Curious Case of the Lost Lemurs
By Weldon Berger
you guys really have lemurs at home?"
The father of a little girl whom my just-turned-seven-year-old
daughter has befriended at our neighborhood park approached
me with that question a few days ago when I arrived to fetch
my kid, who had managed to convince this guy - all on her
own, with no CIA or credulous media outlets to back her up
- that she had adopted two of Zaboomafoo's unemployed siblings
and kept them in her bedroom in our Honolulu condo.
"I wasn't sure at first," he said, "but she seemed to know
so much about them ..." The incident went a long way toward
clarifying for me why so many people were sucked in by the
administration's repeated misrepresentations regarding the
threats posed by Iraq's nuclear weapons and al Qaeda connections.
They didn't exist, but the administration seemed to know
so much about them.
Where the analogy falters is that the guy believed me when
I told him we didn't have any lemurs. His head didn't begin
spinning about, Linda Blair-like, in an effort to avoid hearing
or seeing anything that might interfere with his existing
understanding of the lemur situation.
He didn't point out that the Honolulu Zoo, just a few short
blocks from the park, had lemurs, very active lemurs who might
easily have leapt the moat into my daughter's arms to be smuggled
out beneath her trench coat.
He didn't suggest that perhaps there in fact are
lemurs in my daughter's bedroom but I just haven't found them
Tthose are the sorts of gymnastics, though, in the face
of evidence that is about to become indisputable, that Bush
partisans engage in with regard to the suggestion that the
administration made claims about Iraq that it knew in at least
one case to be untrue and in others, to be wildly exaggerated.
When an as-yet-unnamed former U.S. ambassador - my guess
is it'll turn out to be Joseph
C. Wilson, IV - traveled to Niger in March of 2002 to
investigate claims that Iraq was attempting to purchase up
to 500 tons of uranium from the African country, he did so
on behalf of the CIA, which acted at the request of Dick Cheney.
When President Bush referred in his 2003 State of the Union
address to intelligence indicating that Iraq had attempted
to acquire large quantities of uranium from an African country,
he was referring to the Iraq-Niger connection that had been
discredited nine months earlier as a result of the investigation
undertaken by the CIA at the request of the vice president.
When Condoleeza Rice said recently that "maybe someone knew
down in the bowels of the agency - but no one in our circles
knew that there were doubts and suspicions that this might
be a forgery," "it" was the Niger-Iraq connection that the
investigation undertaken by the CIA at the request of the
vice president's office had discredited early last year, and
"our circles" were the intelligence mavens in the White House,
the National Security Council and the vice president's office.
It's possible, I suppose, that the administration is telling
the truth, and that they're not dishonest but only hopelessly
That would go a long way toward explaining why there was
no plan in place to secure the nuclear materials we knew
existed: the tons of uranium and radioactive isotopes under
IAEA seal at Tuwaitha, the former nuclear research facility
It could explain why the scientist who recently turned over
pieces of a uranium enrichment centrifuge that had lain buried
in his garden for twelve years had to resort to hanging around
the Palestine Hotel and begging journalists to put him in
touch with former UN weapons inspector David Albright because
he couldn't get any U.S. military officials to pay attention
And it could explain why the military kicked in the man's
door and arrested him several days after he turned
over the gear and its accompanying documents to the military.
(He was released a short time later with an apology.)
The evidence, though, strongly suggests that the administration
is hopelessly incompetent and dishonest.
And that's why, until some clever soul invents an unbreakable
rhetorical neck brace, we're screwed. Half the public is so
engrossed in practicing the mechanics of cranial rotation
that the obvious is invisible.
The press is either similarly involved or too polite to
mention the obvious.
Congress - including, sadly, much of the loyal opposition
- has its collective head buried so far up its collective
nether region that it hasn't even gotten to the Exorcist
portion of the program yet.
We're about to be subjected to a $300 million advertising
blitz aimed at persuading voters that learning to spin their
heads around like tops is not only normal, but the only patriotic
thing to do.
We're lucky, though, in one sense: imagine what the administration
could do were they as persuasive as a seven-year-old.
Weldon Berger is a freelance writer lving in Hawaii, which
as far from Washington, D.C., as it is possible to get while
still remaining in the U.S. He can be reached by email at: