostensibly asking for help from the United Nations, while insisting that "no mistakes" had been made in Iraq and flipping the pages of his speech both forward and backward while pretending to read it. Did anyone else notice that? My mother pointed it out to me between bouts of Tourette's Syndrome, which she says has been brought on by watching too much TV news. Words and curses she never knew she knew now come flying out of her mouth, whenever she sees that block of wood -- I paraphrase -- preening for the cameras.
"Events during the past two years have set before us the clearest of divides," said Dubya to the world, "between those who seek order, and those who spread chaos; between those who work for peaceful change, and those who adopt the methods of gangsters." His speech fell as flat as the land around Crawford, where, if there's a God, he'll be clearing more brush than he can handle after 2004.
Meantime Laura's on a trip to Europe, spreading "literacy" on the only continent left in the world that arguably doesn't need it. Someone should tell the First Librarian -- good works begin at home.
Peter Kurth is the author of international bestselling books including Anastasia: The Riddle of Anna Anderson, Isadora: A Sensational Life, and a biography of the anti-fascist journalist Dorothy Thompson, American Cassandra: The Life of Dorothy Thompson. His essays have appeared in Salon, Vanity Fair, New York Times Book Review, and many others. Peter lives in Burlington, Vermont. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his website at: http://www.peterkurth.com/