Monday, May 11, 2015

How we got into Iraq will not be a campaign issue in 2016

By Richard Barry

In an Op-Ed appearing in the Wall Street Journal in February, Laurence Silberman, the federal judge who co-chaired the 2004 Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, stated succinctly the conservative position on the charge that George W. Bush lied to justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Our WMD commission ultimately determined that the intelligence community was “dead wrong” about Saddam’s weapons. But as I recall, no one in Washington political circles offered significant disagreement with the intelligence community before the invasion. The National Intelligence Estimate was persuasive—to the president, to Congress and to the media.

The clear argument is that Bush didn't lie, he was simply misled by faulty intelligence like everyone else. And that is what every conservative will say to this day. And every liberal (give or take a few) will say something like Simon Maloy wrote at Salon in response to the Silberman Op-Ed.
But the Bush administration absolutely did engage in willful deception. Quite a bit of it, in fact. It’s one thing to simply repeat an intelligence assessment that is wrong, and quite another to take a disputed, credibly challenged intelligence assessment and state it as uncontested fact. That’s a lie, and senior Bush officials did it often. There’s no better example of this than the aluminum tubes.

Yes, the aluminum tubes, and more, if you really want to be reminded. But I don't want to relitigate the episode, nor is there any reason to because it won't change anyone's mind.

I only raise it because it came up in a recent Fox News interview with Jeb Bush in which he said, “I would have [authorized the invasion], and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody. And so would almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got."

The positions of each side are entrenched, and it no longer matters, certainly not for the 2016 election. No doubt the instability in the Middle East will provide fodder for Republicans to sabre-rattle and charge Mrs. Clinton with having done a poor job as Secretary of State. And she may push back in some way that generally invokes Republican foreign policy failures, but how and why we got into Iraq in the first place will not figure prominently.

Americans prefer to forget things if they can find a way to do it. I can't imagine this issue will take up any oxygen in 2016, even if a Bush is the Republican nominee. Strange, but true.

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  • I agree. The time for this issue is over. The time to discuss torture is over. But it is over because the Democrats decided to look forward and not backward. However, had things been the other way around, there would have been a lot of looking back. As we've seen over the last six years, even when there was no wrongdoing, the Republicans are continuing to look back. Republicans understand that the truth doesn't matter in a postmodern media environment. Now the Bush administration torture program is no more "true" than Obama's supposed refusal to provide military support during the Benghazi attack. In this way, Bush's lies will affect the 2016 election because the Republicans will be able to do just what Jeb Bush did. And no mainstream media "journalist" will push back. Because it's the postmodern world! Truth is just a matter of opinion.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 4:12 AM  

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