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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

all liars 

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Mr. President, it won't work this time.

With a Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll finding 57 percent of Americans agreeing that George W. Bush "deliberately misled people to make the case for war with Iraq," the president clearly needs to tend to his credibility problems. But his partisan attacks on the administration's critics, in a Veterans Day speech last week and in Alaska yesterday, will only add to his troubles.

Bush was not subtle. He said that anyone accusing his administration of having "manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people" was giving aid and comfort to the enemy. "These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will," Bush declared last week. "As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them."

You wonder: Did Patrick Fitzgerald, the special counsel in the Valerie Plame leak investigation, send the wrong signal to our troops and our enemy by daring to seek the indictment of Scooter Libby on a charge of perjury and obstruction of justice? Must Americans who support our troops desist from any criticism of the use of intelligence by the administration?


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Liar Liar Liar


Bush was not subtle. He said that anyone accusing his administration of having "manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people" was giving aid and comfort to the enemy. "These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will," Bush declared last week. "As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them."

You wonder: Did Patrick Fitzgerald, the special counsel in the Valerie Plame leak investigation, send the wrong signal to our troops and our enemy by daring to seek the indictment of Scooter Libby on a charge of perjury and obstruction of justice? Must Americans who support our troops desist from any criticism of the use of intelligence by the administration?

There is a great missing element in the argument over whether the administration manipulated the facts. Neither side wants to talk about the context in which Bush won a blank check from Congress to invade Iraq. He doesn't want us to remember that he injected the war debate into the 2002 midterm election campaign for partisan purposes, and he doesn't want to acknowledge that he used the post-Sept. 11 mood to do all he could to intimidate Democrats from raising questions more of them should have raised.

The big difference between our current president and his father is that the first President Bush put off the debate over the Persian Gulf War until after the 1990 midterm elections. The result was one of most substantive and honest foreign policy debates Congress has ever seen, and a unified nation. The first President Bush was scrupulous about keeping petty partisanship out of the discussion.

The current President Bush did the opposite. He pressured Congress for a vote before the 2002 election, and the war resolution passed in October.

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Liars


No such thing ever happened. That bipartisan investigation -- the so-called "Phase II" probe into administration manipulation of pre-war intelligence -- is ongoing right now. It's taken this long to start because, as Laura Rozen reported in our October print issue, Senate intelligence committee chairman Pat Roberts dragged his feet; and, as Murray Waas reported in The National Journal online, once Roberts did haltingly begin the probe, Dick Cheney and his staff refused to turn over crucial documentation. The delays and stonewalls, of course, are exactly what led the Democrats to call the closed session of the Senate. The probe is finally proceeding -- but it sure hasn't "found" anything.

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