The results of recent Congressional elections have partially reinstated our system of checks and balances, and may prove to restore some form of accountability to elected officials. The following essay outlines a fraction of the case for impeachment of President George W. Bush. Two points in particular will be discussed in detail, which both serve to highlight the major theme for impeachment, that is, intentional misuse of intelligence to garner support for a war. I will discuss 1) a claim in the 2003 State of the Union and 2) the “Downing Street memo.”
The January 2003 State Of The Union speech was crucial to bolstering support for the invasion of Iraq. In the speech President Bush stated “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” Prior to the State Of The Union, in an October 2002 Cincinnati speech that very same claim was omitted at the request of Director of the CIA George Tenet. The CIA sent a fax to the White House stating “(1) The evidence is weak. One of the two mines…of the uranium oxide is flooded. The other mine…is under control of the French authorities.” CIA Director Tenet also phoned the deputy of the National Security Advisor, Stephen Hadley, warning him of the credibility of this claim. In addition, the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate referred to the uranium claims as “highly dubious.”
Also, in February of 2002 President Bush assigned Ambassador Joseph Wilson to Niger to investigate the uranium claims. After eight days he reported back to the CIA that the claims were “bogus and unrealistic.” Around this same time, in November and December of 2002 upon release of Iraq’s 12,000-page weapons dossier, the State Department along with National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, criticize Iraq for omitting uranium acquisition information from the document. Rice published a piece in the New York Times (January 23, 2003) titled “Why We Know Iraq Is Lying” in which she states that the declaration of weapons “fails to account for or explain Iraq’s efforts to get uranium from abroad.”
To summarize, the chronological order of aforementioned events leads to a sobering conclusion. The Iraq uranium claims were thoroughly investigated, discussed, and debunked. Under advisement from the CIA, the claims were omitted from Bush’s October 2002 speech. The White House put them back into the January 2003 State of the Union, and ironically, a few days later those same claims were omitted from Colin Powell’s February 5th speech to the United Nations. In a July 2003 press briefing, when questions arose regarding the White House’s knowledge of the credibility of the uranium claims, the White House Press Secretary spoke on behalf of the President claiming “after the speech, information was learned about the forged documents. It’s known now what was not known by the White House prior to the speech.” This was an outright lie, and warrants an investigation.
The second potentially incriminating event involves the Downing Street Memo. These are the minutes of a top-secret meeting between high-ranking foreign policy advisors to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair. This meeting took place eight months before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Excerpts of the memo refer to a July 2002 visit to Washington by Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of the British Secret Intelligence Service. An excerpt reads: “C [Sir Richard Dearlove] reported on his recent talks in Washington…Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”
This is detrimental to the Bush Administration in two ways: 1) Our allies in the war and closest partners in the intelligence community, namely the highest-ranking British Intelligence officials, clearly believed that “the facts were being fixed around policy,” and 2) At that moment in time the Bush Administration repeatedly assured the American public that a decision to go to war had not been made. Further disturbing evidence could be found later in the memo:
“It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran.”
According to the WMD analysis made by British Secret Intelligence, this directly contradicts claims by the Bush Administration that Iraq posed “an imminent threat,” claims that at a minimum were a primary justification for the invasion. Libya, North Korea, and Iran did not have WMD capabilities at the time, and despite credible intelligence, the Bush Administration continuously championed that “we believe he [Hussein] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.” These overstated analyses functioned to mislead the public into supporting the invasion of Iraq.
A 2006 congressional report by the Select Committee On Intelligence was assembled to review pre-war intelligence assessments on Iraq. The report concluded that “Most of the major key judgments in the Intelligence Community’s October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate…either overstated, or were not supported by, the underlying intelligence reporting.”
Again, whether the American public was knowingly lied to, lightly deceived, or even with honest intentions led into this war, it is the primary architects that should be held accountable for its aftereffects. The subsequent chain of events such as the invasion of Iraq and a ferocious battle against an insurgency has resulted in the death of 2,839 US troops (and counting), over 100,000 civilians, and inflicted irreparable harm to the moral high ground of the US as a global governing power. This mistake alone is grounds for at the very least, an investigation into the manner in which information was analyzed and passed on to the public.
It is to be expected that regardless of political affiliation, every administration will be susceptible to mistakes and failures, all of which should be met with an appropriate amount of criticism and forgiveness. There are instances however, in which the adverse effects of an administration’s actions far surpass any realm of acceptability, and if enough evidence surfaces to suggest gross mishandling or wrongdoing, than to ignore such evidence would itself be criminal. It is for the two aforementioned reasons in addition to several others unable to be mentioned, that a mere discussion of impeaching high-ranking officials including President Bush, is not such an outrageous proposition.
Published by the Collegiate Times on 11/13/2006
By Brian T. Murphy
The following essay outlines a fraction of the case for impeachment of President George W. Bush, and includes a chronological dissection of events surrounding the 2003 State of the Union speech and the recently released “Downing Street memo.”
The Case for Impeachment