Tuesday, April 18, 2006
This is It.

Many of us have felt for years that the President was as the very least exaggerating how much of a threat Iraq was. Sure Saddam might have wanted a nuclear bomb to drop on Tehran, or Tel Aviv or Toledo, but many of us simply did not believe that he had the weapons of mass destruction, or that he was on the verge of producing them.

So in order to quell us skeptics the President stood up in front of the world in his State of the Union address on January 28, 2003 and said that the CIA believed that Iraq was trying to obtain yellowcake uranium from Niger. It was a key claim that helped the American people support the war; the claim was reinforced by Dick Cheney and crew making the rounds of news shows saying, “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud over an American city.”

For months, more and more information has come out that has confirmed that these original claims were based on forged documents that were passed on to the U.S. through an Italian intelligence agency. But it has never been completely known who forged the documents, why they were forged, or when the CIA/NSA/State Department knew that the documents were fakes. The claim has been that everyone thought the Iraq-Niger claim was legit when it made its way into the State of the Union.

Here is the memo that proves that the President was lying.

A recently declassified State Department memo, obtained by the New York Sun, and published by TruthOut plainly states:

“On January 12, 2003, INR [the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research] expressed concerns to the CIA that the documents pertaining to the Iraq-Niger deal were forgeries. The conclusion may, however, have been reached and communicated for the first time somewhat earlier…”

It’s simple:

January 12, 2003----The CIA is told the documents are fake and that Iraq is not trying to obtain Uranium from anyone.

January 28, 2003----Bush speaks it as truth in his State of the Union address.

Best case scenario: This is just another example of the dangerous incompetence of this administration. Even in a post-terror attack world it still takes months for vital memos to make their way from the CIA to the President (even though the President met with the CIA director every day).

Worst case scenario (and frankly most likely): This is definitive proof that they were not only manipulating intelligence, but were deliberately lying to us the whole time.

The Hitchens Factor

For those of us who proudly and vociferously call out "Liberal!" when asked of our political affiliations, the Bush Adminstration's reasons for going into Iraq, mishandling of the entire rebuilding process, cavalier way of shrugging off all criticism or good sense, and impetuous self-assurance that they are just in their decisions and lies is completely immoral and execrable.

I myself am of this type and concur with every single thing the author of this blog has ever said about politics (props rsantos!)

However, there are some very strong and intellectually rigorous minds who have decided that Bush was correct to invade Iraq. Christopher Hitchens is one of these.

Although he has not touched on his support of the war recently in the pages of the Atlantic Monthly, where he writes a book review column every month, he has finally used this space to strongly defend his view that Iraq needed invading in a bad way. His book review of Peter Beinart's "The Good Fight: Why Liberals--and only Liberals--can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again" in the May 2006 issue re-establishes his reasons for supporting the war. Titled "Blood for No Oil!" Hitchens lets loose on liberal optimism and states strongly and with real anger (he has always been an angry writer) why liberals cannot win the war on terror.

I certainly do not agree with his conclusions, but when taking his reasons into fair consideration I must stop, think, and think so more. More than anything the Bush Administration touts, we must read and understand and rebutt Hitchens' arguments because they are the strongest case for the ideas that repulse us.

Repulsion is visceral by nature, but reason is ultimately what will allow us to win the day. Reason that is full of righteousness based upon fact, that is full of passion for what we know is right, that is full of anger for what we know is wrong. But reason nonetheless.

Bush's arguments are straw man arguments, easy to rebutt (perhaps the idiosy of their reason is what makes it swallowable for so many). But we can only become stronger by fairly confronting the best and most thoughtful of our political and intellectual rivals.

This is why we must read Hitchens seriously.
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