Friday, September 15, 2006
For a moment the lie becomes truth.
— Dostoevski, The Brothers Karamazov
They were very good students. That is why they remembered the techniques that we taught them back in the 1980s.
During the 1980s Iran and Iraq were engaged in a war that the United States hoped would go on for a very long time. That is because even though we are a peace loving people, we often elect leaders who are such control freaks that they want to decide how other people’s wars do, or don’t, end. Here’s what happened in the 1980s.
In the mid-1980s we were selling arms to the Iranian government for use in its war with Iraq. At the same time, we furnished intelligence information to Iraq for use in its war with Iran. It was not as useful as the weapons we sold Iran because the satellite photos we furnished had been altered to leave out important details. The fact that one side got weapons and the other side bad information did not mean we were taking sides. We also gave Iran intelligence that was deliberately distorted or inaccurate.
When asked about this apparently peculiar way of doing business, state department officials said the U.S. shared doctored information in an effort to prevent either Iran or Iraq from prevailing in the conflict. Acknowledging that the policy might seem a bit confusing, the state department spokesman said that to understand it: “You had to have been there.” He didn’t say where “there” was. Never mind. The war dragged on for many years and the policy was a resounding success. As I said at the outset, Iran and Iraq were good students.
We invaded Iraq because of faulty information furnished by Iraqis and Iranians although in that case the faulty information was an excuse, not a reason.
On September 7, 2006, the Senate Intelligence Committee released two of the five chapters it is preparing on prewar intelligence about Iraq. One chapter addresses the accuracy of the pre-war analyses of Iraq’s nuclear-chemical-and biological-weapons capabilities and the other chapter deals with the quality of information furnished by Iraqi exiles to the administration in the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq. The two chapters are, of course, intertwined.
The report says Iraqi exiles (who hoped to add fuel to Mr. Bush’s zeal for going after bad guys) eagerly fed him made up tripe, just as Ronald Reagan, fed tripe to the Iraqis and Iranians. Even after it was known that the Iraqi National Congress (whose head was Mr. Bush’s sometime good friend, Ahmad Chalabi) had, in the words of the report, been “penetrated by hostile intelligence services” (including Iran, a member of Mr. Bush’s axis of evil), the National Security Council insisted on maintaining a close relationship with that organization which included continued funding.
Describing the actions of the Iraqi National Congress the report said that it “Attempted to influence United States policy on Iraq by providing false information through defectors directed at convincing the United States that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and had links to terrorists.” Some of the false information pertained to Iraq’s biological program and the report said that that information had been furnished by a known liar and its use “constituted a serious error.” An assertion that Mr. Hussein was trying to reconstitute his nuclear program was known by some in the intelligence community to be false even as it was being made by Mr. Bush.
Not only did the report conclude that the U.S. was being fed bad information but it demonstrated yet again, that Mr. Bush is nothing if not a consummate liar. On August 21, 2006 Mr. Bush said in a speech that Sadam Hussein “had relations with Zarqawi” even though those words were spoken 10 months after the CIA had concluded that there was no relationship between the two men and that Mr. Hussein’s intelligence service had unsuccessfully tried to find and capture Mr. Zarqawi.
There is of course, a difference between the tripe we were serving in the 1980s and the tripe the Iraqis were serving in the days leading up to the invasion of Iraq. The war between Iran and Iraq was probably lengthened because of the false information that was given to and believed by those two countries. The invasion of Iraq took place not because Mr. Bush believed what he was saying but because he wanted to have a war and the lies he knew to be lies gave him the excuse he needed.
Commenting on the administration lies, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, vice chair of the intelligence committee said: “It is such a blatant misleading of the United States, its people, to prepare them, to position them, to, in fact, make them enthusiastic or feel that it’s justified to go to war with Iraq. That kind of public manipulation I don’t know has any precedent in American history.” George Bush, too, is without precedent in American history.