It's getting harder to ignore.

  1. Scandal Lurks in Shadow of Iraq Evidence
    By Diane Carman
    Denver Post Columnist
    Sunday 29 June 2003
    It's getting harder to ignore. More and more evidence is emerging to suggest that U.S. intelligence was manipulated to justify going to war with Iraq.
    Among the allegations:
    U.S. officials cited documents provided by foreign ambassadors - documents that they knew to be forgeries - as proof of the existence of an Iraqi nuclear weapons program.
    Aluminum tubes and gas centrifuges that President Bush said were used to "enrich uranium for nuclear weapons" had already been determined by the CIA to be ordinary rocket materials too flimsy to handle nuclear material.
    Claims by the administration that Iraq had unmanned aerial vehicles capable of delivering deadly biological agents around the world to the U.S. were known to be false; analysts estimated they didn't have the range even to reach Tel Aviv.
    Vice President Dick Cheney had visited CIA headquarters several times in the months before the war to pressure analysts to find evidence that would justify an attack on Iraq.
    And evidence that there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda was deliberately withheld from Congress and the public in an attempt to mislead everyone about the danger Iraq posed.
    Several members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, including Democrats Bob Graham, D-Fla., and Richard Durbin, D-Ill., told The New Republic that they knew that evidence contradicting the Bush administration's claims had been concealed, but they were unable to reveal it because it was classified.
    Still, Congress, which spent $80 million to prove that, yes, Bill Clinton did have sexual relations with that woman, has yet to order an investigation.
    Rep. Diana DeGette claims to know why.
    "It's obvious. It's because the Republicans control Congress and the White House," the Colorado Democrat said.
    Last week, she called for a bipartisan investigation to determine if there was a "massive intelligence failure" leading up to the war in Iraq.
    Either there never was the irrefutable evidence of weapons of mass destruction and we were deceived, she said, or the deadly weapons exist in Iraq where Hussein is believed to be hiding and our intelligence is not capable of finding them.
    Regardless of which scenario Americans prefer to embrace, it's a troubling situation.
    We deserve an explanation.
    Before the war, DeGette said, "both (Secretary of State) Colin Powell and the president unequivocally said there were biological, chemical and possibly nuclear weapons that were poised to strike and that created an imminent threat."
    In fact, when Powell made his dramatic presentation of the purported evidence against Iraq to the United Nations in February, DeGette admitted that she found it disturbing.
    The congresswoman, who had voted against the resolution to go to war with Iraq, said Powell raised "very serious questions" about the danger Iraq posed.
    She had company. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo., called it "shocking."
    The public responded similarly.
    In the days following Powell's U.N. appearance, polls showed opposition to the pre-emptive war evaporating in the U.S.
    Seventy percent of Americans believed that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons. Sixty percent thought the country was developing nuclear weapons.
    "On that basis, we went out and attacked another country," DeGette said.
    It was the rationale we presented to the world for going to war.
    "Now, it's becoming more and more clear that evidence of those weapons never existed," DeGette said.
    And while it's unclear whether the intelligence was flawed, misinterpreted or simply manipulated to produce a predetermined outcome, DeGette said, it's clear something went wrong.
    "There's one thing the American public doesn't like," she said, "and that's being duped."
    If Congress succeeds in stonewalling an investigation, the damage to the intelligence agencies will be severe. Once their integrity is undermined, they become objects of contempt and ridicule.
    That's why DeGette predicts that despite her Republican colleagues' loyalty to Bush, Congress ultimately will vote for an investigation.
    "The public will demand it," she said.
    As the weeks and months go by, if evidence of weapons of mass destruction isn't found in Iraq, containing the scandal will be impossible, she said. The truth will have to emerge.
    "This is not about a political gotcha situation," DeGette said.
    "One reason people like me are trying to be respectful and not make this into a political issue is that it goes so much deeper than that. This goes to the integrity of our intelligence, the integrity of our foreign policy.
    "This is heavy-duty stuff."
  2. 2 Comments

  3. by   pickledpepperRN
    Truth or Consequences.
    The Fact That Hussein's Gone Doesn't Make Lying Right
    Robert Scheer

    June 24, 2003

    There was a time when the sickness of the political far left could best be defined by the rationale that the ends justified the means. Happily, support for revolutionary regimes claiming to advance the interests of their people through atrocious acts is now seen as an evil dead end by most on the left. Immoral and undemocratic means lead inevitably to immoral and undemocratic ends.

    Unfortunately, junior Machiavellis claiming to wear the white hat still are running amok among us. This time, however, they are on the right, apologists for the Bush administration arguing that noble ends justify deceitful means.

    With the administration's core rationale for invading Iraq-saving the world from Saddam Hussein's deadly arsenal-almost wholly discredited, the Republicans now want us to believe that any distortions of the truth should have been forgotten once we took Baghdad.

    As Newt Gingrich put it last week: "Does even the most left-wing Democrat want to defend the proposition that the world would be better off with Saddam in power?"

    The quick answer is that we don't know what the future holds for Iraq. Our track record of military interventions in the Middle East and elsewhere would lead any competent historian or Vegas bookie to conclude that a stable secular dictatorship is about the best outcome we can predict. But the larger, more frightening meaning of Gingrich's statement is that in order to rid the world of a tinhorn dictator who posed no credible threat to the United States, it was just dandy to lie to the people.

    It was OK to lie about the nonexistent evidence of ties between Hussein and Al Qaeda. It was OK to lie about the U.N. weapons inspectors, claiming they were suckered by Hussein. It was OK to lie, not only to Americans but to our allies in this war, about "intelligence" alleging that Iraq's military had chemical and biological weapons deployed in the field. Only it's not OK. Washington's verbal attack on the U.N. inspectors, for example, is of no small consequence, undermining global efforts to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation.

    Meanwhile, to justify a political faction's blunder we ignore core values upon which this country was built. The New York Times on Friday blithely referred to the use of "coercive" measures in interrogating former Iraqi scientists and officials. Apparently, protections in international treaties for political prisoners do not apply to us.

    Similarly, the indefensible gambit of preemptive war has seriously damaged two of this nation's most precious commodities-our democracy and the reputation of our form of government. By giving Congress distorted and incomplete intelligence on Iraq, the Bush administration mocks what is most significant in the U.S. model: the notion of separation of powers and the spirit of the Constitution's mandate that only Congress has the power to declare war.

    Is this an exaggeration? Consider that on Oct. 7, 2002, four days before Congress authorized the Iraq war, President Bush asserted that intelligence data proved Iraq had trained Al Qaeda "in bomb making and poisons and deadly gases." Yet no such proof existed. Never in modern times have we beheld a Congress so easily manipulated by the executive branch. Last week, the Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee caved in and dropped their opposition to closed hearings on whether Congress was lied to. How can they not be open to the public, which is expected under our system to hold the president and Congress accountable?

    To be sure, many Americans were never fooled, and many more have become upset at seeing continuing casualties and chaos in Iraq after Bush's pricey aircraft carrier photo op signaled that the war was over. But much of our public has been too easily conned. For contrast, consider that in Britain the citizens, Parliament and media have been far more seriously engaged in questioning the premises of their government's participation in the invasion of Iraq.

    This administration's behavior is an affront to the nation's founders and the system of governance they crafted. It is sad that we now have a president who acts like a king and a Congress that is his pawn.
  4. by   pickledpepperRN
    Published on Monday, June 30, 2003 by the Guardian/UK

    Bush and Blair Promised Justice in Iraq. Another Lie.
    Tariq Aziz and Other Iraqi Leaders Must be Put on Trial or Released

    by Mark Seddon

    Ziad Tariq Aziz showed me the only evidence that his father, the veteran Iraqi deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, was still alive: a hastily written note from him, sent courtesy of the Red Cross in Baghdad. Bearing the Red Cross imprimatur and Aziz's Red Cross number - IQZ00001101- the note itself is only two sentences long, ending "I am well and thinking of you, Tariq". Across the envelope, the Red Cross has stamped the words "safe and well". Tariq Aziz turned himself over to the American military shortly after the fall of the capital. He hadn't rated that highly on Donald Rumsfeld's pack of cards. The only high-level Christian in Saddam's regime, Aziz may have been one of its public faces, yet it was clear that he was an increasingly isolated figure in the Ba'athist hierarchy. But, unlike the renowned Iraqi information minister, Mohammed Saeed al Sahhaf - who was interrogated and then quickly released - Aziz is now apparently being held without trial in a broiling, dusty compound at what was once Saddam international airport. Along with many fellow Iraqi political leaders and others swept up in the American dragnet, there seem to be no plans either to put him on trial or to release him.
    His wife Zureida and his two sons are staying in a hotel in Amman, Jordan. A few blocks away there is a lively trade in documents purporting to come from various former ministries in Baghdad. "My cousin went into one ministry and found some government stamps just lying there," a Jordanian tells me in the hotel lobby; forging documents which implicate people in the crimes of Saddam's regime "is an easy way to make some money", he says.
    In this postwar reality of claim, counter-claim and corruption, "justice" is arbitrary - and made more so by the chaos in Iraq itself. The country smolders into guerrilla warfare, and Baghdad remains a looted, threatening place where the new "provisional coalition authority" can't even get the lights to work. And yet "coalition" leaders show little sign of acknowledging the occupation's spectacular failures or the scale of opposition to it in Iraq and around the world. In a interview yesterday the head of the US administration in Iraq, Paul Bremer, asserted that: "We dominate the scene and we will ... impose our will on this country."
    In such a climate, the Aziz family's campaign on behalf of their father is by necessity low-key. His sons are anxious not to upset the Jordanian authorities and extremely loath to court publicity. Their question is a simple one - "Why is Tariq Aziz being held without trial?"
    Their defense of their father - that he had only been "following orders" as a senior official in the former Iraqi regime - would scarcely meet the standard set by the Nuremberg trials, nor that of the new international criminal court. But under American policy it seems unlikely that it will even get a hearing. The US has refused to sign up to the international court. In stead, it would seem, it intends to hold people in detention indefinitely, just as it is doing in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, at Bagram in Afghanistan and, it is persistently claimed, on the British-owned island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. Such an affront to "justice" lacks even the most basic transparency - no one even knows how many Iraqi PoWs and other detainees are being held, just as no one knows whether any Iraqis have been sent to Guantanamo Bay. Despite repeated representations to US diplomats, Ziad Aziz told me that all enquiries had led only to that hastily scrawled note.
    Last week, Jack Straw wrote in the Financial Times deploring the house arrest of the Burmese opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. He was right to do so. Nor can any direct comparison be made between a democratic opposition leader and a former minister of a dictatorship, who will have known of the large-scale human rights abuses committed under Saddam's rule. But the fact remains that Mr Aziz and many others face indefinite imprisonment without trial, in the wake of a war that, according to the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, broke the UN charter and was, in the opinion of most international lawyers, illegal. That, too, cannot be tolerated in democratic states which claim to uphold the rule of law.
    The London-based barrister Abdul Haq al-Ani certainly believes so. I met him as he prepared to journey into the lawless badlands of the western Iraqi desert. Mr Ani has a touching faith in British justice. Not only was he planning to contact the Red Cross and the occupation authorities in order to give Tariq Aziz legal advice in accordance with the Geneva convention and the Human Rights Act, but he was also determined to gather evidence for criminal proceedings against US and British officials for their actions in Iraq. Mr Ani told me that if he were refused access to Aziz he would return to Britain and issue a writ for habeas corpus on the defense minister, Geoff Hoon.
    This would be an interesting irony. Britain is the joint occupying power in Iraq; it is also a signatory to the international court and has instituted a human rights act. The British government has been proactive in hunting down those accused of war crimes in the former Yugoslavia, and even - albeit briefly - the former Chilean dictator, General Pinochet. So how will Hoon justify British behavior in Iraq?
    Last year I went to Baghdad and interviewed Tariq Aziz in the now bombed-out foreign ministry. I told him that Tony Blair was not saber-rattling; that he would use force if Iraq failed to allow UN weapons inspectors back in. "We have no weapons of mass destruction", Aziz insisted. "Tell Mr Blair that he can send anyone to Iraq to see for themselves." In common with many others, I was, then, more inclined to believe Blair rather than Aziz.
    And so the one-time face of the Saddam regime now languishes in a Baghdad airport compound, a victim of victors' revenge. Few Iraqis could expect much in the way of justice under the old regime, but since one of the pretexts for the war was a promise to bring justice to the benighted people of that country, Bush and Blair may soon be fingered for telling yet another lie.
    Perhaps the Aziz family should not worry too much. Their father has been around long enough to have dealt with many of those, such as Donald Rumsfeld, who were only too happy to sell Iraq weapons of mass destruction when it suited them. And their father knows where the proverbial bodies are buried. It should be up to independent courts to decide whether he and other Iraqi officials know about real bodies - not US military tribunals or occupation courts, but either the international court itself or courts constituted by a democratic Iraq, free of foreign occupation. And meanwhile it is also for the courts to decide whether he is being held illegally - and whether Blair ordered an illegal war, a war that is far from over.
    * Mark Seddon is editor of Tribune and a member of Labour's national executive committee.