Sunday, November 27, 2005


Back before my son got sick, I posted that now I believe Bush and co. did lie about WMD intelligence. So, the next question is - do we impeach?

There are two ways Bush and co. could have lied. The first is to the public, and I don't think anyone who is honest can say they didn't. Information that was sketchy and incomplete and badly sourced and weak was presented in speeches and claims in public as solid, undenied fact. See nuclear capability, aluminum tubes, Atta meeting in Prague, links to al-Qaeda, and many more. In their P.R. campaign for war, the truth was rarely to be found. They did lie often - an exaggeration is still a lie.

The second way is a combination of pressure on intelligence agencies to come up with the "right facts" and selectively giving information out to Congress - the ultimate deciders of war declarations - to make their case more presentable. As of now, and contrary to the claims of both sides, we don't know if this was done. Bob Graham, in his editorial, says that the information had to be demanded from Tenet and when presented, revealed much more ambiguity and unsureness than admitted before. But the information was there - just unasked for by the White House for whatever reasons. (Graham also gives fairly convincing proof of the lies to the public, showing a vast disconnect between what he saw and what was shown to the public.)

The first lie is P.R., and it's especially reprehensible when used to justify a war. However, all Presidents lie when they're selling something they want done, and they lie the same way Bush and co. did - they minimize the problems, maximize the benefits, shrink the time needed for success and distort the cost. Bush and co. should be held accountable for this, and all their attempts to slither out of responsibility for their pre-war claims should be nailed. But I don't think it's an impeachable offense. The fact it was used for something so huge as the Iraqi war should always be remembered, but I don't think this can be used to impeach.

The second case could, though. If the Bush Admin. was forcing analysts to come up with information it wanted, or if they willingly lied to Congress about the intelligence, that would count. There's a vast difference between selling the points, and making up the points. This would, in my opinion, be an impeachable offense.

Now, did the Bush Admin. either force analysts or lie to Congress? Again, no one knows. The Silbermann-Robb Commission didn't look at this question at all - it wasn't in their charter. Claiming that since they found no evidence of intelligence manipulation Bush is innocent, as some on the right are, is like saying since Starr didn't find evidence of Clinton selling arms to China, Clinton's innocent there. Not quite. Simply put, this question hasn't even been looked at yet. And the way the Republicans and the White House are dragging their feet over it, it's a question whether or not it ever will be.

So as of now, I don't think there should be impeachment charges. I do think they should pay a price, but not before Congress.

(*) - from Andrew Sullivan, I found this piece, which may make impeachement charges more possible, given the fact that these PDB's refuting links between Iraq and al-Qaeda were never shown to Congress. I don't recall if that claim was made before Congress in justifaction of the war. If it was, here's some evidence of a lie.

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