Monday, August 11, 2003

A loss of trust

The Washington Post is continuing to wipe the floor with the New York Times with the story about how the Bush team misled the nation about the "imminent threat" posed by Saddam Hussein.

This weekend they ran a major story detailing how the Bush administration's depiction of the Iraqi threat outgrew the supporting evidence.

Josh Marshall picks out this key graph from the story:

"The new information indicates a pattern in which President Bush, Vice President Cheney and their subordinates -- in public and behind the scenes -- made allegations depicting Iraq's nuclear weapons program as more active, more certain and more imminent in its threat than the data they had would support. On occasion administration advocates withheld evidence that did not conform to their views. The White House seldom corrected misstatements or acknowledged loss of confidence in information upon which it had previously relied ..."

And here is another piece that ran over the weekend from the AP in which they take a point-by-point reassessment of the allegations and "evidence" that Colin Powell presented to the nation prior to the war:

"It was the most comprehensive presentation of the U.S. case for war. Powell marshaled what were described as intercepted Iraqi conversations, reconnaissance photos of Iraqi sites, accounts of defectors, and other intelligence sources.

"Powell's sober speech was galvanizing, swinging opinion toward war. "Compelling," "powerful," "irrefutable" were adjectives used by both pundits and opposition Democratic politicians. Editor & Publisher magazine found prowar sentiment among editorial writers doubled overnight, to three-quarters of large U.S. newspapers. Powell's "thick intelligence file," as he called it, had won them over.

"Six months after that Feb. 5 appearance, the file does look thin. "

I lost my faith in the Reagan administration back in the mid-80s after I listened to Reagan go on television and lie about the size and extent of the weapons we had covertly shipped to Iran. I had voted for Reagan in 1984, the first year I was old enough to vote, and the realization that the president was either being so dishonest or was so grossly misinformed forced me to reassess a lot of my preconceptions at the time.

By my reckoning, the massive amount of deception that went into pulling our nation into a pre-emptive invasion of Iraq is far worse than Iran-Contra ever was. So I am just as mystified today as I was back then that so many people are willing to forgive, excuse or ignore these deceptions while they continue to back the current administration without hesitation.

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