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Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Bush Didn't Lie!

Lord Butler's report into the British pre-war intelligence on Iraq, "Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction" has just been released. The inquiry is critical of the procedures of UK intelligence services, though it essentially aquits Tony Blair from charges that he misused or misrepresented intelligence and has this to say regarding uranium, Iraq, and Africa:
45. From our examination of the intelligence and other material on Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa, we have concluded that:
a. It is accepted by all parties that Iraqi officials visited Niger in 1999.
b. The British Government had intelligence from several different sources indicating that this visit was for the purpose of acquiring uranium. Since uranium constitutes almost three-quarters of Niger’s exports, the intelligence was credible.
c. The evidence was not conclusive that Iraq actually purchased, as opposed to having sought, uranium and the British Government did not claim this.
d. The forged documents were not available to the British Government at the time its assessment was made, and so the fact of the forgery does not undermine it. (Paragraph 503)
Remember, Bush's "Big Lie" from his State of the Union Address was:
"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
Well, it sure seems to me that Bush's statement is perfectly accurate and not misleading in the least. Especially given that the Butler report also confirmed (in paragraph 474) that the Iraqi regime:
a. Had the strategic intention of resuming the pursuit of prohibited weapons programmes, including if possible its nuclear weapons programme, when United Nations inspection regimes were relaxed and sanctions were eroded or lifted.

b. In support of that goal, was carrying out illicit research and development, and procurement, activities, to seek to sustain its indigenous capabilities.

c. Was developing ballistic missiles with a range longer than permitted under relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.
Speaking of lying, how about Joe Wilson, the former ambassador sent by the CIA to Niger whose evidence (or lack thereof) was used to promote Bush's "Big Lie" accusation?
Instead of assigning a trained intelligence officer to the Niger case, though, the C.I.A. sent a former American ambassador, Joseph Wilson, to talk to former Niger officials. His wife, Valerie Plame, was an officer in the counterproliferation division, and she had suggested that he be sent to Niger, according to the Senate report.

That finding contradicts previous statements by Mr. Wilson, who publicly criticized the Bush administration last year for using the Niger evidence to help justify the war in Iraq. After his wife's identity as a C.I.A. officer was leaked to the news media, Mr. Wilson said she had not played a role in his assignment, and argued that her C.I.A. employment had been disclosed to punish him.
And while we're on the subject of lying and deceit, Dave Kopel, who writes for the National Review Online, has identified Fifty-nine Deceits in Fahrenheit 9/11, and points out:
Moore's reasonable defenders have made two main points:

First, notwithstanding the specific falsehoods, isn't the film as a whole filled with many important truths?

Not really. We can divide the film into three major parts. The first part (Bush, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan) is so permeated with lies that most of the scenes amount to lies. The second, shorter part involves domestic issues and the USA PATRIOT Act. So far, I've identified only one clear falsehood in this segment (Rep. Porter Goss's toll-free number). So this part, at least arguably, presents useful information. The third part, on Iraq has several outright falsehoods--such as the Saddam regime's murder of Americans, and the regime's connection with al Qaeda. Other scenes in the third part--such as Iraqi casualties, interviews with American soldiers, and the material on bereaved mother Lila Lipscomb--are not blatant lies; but the information presented is so extremely one-sided (the only Iraqi casualties are innocents, nobody in Iraq is grateful for liberation, all the American soldiers are disillusioned, except for the sadists) that the overall picture of the Iraq War is false.

Second, say the Moore supporters, what about the Bush lies?

Well there are lies from the Bush administration which should concern everyone. For example, the Bush administration suppressed data from its own Department of Health and Human Services which showed that the cost of the new Prescription Drug Benefit would be much larger than the administration claimed. This lie was critical to passage of the Bush drug benefit bill. Similarly, Bush's characterization of his immigration proposal as not granting "amnesty" to illegal aliens is quite misleading; although the Bush proposal does not formally grant amnesty, the net result is the same as widespread amnesty. As one immigration reform group put it, "Any program that allows millions of illegal aliens to receive legal status in this country is an amnesty."

But two wrongs don't make a right, and the right response to Presidential lies is not more lies from his political opponents. Moreover, regarding the issues presented in Fahrenheit 9/11, the evidence of Bush lies is extremely thin.
Note that Dave Kopel is not a hard core Republican. In fact, Like Michael Moore, in 2000 he endorsed and claims to have voted for Ralph Nader. However, Kopel seems to be more interested in the truth than in smearing Bush, even though he personally dislikes Bush. Wish I could say the same for Michael Moore.

As I say, it's easy to make someone look bad by making stuff up. And that is what Joe Wilson and Michael Moore are doing, nothing less, nothing Moore.

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