Thursday, November 17

Bush in a dive... Kerry punches back.

CLICK for detailsCrossposted on Dailykos:

Why are the Republicans and the President so angry and desperate in their most recent set of attacks on the Democrats?

Could it be the President horrible poll numbers?

CNN/USA Today/Gallup11/11-13/0537% Favorable

Dick Cheney, the American vice-president, has dismissed criticism of the Bush administration's use of intelligence in the build up to the Iraq war as "dishonest and reprehensible".

Dick Cheney
Mr Cheney accused opponents of lacking 'backbone'

Democrats have exploited rising anti-war feeling in the US in recent weeks and accused the administration of manipulating intelligence to justify the war and leaking classified information to discredit critics.

But the White House has launched an aggressive counter-attack, accusing Democrats - many of whom voted in favour of the invasion in 2002 - of "rewriting history".

Mr Cheney called Democrats "opportunists" who were peddling "cynical and pernicious falsehoods" to gain political advantage while American soldiers died in Iraq.

"The president and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone - but we're not going to sit by and let them rewrite history," he said.

President George W Bush, whose public approval ratings have dropped to the lowest point of his presidency, has given two speeches in the last five days attacking Democratic critics.

At a news conference in South Korea he backed his vice-president, one of the a principal architects of the war, and accused Democrats of irresponsibility.

Iraq factfile

"What bothers me is when people are irresponsibly using their positions and playing politics. That's exactly what is taking place in America," he said.

John Kerry Responds to the President:

The President even used the solemn occasion of Veterans Day to continue his campaign of misrepresenting the facts and throwing up smokescreens. His statement that Democrats saw and heard the same intelligence he did is just flat out untrue - unless of course the President and his Administration didn’t do their job and study the additional intelligence given only to them and not the Congress. As the Washington Post put it on Saturday, ‘Bush and his aides had access to much more voluminous intelligence information than lawmakers, who were dependent on the administration to provide the material.’

“But that whole discussion is nothing more than an effort to distract attention from the issue that matters most and can be answered simply: did the Administration go beyond what even the flawed intelligence would support in making the case for war? Did they use obviously inaccurate intelligence despite being told clearly and repeatedly not to? Did they use the claims of known fabricators? The answer in each case is yes. And the only people who are trying to rewrite that history are the President and his Republican allies.

“There is no greater breach of the public trust than knowingly misleading the country into war. In a democracy, we simply cannot tolerate the abuse of this trust by the government. To the extent this occurred in the lead up to the war in Iraq, those responsible must be held accountable. That is why Democrats have been pushing the Senate Intelligence Committee to complete a thorough and balanced investigation into the issue.

“When the President tried to pretend on Friday that the Intelligence Committee had already determined that he had not manipulated intelligence and misled the American public, he knew full well that they have not yet reported on that very question -- that is why Democrats were forced to shut down the Senate and go into closed session to make the Republicans take this issue seriously. When the President said that his opponents were throwing out false charges, he knew all too well that that these charges are anything but false.

“But the President and Republicans seem far more interested in confusing the issue and attacking their opponents than getting honest answers. Let’s be clear: there is no question that Americans were misled into war in Iraq. Simply put, they were told that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction when he did not. The issue is whether they were misled intentionally. Just as there is a distinction between being wrong and being dishonest, there is a fundamental difference between relying on incorrect intelligence and making statements that you know are not supported by the intelligence.

“The bottom line is that the President and his Administration did mislead America into war. In fact, the war in Iraq was and remains one of the great acts of misleading and deception in American history. The facts are incontrovertible. The act of misleading was pretending to Americans that they hadn’t made a decision to go to war, and would seriously pursue inspections when the evidence strongly suggests that they had already decided to take out Saddam Hussein, were anxious to do it for ideological reasons, and hoped that inspections, which Vice President Cheney had opposed and tried to prevent, would not get in their way.

“The President misled America about his intentions and the manner in which he would make his decision. We now know his speech in Cincinnati right before the authorization vote was carefully orchestrated window dressing where again he misled America by promising that “If we have to act, we will take every precaution that is possible. We will plan carefully.” He did none of these things.

“The act of misleading was just going through the motions of inspections while it appears he really couldn’t wait to just kick Saddam Hussein out of power.

“The act of misleading was pretending to Americans the real concern was weapons of mass destruction when the evidence suggests that his real intent was to finish the job his father wisely refused and remove Saddam Hussein to “remake the Middle East”.

The act of misleading was saying in his Cincinnati speech that “Approving this resolution does not mean that military action is imminent or unavoidable” when the evidence suggests that all along the goal was always to replace Saddam Hussein through an invasion. For most of us in Congress, the goal was to destroy weapons of mass destruction. For President Bush, weapons of mass destruction were just the first public relations means to the end of removing Saddam Hussein. For most of the rest of us, removing Saddam Hussein was incidental to the end of removing any weapons of mass destruction.

In fact, the President was misleading America right up until two days before launching his war of choice when he told Americans we had exhausted all other avenues. The truth is that on the Sunday preceding the Tuesday launch of the war, there were offers [to] Security Council members to pursue an alternative to war, but the Administration, in its race to go to war, rebuffed them, saying “the time for diplomacy is over.”

“By shortcutting the inspections process and sidestepping his own promises about planning, coalition building, and patience, the President used WMD as an excuse to rush to war. That was an act of misleading contrary to everything the President told Americans about the walkup to war.

The very worst that Members of Congress can be accused of is trusting the intelligence we were selectively given by this Administration, and taking the President at his word. But unlike this Administration, there is absolutely no suggestion that we intentionally went beyond what we were told were the facts. That is the greatest offense by the Administration. Just look at their most compelling justification for war: Saddam’s nuclear program and his connections with Al Qaeda.

“The facts speak for themselves. The White House has admitted that the President told Congress and the American public in the State of the Union Address that Saddam was attempting to acquire fuel for nuclear weapons despite the fact that the CIA specifically told the Administration three times, in writing and verbally, not to use this intelligence. Obviously, Democrats didn’t get that memo. In fact, similar statements were removed from a prior speech by the President, and Colin Powell refused to use it in his presentation to the UN. This is not relying on faulty intelligence, as Democrats did; it is knowingly, and admittedly, misleading the American public on a key justification for going to war.

This is what the Administration was trying so desperately to hide when it attacked Ambassador Wilson and compromised national security by outing his wife. It is shameful that to this day Republicans continue to attack Ambassador Wilson rather than condemning the fact that those sixteen words were ever spoken, and that so many lies were told to cover it up. How are the same Republicans who tried to impeach a President over whether he misled a nation about an affair going to pretend it does not matter if the Administration intentionally misled the country into war?

“The State of the Union was hardly an isolated event. In fact, it was part of a concerted campaign to twist the intelligence to justify a war they had already decided to fight. Again playing on people’s fears after 9/11, the Administration made statements about the relationship between Al Qaeda and Iraq that went beyond that what the intelligence supported. As recently reported by the New York Times, in a Cincinnati address the President said “we’ve learned that Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases” despite the fact that the Defense Intelligence Agency had previously concluded that that source was a fabricator.

The President went on to say that ‘Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons’ despite the fact that the Air Force disagreed with that conclusion. As the Wall Street Journal reported, ‘the Air Force dissent…was kept secret even as the President publicly made the opposite case…before a congressional vote on the war resolution.’ That’s two more memos that Congress never got.

“In fact, when faced with the intelligence community’s consensus conclusion that there was no formal relationship between Saddam and Al Qaeda, the Administration set up their own intelligence shop at DoD to get them some answers better suited to their agenda. Again, there is a fundamental difference between believing incorrect intelligence and making up your own intelligence.

“Where would Republicans and the President draw the line? No where. How else would 70% of the American public be lead to conclude that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11? This was no accident. In fact, I had to correct the President in the first debate when he said it was Saddam Hussein who attacked us. Why else did Vice President Cheney cite intelligence about a meeting between one of the 9/11 hijackers and Iraqis that the intelligence community and the 9/11 Commission concluded never took place? Why else make false statements about Saddam’s ability to launch a chemical or biological weapons attack in under an hour without clearing that with the CIA - which mistrusted the source and refused to include it in the NIE? Why else would they say we would be greeted by liberators when their own intelligence reports said we could be facing a prolonged and determined insurgency? Why else tell Americans that Iraqi oil would pay for the invasion when they had to know that the dilapidated oil infrastructure would never allow that?


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