Once sworn into office, all statements that a president and vice president make are under oath. This is not optional, but rather, part of the job description.
Everything they say in public is also part of the public record (That's why this administration has an unusual penchant for secrecy). Yet, recently, both president Bush and vice president Cheney have been acting as though the run-up to the Iraq war was conducted behind closed doors and that there is no public record.
This is from a president who promised to restore honor and integrity to the presidency by not simply doing what's legal, but moral and right. Yet today, the entire Bush administration faces a massive credibility problem.
It should be recognized that the administration deftly outmaneuvered its domestic opponents in its campaign to wage war against Iraq. The veracity of the administration's campaign was irrelevant. The only issue was: could anyone stop them? The answer of course was, no. Not Congress, not the UN, not the media.
That the administration got its way did not make his war rationale true. It simply made him politically astute, especially considering that he kept his critics at bay until after the 2004 election. There's little doubt that the administration was fully aware that a systematic investigation of its WMD claims against Iraq - before the war - would have undermined its war plans. Knowing this, the administration had to feverishly speed up its plans, while vilifying and questioning the patriotism of its critics. Abroad, the ?Coalition of the Willing? -- with military assistance as the carrot & stick - was assembled and bribed or extorted into supporting the president's war, including, exempting U.S. soldiers from the International War Crimes Tribunal.
Who has forgotten how the French (?Old Europe?) were treated for not accepting the president's incredulous war rationale and especially his sense of urgency? (Through the use of verbal gymnastics, the president's minions now argue that he never claimed that the Iraqi threat was ?imminent.?)
The point is, the administration now accuses his critics of rewriting history, pretending that there is no public record. Yet, the record is as crystal clear today as it was before the war. (That Congress looked the other way or that much of mainstream media assisted the war effort is another story). The problem for the Bush administration, is that every time they continue to repeat their falsehoods - as if there were no public record - they seemingly forget that they've been under oath since assuming office.
In a sense, the only issue that has ever mattered was: Did Iraq ever constitute a credible threat to the United States -- as the administration has consistently maintained?
The notion that a fourth-rate power could somehow materially threaten the United States - even if it had an arsenal of WMDs and actual delivery systems -- was always ludicrous. That's why the UN strongly resisted the president's advances. Regardless, the administration still had to fabricate the case that Iraq had WMDs and had to scare the U.S. populace into believing that such weapons posed a threat. That's why the UN inspectors could not be given time to finish their jobs.
Did the Bush administration lie or "fix the intelligence" to get us into the war? The real question is, is the War Cabinet aware that they are still under oath?
One thing is certain; what many Democrats or liberals expect is never going to happen. The president will never admit to his fudging of the truth. If guilty, this is beyond an impeachable offense as it would expose him and his War Cabinet to charges (and make the U.S. liable) of intentionally fomenting a war under false pretenses, resulting in the needless deaths of thousands. If someone other than the president purportedly fixed the intelligence, that does not exonerate him as it was he who foolishly rushed the nation into war.
In this society, the only thing seemingly worse than lying, is being a failure or being consistently wrong on virtually everything -- especially while leading a disastrous and extremely costly military campaign.
Indeed, lying may not be the administration's biggest sin. It's gross incompetence and its claim to have the authority to wage permanent war -- without the consent of Congress -- and its claim to have the authority to indefinitely imprison and torture anyone - without an independent judicial review - smacks of an authoritarianism more closely associated with societies this nation has purportedly been opposed to.
? Column of the Americas 2005
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