Sunday, July 13, 2003

Is the Gulf War II Impeachable?

As I write this (July 14, 2003), the CIA and its director George Tenet, is being set up as the fall guy.

You see, it's now two months since active fighting ended in the Iraq "War" (a.k.a. Gulf War II). The justifications for this war included claims of active danger by Iraq's supposed continued development of "Weapons of Mass Destruction" and its imminent development of nuclear weapons. However in the two months since the ending of active fighting, no evidence, zero evidence, of either activity have been found. There is a growing questioning of "why".

Clearly with the writings concerning this "war" I've made prior to this, that I disagreed mightily with launching this war. It should not be a surprise that I'm now asking "is this impeachable"? That is, given that it appears the administration may have repeatedly lied, having the purpose of launching this war, doesn't that fit the definition of "high crimes and misdemeanors"?

Before we get to the question of impeachability, let's review what's happened since the end of active fighting.

[BBC; July 14, 2003; news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3063361.stm] Core of weapons case crumbling Of the nine main conclusions in the British government document "Iraq's weapons of mass destruction", not one has been shown to be conclusively true.

[The Independant (London); July 13, 2003; news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/story.jsp?story=424008] 20 Lies About the War 1 Iraq was responsible for the 11 September attacks ... 2 Iraq and al-Qa'ida were working together ... 3 Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa for a "reconstituted" nuclear weapons programme ... 4 Iraq was trying to import aluminium tubes to develop nuclear weapons ... 5 Iraq still had vast stocks of chemical and biological weapons from the first Gulf War ... 6 Iraq retained up to 20 missiles which could carry chemical or biological warheads, with a range which would threaten British forces in Cyprus ... 7 Saddam Hussein had the wherewithal to develop smallpox ... 8 US and British claims were supported by the inspectors ... 9 Previous weapons inspections had failed ... 10 Iraq was obstructing the inspectors ... 11 Iraq could deploy its weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes ...

And, of course, the article goes on. The BBC article above goes through a similar list of assertions

  1. "Iraq has a useable chemical and biological weapons capability which has included recent production of chemical and biological agents."
  2. "Saddam continues to attach great importance to the possession of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles... He is determined to retain these capabilities."
  3. "Iraq can deliver chemical and biological agents using an extensive range of shells, bombs, sprayers and missiles."
  4. "Iraq continues to work on developing nuclear weapons... Uranium has been sought from Africa."
  5. "Iraq possesses extended-range versions of the Scud ballistic missile."
  6. "Iraq's current military planning specifically envisages the use of chemical and biological weapons."
  7. "The Iraqi military are able to deploy these weapons (chemical and biological) within 45 minutes of a decision to do so."
  8. "Iraq... is already taking steps to conceal and disperse sensitive equipment."
  9. "Iraq's chemical, biological, nuclear and ballistic missile programme are well funded."

These are the kinds of questions that are being asked more and more repeatedly in the news in the U.S. currently. People who were for the "war" are now expressing doubt.

The doubts being talked of in U.S. news media currently focuses on one assertion in President Bush's State of the Union speech. Namely: "The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." The statement has since been shown to be false, and the paperwork that supposedly provided the proof has been shown to be a forgery. A statement has been made to the public by a former U.S. Ambassador who was sent by the CIA, during 2002, to Niger to investigate the claim, and showed it to have been a forgery. Also it's known that the CIA, George Tenet specifically, had objected to the same line being said in a speech in October 2002, and had succeeded to prevent the statement from being said, but apparently didn't object in the preparations by the next January in the preparations for the State of the Union speech.

[BBC Online; July 11, 2003; news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3058809.stm] CIA 'cleared' Iraq uranium claim Mr Bush said the CIA had cleared the State of the Union address he made on 28 January containing the allegation - since discredited - that Iraq had been trying to buy uranium from Niger. In a statement later on Friday, CIA director George Tenet acknowledged his organisation had wrongly allowed Mr Bush to tell the American people that Iraq was trying to acquire nuclear material from Africa.

[Washington Post; July 13, 2003; washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A48847-2003Jul12.html?nav=hptop_tb] CIA Got Uranium Reference Cut in Oct. CIA Director George J. Tenet successfully intervened with White House officials to have a reference to Iraq seeking uranium from Niger removed from a presidential speech last October, three months before a less specific reference to the same intelligence appeared in the State of the Union address, according to senior administration officials. Tenet argued personally to White House officials, including deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley, that the allegation should not be used because it came from only a single source, according to one senior official. Another senior official with knowledge of the intelligence said the CIA had doubts about the accuracy of the documents underlying the allegation, which months later turned out to be forged. The new disclosure suggests how eager the White House was in January to make Iraq's nuclear program a part of its case against Saddam Hussein even in the face of earlier objections by its own CIA director. It also appears to raise questions about the administration's explanation of how the faulty allegations were included in the State of the Union speech.

To be fair, the question of controlling nuclear proliferation is very serious. The international Atomic Energy Commission was created for a very valuable purpose; that nuclear war would be a Really Bad Thing to have happen, and that an international body is needed to keep nuclear capable countries in check. For any country to not agree to the nuclear regimine every other country is adhering to would undermine that global decision to control the proliferation of nuclear weapons. If there were a valid nuclear issue in Iraq, I would not be writing this article.

At the same time as the lead-up this Iraq "war", a similar nuclear threat in Korea was also much in the news. Note that Iraq, Korea and Iran were all labeled as the Axis of Evil, and all three have had nuclear proliferation charges leveled against them. The charges against Iran having been laid after the end of active fighting. There is a valid nuclear issue in Korea, which the administration either has under control or is shuffling under the carpet in order to avoid getting everybody distracted. There have been some rumblings in the press about nuclear issues in Iran, but they are unclear at the moment, and they may be getting pushed forward was justification for the planned invasion of Iran after Iraq was finished off.

If there were any proof uncovered in Iraq of the claims used to justify this "war", I wouldn't be writing this article. Instead I'd be begrudgingly saying, "well, okay, these guys were dangerous, etc". This isn't a post-"war" conversion either, as the above two paragraphs were what I was saying at the time. It's the lack of proof since then that has me riled up.

Consider the urgency with which the administration pushed for this "war", the imminent threat that Iraq was made out to be, and the total lack of proof that has since been found. Consider the cost, not just in money, but in peoples lives, and in American credibility, all squandered for whatever is the hidden agenda of the U.S. administration.

As is being said by the U.S. troops on the scene:

news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/story.jsp?story=424008 But Lieutenant General James Conway, the leading US marine general in Iraq, conceded afterwards that intelligence reports that chemical weapons had been deployed around Baghdad before the war were wrong. "It was a surprise to me ... that we have not uncovered weapons ... in some of the forward dispersal sites," he said. "We've been to virtually every ammunition supply point between the Kuwaiti border and Baghdad, but they're simply not there. We were simply wrong. Whether or not we're wrong at the national level, I think still very much remains to be seen."

The U.S. troops have been in near complete control of the country (but for the geurilla activities that are continuing to kill U.S. soldiers every day) for two months now, and nothing has been found. Nothing. The closest is a couple trailers full of chemical equipment, that's later been shown to be hydrogen production facilities for weather balloons.

The quagmire faced by the U.S. government leaders over the false claim on the Uranium issue is also being shared in Britain and Australia:

[smh.com.au Sun-Herald; July 13, 2003; smh.com.au/articles/2003/07/12/1057979649821.html] Gung-ho Howard lets spooks take the rap Despite the claims from the Government that no one cares, the public wants to know who knew what about Iraq and its arms, Michelle Grattan writes. Either our public servants dealing with intelligence matters need some serious lessons in how to read a report, or they've taken to heart the message of "children overboard". That was, you'll remember, that politicians won't thank you for telling them what they don't want to hear. We have an extraordinary situation. Three top agencies responsible for intelligence, foreign policy and defence assessment - the Office of National Assessments (ONA), the Foreign Affairs Department and the Defence Intelligence Organisation - have admitted they were aware the US State Department doubted claims that Iraq had sought uranium from Africa for a nuclear program. Yet all say they didn't tell their political bosses.

[The Guardian (London); July 13, 2003; observer.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,997243,00.html] Blair ignored CIA weapons warning Britain and America suffered a complete breakdown in relations over vital evidence against Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction, refusing to share information and keeping each other in the dark over key elements of the case against the Iraqi dictator. In a remarkable letter released last night, the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, reveals a catalogue of disputes between the two countries, lending more ammunition to critics of the war and exerting fresh pressure on the Prime Minister.

[The Independant (London); July 13, 2003; news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/story.jsp?story=424034] Straw defends UK intelligence in row over Saddam's uranium He also confirmed reports that the CIA had asked Britain to drop the claim from its "Iraq dossier" published in September 2002. Britain refused to do so. In a letter published yesterday the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, defended the inclusion of the Niger claim, admitting that the CIA had expressed its concerns but saying that it had not made it clear what they were. In his letter to the Commons foreign affairs committee, Mr Straw said the Government had based its claim in part "on reliable intelligence which we had not shared with the US". Mr Straw did not say why Britain declined to share the information with its ally, but wrote that he had explained the reasons privately to the committee. A Downing Street spokesman said the information had come from foreign intelligence services and was "not ours to share".

For the record here's a very detailed history of events around this Uranium claim:

[smh.com.au Sun-Herald; July 13, 2003; smh.com.au/articles/2003/07/11/1057783358954.html] Dodgy intelligence: who knew what and when This starts with Nov 2001: Italian intelligence agency tells United States counterparts of information suggesting Iraq is seeking uranium from Niger, based on four forged letters. Italian intelligence passing along the now-known-to-be-a-forgery claim, and by February 2002 it had been proven to be false. But it's the story that would not die. Before the State of the Union address, I count five attempts by the CIA to squash this story.

One of the justifications that could have been a solid reason for war is the supposed link between Iraq and al-Queda, as well as other terrorist organizations. Over and over the claim was made, Iraq is developing WMD's and they can supply them to terrorist organizations that can in turn launch attacks against the United States. Well, consider that it's well known that Saddam Hussein and al-Queda had very different agendas, and totally opposite desires. Why would they work together?

[Washington Post; July 12, 2003; washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A47665-2003Jul12] Ex-Officials Dispute Iraq Tie to al-Qaida Before the war, Bush and members of his cabinet said Saddam was harboring top al-Qaida operatives and suggested Iraq could slip the terrorist network chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons. Now, two former Bush administration intelligence officials say the evidence linking Saddam to the group responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was never more than sketchy at best. "There was no significant pattern of cooperation between Iraq and the al-Qaida terrorist operation," former State Department intelligence official Greg Thielmann said this week. ntelligence agencies agreed on the "lack of a meaningful connection to al-Qaida" and said so to the White House and Congress, said Thielmann, ...

The lies aren't just about Uranium. Look at the background material page to see my earlier research.

[Daily Times, of Pakistan; July 15, 2003; http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_13-7-2003_pg3_1] EDITORIAL: Washington’s web of deceit The cobweb of deception woven by the Bush administration to justify its war on Iraq is now threatening to ensnare the administration itself. The latest political firestorm relates to the administration’s admission earlier this week that a reference tucked away in President Bush’s State of the Union address January 29 to the effect that Iraq had tried to get uranium from Niger was based on forged intelligence. ... President Bush’s National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, has passed the buck on to the Central Intelligence Agency. ... But let’s put all this in perspective. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Iraq’s WMD capability was a ruse for making war on that country. Much has already been written about it. Some weeks ago, US Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz, said that the WMD excuse was a good sell, though it wasn’t the overriding factor. Just the other day, US Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the US did not go to war because there was any new intelligence on Iraq’s WMD programme but because the threat was seen in new light post-9/11. This essentially means that Washington’s neo-cons tried to take out Iraq as part of a bigger agenda and not because Baghdad offered any heightened – or at least immediate – threat.

Sometimes the most apt observers of the U.S. are outside the country. Maybe that's because those observers are outside the corporate dominance of the American media, but that's a research report for another day. In any case, it's the last couple sentences that are important here. That even if many or all of the claims made during the justification period before launching the war were true, that it's all a lie anyway because of the hidden agenda. Or:

The principle that plain lying to a higher, noble end is acceptable is troublesome enough. In this case, it is even more troublesome to prove that the end was indeed noble enough for Washington and London to have resorted to lies. ... This is of a piece with another allegation – made by US Secretary of State Colin Powell, no less, in his speech to the United Nations Security Council – that Saddam Hussein was involved with Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda. Again, tucked away in Secretary Powell’s speech was a reference that an Al Qaeda operative acted through Iraq’s embassy in Islamabad. The Pakistan government immediately refuted his observation. It is now widely known that the whole thing was a stretch and Secretary Powell has come under fire for making that connection. No matter what the US does to convince the world of the genuineness of its motives, the fact is that the whole Iraq venture smells to the high heavens.

Ah, how refreshing is the honesty of the press in the "third world". That's something I found so interesting and amusing in my trip to India.

A week later [July 20, 2003] ...

[Austin American Statesman; July 19, 2003; statesman.com/asection/content/auto/epaper/editions/saturday/news_f381debac525d080002e.html] Prewar report included doubts: White House acknowledges Bush didn't read all of Iraq assessment President Bush and his national security adviser didn't entirely read the most authoritative prewar assessment of U.S. intelligence on Iraq, including a State Department statement that an allegation Bush would later use in his State of the Union address was "highly dubious," White House officials said Friday.

[NY Times; July 17, 2003; nytimes.com/2003/07/18/international/worldspecial/18INTE.html] New Details Emerge on Uranium Claim and Bush's Speech

[WorldNetDaily.com; July 17, 2003; wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=33614] Dissent over uranium more than a 'footnote': Doubts about African deal got bigger play in report than White House hints An objection raised about a uranium charge in a secret high-level report on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction was more than a "footnote," as described by the White House, officials say. In a National Intelligence Estimate published last October, the intelligence arm of the State Department called "highly dubious" allegations that Iraq was shopping for uranium in Africa. The dissenting view was presented in the main body of the report, not buried in a footnote, sources say.

What, they didn't read the document closely? They want us to believe they launched the country into a war with anything but a firm grasp of the facts? They're angling for "dereliction of duty" or "incompetence" rather than "high crimes"?

Impeachment?

If President George Bush were in a weaker position with, say, a house or two of Congress in Democratic control, we might be hearing active calls for impeachment right now. Certainly what's been given above lays quite a layer of doubt over everything in sight.

For another comentators view on this

[TomPaine.com; July 10, 2003; tompaine.com/feature2.cfm/ID/8270] Hawks Say The Darndest Things! Keeping track of the "real reason" for the invasion of Iraq can be quite a chore these days. The Bush administration doggedly maintains that its claims about weapons of mass destruction were legitimate. Yet a litany of apologists has scrambled for other explanations. As it became evident that Saddam's deadly arsenal was unlikely to ever materialize, these defenders have argued that the invasion of Iraq wasn't about the danger of Saddam's imminent attack after all. Okay, we're on the same page, because that's what I'm saying here. "WMD was never the basic reason for war. Nor was it the horrid repression in Iraq. Or the danger Saddam posed to his neighbors," writes Daniel Pipes, a conservative columnist for The New York Post. All this should come as a surprise to the American people, who were called upon to invest confidence in each of these ideas. But having ruled out such leading justifications, Pipes goes on to explain that "The campaign in Iraq is about keeping promises to the United States or paying the consequences."

Errr... wait a minute, the reason for the war wasn't the reasons that were stated over and over? Well, okay, readers of this sub-site already know that because on another page I went over the plans the neo-conservatives (Wolfowitz, Rumsfield and the rest) have been hatching for the last 15 years that were coincidentally the same as the steamroller that's now run Saddam out of town.

"Smashing Saudi Arabia or Syria would have been fine," Friedman writes. "But we hit Saddam for one simple reason: because we could, and because he deserved it and because he was right at the heart of that world." Of course, Friedman admits that this rationale contradicts the "stated reason" for the attack: "I argued before the war," he says, "that Saddam posed no [immediate] threat to America, and had no links with Al Qaeda, and that we couldn't take the nation to war 'on the wings of a lie.'" Wings of a lie? With friends like that, who needs political enemies to call for a Congressional investigation?

Yes, exactly. Preaching to the choir you are.

It's clear that lying to get a war going is a high crime. Certainly more so than lying about a little sex.

Speaking of sex, some of the resources online about impeachment were put together during the impeachment of Bill Clinton

[JURIST Law Professor's Network; jurist.law.pitt.edu/impeach.htm] Guide to Impeachment and Censure Materials Online

[Association of the Bar of NY City; abcny.org/presimpt.htm] THE LAW OF PRESIDENTIAL IMPEACHMENT The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors. ... The House of Representatives... shall have the sole Power of Impeachment. ... The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present. ...

And so on: google.com/search?hl=en&ie=ISO-8859-1&q=impeachment

Conclusion

Clearly I feel impeachment is justified. What about you, the person reading this? What do you think?

Let me close with a thought from a recent movie, The Minority Report (Minority Report). I watched this movie the first time in the middle of the active fighting in Iraq and thought it to be wildly coincidental.

Here we have a war, a pre-emptive war, launched based on the notion that Saddam Hussein might launch a war against the United States. In The Minority Report we have presented to us a police force which has a supposedly infallible method of predicting murders, and they are pre-emptively enforcing sentences on those who are contemplating committing murder. A clear analogy of pre-emptively waging war, yes?

In the movie the police methods were found to be highly fallible, and had been subverted by the police commissioner himself in a power grab, and the whole system was destroyed because of it. So we find here, the intelligence methods are being found to be highly fallible, that the administration officials are willing to force the intelligence officials to say anything to justify whatever it is the administration officials want, and that it may be a naked power grab.

My concern is not just about this particular event, the needless spending of money, the killing of many people, etc. All that's reprehensible enough, even considering the result of freeing Iraq from a horrendous dictatorial government. If we, the American people, do not stand up to this abuse of power, then where is our freedom? Where is the freedom that's been fought for by generations of our people? What is it this country stands for if it isn't honesty and truth? Why can we fight for the freedom of people in other countries, and forfeit our own?