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President Bush lied to the world about Iraq and Saddam’s WMD’s.

By BOB HERBERT
Back in March 2004 President Bush had a great time displaying what he felt was a
hilarious set of photos showing him searching the Oval Office for the weapons of mass
destruction that hadn’t been found in Iraq. It was a spoof he performed at the annual
dinner of the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association.

The photos showed the president peering behind curtains and looking under furniture for
the missing weapons. Mr. Bush offered mock captions for the photos, saying, “Those
weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere” and “Nope, no weapons over there
... maybe under here?”

If there’s something funny about Mr. Bush’s misbegotten war, I’ve yet to see it. The
president deliberately led Americans traumatized by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, into
the false belief that there was a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda, and that a
pre-emptive invasion would make the United States less vulnerable to terrorism.

Close to 600 Americans had already died in Iraq when Mr. Bush was cracking up the
audience with his tasteless photos at the glittering Washington gathering. The toll of
Americans has now passed 1,750. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have died. Scores of
thousands of men, women and children have been horribly wounded. And there is no end in
sight.

Last week’s terror bombings in London should be seen as a reminder not just that Mr.
Bush’s war was a hideous diversion of focus and resources from the essential battle
against terror, but that it has actually increased the danger of terrorist attacks
against the U.S. and its allies.

The C.I.A. warned the administration in a classified report in May that Iraq - since
the American invasion in 2003 - had become a training ground in which novice terrorists
were schooled in assassinations, kidnappings, car bombings and other terror techniques.
The report said Iraq could prove to be more effective than Afghanistan in the early
days of Al Qaeda as a place to train terrorists who could then disperse to other parts
of the world, including the United States.

Larry Johnson, a former C.I.A. analyst who served as deputy director of the State
Department’s counterterrorism office, said on National Public Radio last week: “You now
in Iraq have a recruiting ground in which jihadists, people who previously were not
willing to go out and embrace the vision of bin Laden and Al Qaeda, are now aligning
themselves with elements that have declared allegiance to him. And in the course of
that, they’re learning how to build bombs. They’re learning how to conduct military
operations.”

Has the president given any thought to leveling with the American people about how bad
the situation has become? And is he even considering what for him would be the radical
notion of soliciting the counsel of wise men and women who might give him a different
perspective on war and terror than the Kool-Aid-drinking true believers who have
brought us to this dreadful state of affairs? The true believers continue to argue that
the proper strategy is to stay the current catastrophic course.

Americans are paying a fearful price for Mr. Bush’s adventure in Iraq. In addition to
the toll of dead and wounded, the war is costing about $5 billion a month. It has
drained resources from critical needs here at home, including important antiterror
initiatives that would improve the security of ports, transit systems and chemical
plants.

The war has diminished the stature and weakened the credibility of the United Sates
around the world. And it has delivered a body blow to the readiness of America’s armed
forces. Much of the military is now overdeployed, undertrained and overworked. Many of
the troops are serving multiple tours in Iraq. No wonder potential recruits are staying
away in droves.

Whatever one’s views on the war, thoughtful Americans need to consider the damage it is
doing to the United States, and the bitter anger that it has provoked among Muslims
around the world. That anger is spreading like an unchecked fire in an incredibly vast
field.

The immediate challenge to President Bush is to dispense with the destructive fantasies
of the true believers in his administration and to begin to see America’s current
predicament clearly. New voices with new approaches and new ideas need to be heard. The
hole we’re in is deep enough. We need to stop digging.

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Posted by Bigotry in America on 07/18 at 07:43 AM in Politics

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