Most Tenuous of Justifications
By Kevin Raybould
The latest right wing spin is that the assertion regarding
the nonexistent Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa
in the State of the Union was not a lie, because Bush said
it was based upon British intelligence, and that the British
are standing by their intelligence.
I am sorry, but there is no other word. First, and this should
not have to be continually pointed out, but apparently it
must, Bush did not qualify the British statement - he presented
it as a fact, as something the British had "learned". There
is absolutely no way to read that sentence as anything other
than an assertion of fact.
So? Wasn't Bush just reporting what our allies the British
had told him? No, no he was not. According to Tenet himself,
the CIA had told the Administration that the evidence for
that British assertion was not acceptable. The Administration
knew that what the British had "learned" was resting on information
that the Administration knew did not prove what the British
said it proved.
So? Aren't the British still backing their intelligence?
Yes,but only with information that they are not even willing
to show to American intelligence agencies. That hardly constitutes
proof of anything. Look at it this way. I have two friends,
Tony and Mike. One day, Tony comes to me and says "There are
aliens invading! Look out the window!" So, I look out the
window, and there are no aliens. "Here, use these binoculars
- they are off in the distance." Tony hands me the binoculars,
and, lo and behold, there are small alien ships in the distance.
Just then, Mike walks him, and I show him what the binoculars
showed me. Mike lowers the binoculars, stares out the window,
and then turns the binoculars around, looking at the lenses.
"Dude," he says, "someone has drawn tiny, little spaceships
on the lenses. In crayon." So I ask Tony. Tony admits that
the binoculars do, indeed, have tiny, little spaceships drawn
on the lenses, in crayon. But, he says "I have other information
that proves that aliens are actually attacking."
"What evidence?" Mike asks.
"Well," Tony says, "I cannot show you, its secret. But we
are friends - you trust me." And, based on that. I run out
and tell the world that Tony has learned that aliens are invading.
How, exactly, am I not responsible for the panic that ensues?
And this is what so infuriates me about this line of defense.
It hides behind the most tenuous of justifications, and, in
doing so, winks at the notion that the ends justify the means.
In a democracy, the ends never, ever justify the means. Never.
As we speak, men and women are being killed and maimed because
Bush invaded Iraq - and Bush got support for invading Iraq
largely because he convinced the American people that Saddam
was a threat to them, not because he was a threat to the Iraqi
people. The majority of the State of the Union that contained
the nuclear assertion, in fact, when it spoke of Iraq, spoke
of Iraq as a threat to world peace. There are many who think
invading Iraq was worthwhile, on humanitarian grounds. It
is a defensible position, but it is not the primary argument
that Bush made in the run up to the war. Anyone who turns
a blind eye to the obvious manipulation of the public by the
Bush Administration because they support the war on other
grounds is doing damage to democracy.
People are dying because we went to war. Oppose it or support
it, that is the simple fact. No one should commit the United
States to such a course on false pretenses. It does not matter
if the ends are ends you would support. If you ignore deception
of this magnitude on one issue, then you are approving it
on any other issue. You are saying that it is acceptable for
saying that the president can use whatever arguments he wants
to gets whatever ends he and he alone decides are appropriate.
You are saying that you do not believe in democracy.
Well, I do. I believe in it with all my heart and soul and
mind. I believe in it the way other believe there is no God
but Allah, or that Christ will rise again. This kind of deception
strikes right at the heart of democracy, and dismissing or
minimizing it drives the knife in deeper. I have no patience
for "it was only sixteen words" or "it was technically true".
They were 16 words that the Administration knew were based
on extraordinarily weak evidence. They were sixteen words
that the Administration used to help convince Americans that
Iraq was an immediate threat. They were sixteen damn important
words. To pretend otherwise, to make excuse, to minimize their
importance is to not care because you got the war you wanted
anyway is cease to be a believer in democracy. It is to cease
being a citizen and start being a subject.
I will not accept being a subject, and I have no patience
for those who would. Even if you are a supporter of the war,
you cannot be a supporter of intentional deception, or even
lax standards of proof, in order to get your war. Once you
start down that path, once you start to exempt your leaders
from accountability and the democratic process, you start
to lose your claim on ownership of your government. You become
a spectator, not a participant. No one should willingly choose
to become a spectator.