those of you who are excited about the Libby indictment,
and think you can’t imagine another politician who would
knowingly mislead you into war, here’s a little perspective
on this whole WMD thing:
revealed in the New York Times on Halloween, a National
Security Agency historian discovered in 2001 that “critical
intelligence” surrounding the famed 1964 Gulf of Tonkin
incident, which started the Vietnam War, was “deliberately
distorted” by NSA officers. (Scott Shane, “Vietnam Study,
Casting Doubts, Remains Secret”)
historian, Robert Hanyok, concludes “that communications
intercepted by the N.S.A… were falsified so that they made
it look as if North Vietnam had attacked American destroyers
on Aug. 4, 1964, two days after a previous clash. President
Lyndon B. Johnson cited the supposed attack to persuade
Congress to authorize broad military action in Vietnam,
but most historians have concluded in recent years that
there was no second attack.”
distortions include the deliberate mistranslation of communications
intercepts, the original Vietnamese transcripts of which
are inexplicably missing.
why has it taken so long for this information to reach us?
in 2002 [Hanyok] and other government historians argued
that it should be made public. But their effort was rebuffed
by higher-level agency policymakers, who by the next year
were fearful that it might prompt uncomfortable comparisons
with the flawed intelligence used to justify the war in
we couldn’t be told, because we might figure out that the
falsification of evidence for war is not something new,
but a recurring pattern, and then we might be angry about
nobody really wants to know. America’s been in denial
about Tonkin since it happened. It’s just too horrible to
consider that the deaths of 58,000 Americans and a million
Vietnamese could be the result of some mid-level screw-up
attempting to cover his ass (talk about a bad day at the
office). At least that’s the theory; Hanyok concluded “that
they had done it not out of any political motive but to
cover up earlier errors, and that top N.S.A. and defense
officials and Johnson neither knew about nor condoned the
deception.” So sayeth the NYT, but I’m having a little
trouble buying that.
any rate, somebody faked the intelligence on the Tonkin
Gulf, and then congress authorized the President to go to
war. Thousands dead, and an unwinnable, untenable occupation.
about the first Gulf War? Then we were treated to
a fake congressional hearing, set up by a PR firm called
Hill & Knowlton, in which the Kuwaiti ambassador’s 15-year-old
daughter played an anonymous witness to an unimaginable
atrocity – over 300 Kuwaiti infants ripped out of hospital
incubators by Iraqi soldiers. It never happened, but that
just didn’t matter. Bush the elder condemned the act. The
incident was referred to specifically by seven congressmen
when debating the resolution to invade Iraq, and the bill
passed by 5 votes.
wasn’t the first time we’d been misled into war either.
When the U.S. battleship the Maine exploded in 1898,
an investigation revealed no culprit, but newspaper tycoon
William Randolph Hearst spread the dubious story that the
Spanish were to blame, despite the fact that nearby Spanish
sailors had rescued the Maine’s survivors. Other
yellow journalists followed suit, providing false depictions
of Spanish atrocities—even cannibalism—and pictures depicting
the alleged sabotage of the Maine. Soon enough, there
was another war based on a fabrication.
fact, this whole debacle involving intelligence manipulation
designed to garner public support for war in Iraq is just
another in a series of similar instances. The only thing
astounding or shocking about it is that anyone would be
surprised at this point. It’s just how you get war done,
when there’s really no public need for it.
fact, in light of all of this history, this kind of deception
should be the very first thing the press would look for.
Instead, they hang on the words of a special prosecutor,
waiting to hear the parts of the story they already know,
so they can finally report them. What the hell does any
of it mean?
you hear another politician or commentator say that “we
were all fooled” by the “bad intelligence” circulating before
the invasion, or that no one could have predicted that the
WMDs would be gone, make a mental note: that person is full
of shit. No matter how smart or honest they may have appeared
to be in the past, there’s no way anyone knowledgeable about
the matter didn’t smell the dung coming miles away.
it from the hardnosed New Yorker investigative reporter
Seymour Hersh, who spoke at the Nation institute October
19, along with Scott Ritter.
of the things that’s overwhelming to me is the notion that
everybody believed before March of ‘03 that Saddam had weapons.
This is just urban myth. The fact of the matter is that,
in talking to people who worked on the UNSCOM and also in
the International Atomic Energy Agency, they were pretty
much clear by ‘97 that there was very little likelihood
that Saddam had weapons. And there were many people in our
State Department, in the Department of Energy, in the CIA
who didn’t believe there were weapons. And I think history
is going to judge the mass hysteria we had about Saddam
response, in part:
bottom line is by 1995 there were no more weapons in Iraq,
there were no more documents in Iraq, there was no more
production capability in Iraq because we were monitoring
the totality of Iraq’s industrial infrastructure with the
most technologically advanced, the most intrusive arms control
regime in the history of arms control…the CIA knew this,
the British intelligence knew this, Israeli intelligence
knew this, German intelligence, the whole world knew this.”
the sad fact is, regular people still insist on trusting
their rulers. To this day, many will insist that Bush is
“just doing what he thinks is best for the country,” and
that he wouldn’t have misled us on purpose. Even now, faced
with documented evidence that we were knowingly told lies
about an Iraqi nuclear program, some choose instead to cast
baseless, juvenile aspersions at Joe Wilson and his wife.
Anything to avoid acknowledging what we already know: that
we were lied to, conned into buying a pointless occupation
in our most vulnerable hour.
a word for a person who trusts strangers—“sucker.” But what
do you call it when the sucker keeps on trusting a con artist
long after he’s been taken?
called blind faith, and it doesn’t die easy, or pretty.
A lot of people just don’t want to face the humiliating
reality that they’ve been made fools. That’s why the war
con always works: you can’t prosecute a swindler when his
victims refuse to admit they’ve been duped.