Adamson: Flawed intelligence and the justification for war

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President George W. Bush. Flawed intelligence. There is a powerful poetic justice in the linkage of these words through all future American history.

But for Americans who love this country - count me as one of those, hands down - a much rougher justice must still be meted out. Flawed intelligence is simply not the reason America started a war. America made unprovoked war on Iraq because a handful of men within a magic circle of power decided we must after 9/11. In the aftermath of those atrocities, many Americans gave our leaders a golden loyalty. They betrayed it with atrocities of their own.

For as it has proved out since, no amount of unflawed intelligence could have dissuaded them. They would have their war.

Long before the first rocket flew, unflawed intelligence from outside the circle of power told us the threat from Iraq was limited to the brutal power of a murderous dictator over his own people:

* The Air Force had reported that Iraq's unmanned aircraft could not possibly be adapted to the aerial spraying of anthrax or other bacterial agents.

* Former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson, on a special assignment from the administration, had reported that accounts of an Iraq-Niger uranium deal were not just dubious or unlikely, but "highly doubtful." The paperwork that surfaced in Italy pointing to the deal had also been discredited as so much forgery.

* Many authoritative sources, including former U.N. weapons inspectors, had made it plain that Iraq could not have stockpiled weapons of mass destruction, not after 10 years of U.N. sanctions and rigorous inspections.

* Wild-eyed outpourings about a connection between Saddam and al-Qaida had been debunked by foreign intelligence services and reduced to pure ridicule among serious students of Hussein and the Middle East.

* A classified analysis by U.S. intelligence experts, military and civilian, raised doubts that banned weapons could be found in Iraq, even if they were there to be found.

* David Kay, retired head of the U.S. arms hunt in Iraq, despite carefully phrased efforts to keep the faith of maybe finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, has made it plain to the unbiased that no such weapons were there to be found.

They would have their war. The immense sums, the sumptuous technology, the trained personnel committed to intelligence weren't about to dissuade them. For those who still can doubt it ? did you catch the spectacle of Colin Powell, the Secretary of State himself, scouring through after-the-fact CIA documents, desperate to salvage his own credentials?

But it all comes too late, this care with documents, this concern over intelligence, this presidential commission, this careful avoidance of the undoubted fact that Iraq has the second-largest oil reserves of any nation, next only to its near-neighbor Saudi Arabia.

With so much denial, duplicity and avoidance in the air, a few other undoubted facts bear mentioning (they are more or less up to date, but some discrepancies should be expected amid the current dearth of information on undeniable facts):

* More than 500 U.S. service personnel have died in our unprovoked war on Iraq.

* The suicide rate of U.S. service personnel in Iraq is high enough to have alarmed the Pentagon.

* Approximately 10,000 Iraqi civilians, innocent by any measure, have been killed in the conflict.

* The war has cost the U.S. taxpayer more than $100 billion. Yet war costs are not accounted for at all in the president's budget request for 2005, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

* The national deficit did not exist when Bush became president - in fact the budget was $127 billion in surplus. Of course, Bush cannot be totally blamed for erasing the surplus; an economic downturn did some of the damage and massive tax reductions for the wealthy did the rest. Still, he has managed to create a deficit of about $500 billion - whatever the exact figure, it is the largest in our history, and we are paying for it with cutbacks in countless domestic programs. In other words, we are trading investments in our domestic present and future for investments in Iraq, a foreign nation last time I checked and almost sure to remain one unless we annex it for its oil. Even then, translating that crude oil into American gas tanks will only do so much to dent the $23,290 every U.S. citizen owes on the national debt.

All this for no reason. And now, the wrongdoers treat us to new ways of saying "oops." But for those of us who love our country, that just isn't enough justice. Sporting little flag pins in your lapel, affixing the ubiquitous flag decal to windows, license plates and bumpers is not enough. Pledging loyalty to the Republican or Democratic Party is not enough. The people of this country who believe in democracy, who know it is founded on justice first and foremost - these people must call on their congressional representatives to forget party allegiance and do the right thing, remove Bush from office or risk losing their own along with him.

Rebecca Adamson is the president of First Nations Development Institute and a columnist for Indian Country Today.