A year later, we can see just how easy it was. 9/ll left us shaken, angry and terrified it might happen again. We had an opportunity to join together with the majority of the people on earth who truly want a world of peace and unity. We could have sought to understand the desperation of people who resort to this kind of violence because they feel powerless to be heard any other way. We could have proven that the United States was not the evil empire that terrorist organizations tell their young converts we are. We could have looked at how we've supported oppressive regimes in the past and how they've always come back to haunt us. We had the opportunity to be a true superpower in the only way that matters - by using our considerable wealth, knowledge and freedom to benefit all of the world. Instead, our would-be king, a man who only became president because of the vagaries of our electoral college, ignored the precept, "of the people, for the people and by the people". He and his administration deftly used the politics of fear to defy the majority of the world's wishes and turned this country into a living, breathing recruitment poster for Al-Queda.
Scott McClellan, White House spokesperson
“This is about an imminent threat,” said Scott McClellan on February 10, 2003,
when speaking about NATO's need to stand with the United States. [Emphasis added.]
Ari Fleisher, White House spokesperson
On May 7, 2003, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer was asked: “Didn't we go to war
because we said WMD were a direct and imminent threat to the U.S.?”
He replied: “Absolutely.” [Emphasis added.]
Dan Bartlett, White House spokesperson
On January 26, 2003, when asked on Wolf Blitzer if Saddam was “an imminent threat to U.S.
interests, either in that part of the world or to Americans right here at home?” Bartlett responded:
“Well, of course he is.” [Emphasis added.]
On November 14, 2002, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said: “I would look you in the eye and I would say, go back before September 11 and ask yourself this question: Was the attack that took place on September 11 an imminent threat the month before or two months before or three months before or six months before? When did the attack on September 11 become an imminent threat? Now, transport yourself forward a year, two years or a week or a month...So the question is, when is it such an immediate threat that you must do something?” [Emphasis added.]
***note the attempt to link Iraq and 9/11. He never quite says it, but the manipulation and inference is quite interesting, don't you think?
On September 18, 2002, Rumsfeld said: “Some have argued that the nuclear threat from Iraq is not imminent - that Saddam is at least 5-7 years away from having nuclear weapons. I would not be so certain. And we should be just as concerned about the immediate threat from biological weapons. Iraq has these weapons.” [Emphasis added.]
Now, THIS is what the head of the CIA actually told the administration back then:
“Let me be clear: Analysts differed on several important aspects of these programs
and those debates were spelled out in the estimate.
They never said there was an imminent threat." [Emphasis added.]
~George Tenet, February 5, 2004, Georgetown University
So, there was no imminent danger. Nor were there any stockpiles of WMD's. Although, you wouldn't know that by the following excerpt from an interview President Bush gave to Polish television on May29, 2003:
Q: "But, still, those countries who didn't support the Iraqi Freedom operation use the same argument, weapons of mass destruction haven't been found. So what argument will you use now to justify this war? "
THE PRESIDENT: "We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories. You remember when Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he said, Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons. They're illegal. They're against the United Nations resolutions, and we've so far discovered two. And we'll find more weapons as time goes on. But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them."
By the way, I found that on the White House's own website. You can read the whole interview here.
Regardless of what has been said by the administration, there doesn't appear to be any mass stockpiles of WMD's, though the same people still believes they will find them. There is a rather disturbing article that appeared in the Tehran Times on March 13, 2004 about the US secretly unloading cargo ships filled with old weapons parts that looked like the kind we supplied Iraq with during the 1980's. You can read the article here. I don't know if the report is true, but considering what deceptions and out-and-out lies this government has told leading up to and all through this war, I quite frankly would not be terribly surprised. Can't find WMD's? Sneak them in, bury them somewhere and voila, problem solved.
In the meantime, somehow the imminent danger thing disappeared and the war cry became Saddam's connection to September 11th. The problem is, there was no connection, and all assertions to it by the administration have proved to be utterly false. (Amazingly, EVEN TODAY, 70% of Americans believe Saddam was responsible for the 9/11 attack and 50% believe that Iraqis were the hijackers of the planes that day!). Ok, but clearly he was trying to buy uranium from Africa to use in their nuclear weapons facilities...uh, well, no that's not true either....hmm...well, this could go on and on, so I'll just refer you here to see a list of all the 'reasons' we needed to invade Iraq.
Now, of course, with all past assertions falling apart, the administration is attempting to rewrite history and claim we went in there to liberate the Iraqi people from the horrors of Saddam Hussein. This claim is difficult to believe considering how we supported this madman during the 1980's when he was using chemical weapons against the Kurds and Iranians. We helped him use them more effectively by providing him with satellite imagery of Iranian troop positions. The Reagan administration helped Iraq develop biological weapons by allowing Baghdad to import disease-producing biological materials such as anthrax and the West Nile virus. None other than Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who was then President Ronald Reagan’s special envoy to the Middle East, met with Saddam in 1983 with the explicit purpose of encouraging better relations between the United States and Iraq. In October 1989, about a year after Saddam used chemical weapons against the Kurds, President George H.W. Bush signed a formal national security directive stating, “Normal relations between the United States and Iraq would serve our longer-term interests and promote stability in both the Gulf and the Middle East.”
There is no doubt that Saddam was a madman. There is no doubt that the world is better off without him in power. But he did not become a madman overnight. And he had plenty of help from this country and others in becoming the menace he became. So why were we suddenly so concerned with liberating the Iraqi people? Well, I'm sure the administration will have a really nice song and dance to answer that one. In any case, we did it. "Mission Accomplished." The administration envisioned dancing in the streets and being welcomed by a jubilant and grateful oppressed people. Actually, that did happen....in the beginning. But then the occupation began. Chaos ensued. Resistance was more than this administration expected. The borders were never secured, so terrorists that were never there before were now pouring in to take advantage of the situation. (One thing we did make sure to secure right away were the oil fields. But, no this was never about oil. No sir!)
Instead of liberators, we have become occupiers. Reports of corruption and contracts going to wealthy friends of the administration are coming to light more and more in spite of the government's attempts to deflect attention. The lies and distortion about the reasons for going to war continue throughout the occupation, with plenty of help from corporate media which, it seems to me, have become just another mouthpiece for the government line. Iraq is in a shambles. The hospitals have no medicine or adequate equipment. The American men and women who went to Iraq to protect this country and save innocent lives are losing their lives every day. Over 10,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed.
Before the war began, there was one lone voice of reason in the government. I'd like to reprint his speech in the Senate here:
US Senator Robert Byrd
Wednesday ~ March 19, 2003
Speech delivered on the floor of the US Senate
Today, I Weep for my Country...
I believe in this beautiful country. I have studied its roots and gloried in the wisdom of its magnificent Constitution. I have marveled at the wisdom of its founders and framers. Generation after generation of Americans has understood the lofty ideals that underlie our great Republic. I have been inspired by the story of their sacrifice and their strength.
But, today I weep for my country. I have watched the events of recent months with a heavy, heavy heart. No more is the image of America one of strong, yet benevolent peacekeeper. The image of America has changed. Around the globe, our friends mistrust us, our word is disputed, our intentions are questioned.
Instead of reasoning with those with whom we disagree, we demand obedience or threaten recrimination. Instead of isolating Saddam Hussein, we seem to have isolated ourselves. We proclaim a new doctrine of preemption which is understood by few and feared by many. We say that the United States has the right to turn its firepower on any corner of the globe which might be suspect in the war on terrorism. We assert that right without the sanction of any international body. As a result, the world has become a much more dangerous place.
We flaunt our superpower status with arrogance. We treat UN Security Council members like ingrates who offend our princely dignity by lifting their heads from the carpet. Valuable alliances are split.
After war has ended, the United States will have to rebuild much more than the country of Iraq. We will have to rebuild America's image around the globe.
The case this Administration tries to make to justify its fixation with war is tainted by charges of falsified documents and circumstantial evidence. We cannot convince the world of the necessity of this war for one simple reason. This is a war of choice.
There is no credible information to connect Saddam Hussein to 9/11. The twin towers fell because a world-wide terrorist group, Al Qaeda, with cells in over 60 nations, struck at our wealth and our influence by turning our own planes into missiles, one of which would likely have slammed into the dome of this beautiful Capitol except for the brave sacrifice of the passengers on board.
The brutality seen on September 11th and in other terrorist attacks we have witnessed around the globe are the violent and desperate efforts by extremists to stop the daily encroachment of western values upon their cultures. That is what we fight. It is a force not confined to borders. It is a shadowy entity with many faces, many names, and many addresses.
But, this Administration has directed all of the anger, fear, and grief which emerged from the ashes of the twin towers and the twisted metal of the Pentagon towards a tangible villain, one we can see and hate and attack. And villain he is. But, he is the wrong villain. And this is the wrong war. If we attack Saddam Hussein, we will probably drive him from power. But, the zeal of our friends to assist our global war on terrorism may have already taken flight.
The general unease surrounding this war is not just due to "orange alert." There is a pervasive sense of rush and risk and too many questions unanswered. How long will we be in Iraq? What will be the cost? What is the ultimate mission? How great is the danger at home?
A pall has fallen over the Senate Chamber. We avoid our solemn duty to debate the one topic on the minds of all Americans, even while scores of thousands of our sons and daughters faithfully do their duty in Iraq.
What is happening to this country? When did we become a nation which ignores and berates our friends? When did we decide to risk undermining international order by adopting a radical and doctrinaire approach to using our awesome military might? How can we abandon diplomatic efforts when the turmoil in the world cries out for diplomacy?
Why can this President not seem to see that America's true power lies not in its will to intimidate, but in its ability to inspire?
War appears inevitable. But, I continue to hope that the cloud will lift. Perhaps Saddam will yet turn tail and run. Perhaps reason will somehow still prevail. I along with millions of Americans will pray for the safety of our troops, for the innocent civilians in Iraq, and for the security of our homeland. May God continue to bless the United States of America in the troubled days ahead, and may we somehow recapture the vision which for the present eludes us.
Reason did not prevail. The Iraqi people are paying for that. Our troops are paying for that. The world, I fear, will be paying for that for a long time to come.
The arrogance of this president has unleashed more terrorism, not less. As he picks off one terrorist, 10 are being recruited. The world, rather than being a safer place, is becoming more dangerous all the time.
The world is indeed better off without Saddam Hussein in power. We helped give him that power when he was of use to us and thousands of people died. We took his power away when he was no longer useful to us and thousands of people died. We have such a capacity for good, but too often the actions of our leaders cause such incredible suffering in our name.
The voice of reason has been drowned out by protest marches that are too often more spectacle than substance on one side, and chest-beating, flagwaving militarists on the other. While it's vital to a healthy democracy to express dissent or agreement with policy, too often extremists on both sides of the spectrum negate serious attempts at viable solutions. What results is only more anger, finger-pointing and failure to take responsibility for the part each of us plays in creating the world we live in today. There are voices of sanity and reason out there. I have links below to sites that I believe serve the greater good, to news outlets that offer broader viewpoints, and to one mammoth site with links to just about every website with a vision toward building a better world. I hope you will visit these sites, and send me any others that you know of.
Together we must take back our power to create a world where the planet and all life on it can flourish. I believe we also have a duty to ensure that our elected leaders are held accountable for lies, manipulations and abuses of power that undermine the wishes and desires of the people they are supposed to serve. This is OUR country. This is OUR world. If we don't take the time to listen to all sides of the issues and make honest, thoughtful choices, we have no one to blame but ourselves if we are manipulated by money, power, special interests and partisan politics. The internet is a marvelous tool. Go out and meet the neighbors in Iraq, in Africa, in Palestine, in Boise, Idaho. There's a whole lot more going on than the Nightly News is telling you.
I don't know how this will all play out in the end, but I do know that violence begets more violence. I do know that abuse of executive power, and corporate money dictating political policy and influencing a supposedly free media take away the very democracy here that we claim we want to foster elsewhere. I do know that unless we are helping people everywhere live with freedom, dignity and prosperity, we will never eradicate terrorism. Above all, I know that unless and until we see the world as our home, people everywhere as our family, and begin to share with and care for each other, we will never know a true and lasting peace.
The following banner will take you a site with the most comprehensive list
of links I have ever come across, dealing with peace, human rights, politics,
social justice, military, environment...you name it, they seem to have it. In fact
many of the links I have listed above may very well be there. I don't always agree
with the ideas or methods used by some organizations, but the whole point is to
agree to disagree and still honor and respect each other's opinions.
I encourage you to visit there often.
"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiples it.
Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate, In fact violence merely increases hate.
So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that."
~Martin Luther King, Jr.
Recent photographs of appalling abuse of Iraqi detainees have outraged all decent human beings in this country and around the world. Reports of abuse have been made for quite some time by Amnesty International, the Red Cross and many other human rights organizations, but although the US government claims they were all being investigated, a forceful outcry for accountability has been shamefully lacking, in my opinion.
Let me be perfectly clear in my feelings here. This is an abomination to everything this country is about. I don't know how many soldiers, commanders, or government officials are responsible for this outrage, but they are not....I repeat.. NOT representative of the vast majority of decent human beings who live in the US. Nor are they representative of the vast majority of men and women in uniform who risk their lives in Iraq daily. Regardless of my personal feelings about this war, they are there because they wanted to protect the world from terrorism. They are there because they wanted to save the Iraqi people from the horrors or Saddam Hussein, NOT to commit equally reprehensible acts.
The acts committed are beyond decency for any human being...but especially because they have been committed by people who represent this country. They dishonor everything we are. They dishonor the very label of humanity.
I don't know what causes a human being to do such things. I don't understand what I see in these pictures any more than what I see going on daily in Israel or Sudan or anywhere else where violence and hate rear their disgusting heads. How much further do we need to travel on the descending spiral before we all become so outraged that we have the courage to stop and climb back to human decency, cooperation, and sanity?
Iraq - March 20, 2005
Journey To Iraq