Bring 'em On!

The Bush administration's top 40 lies about war and terrorism


10) Ahmed Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress are a homegrown Iraqi political force, not a U.S.-sponsored front.

Chalabi is a more important bit player in the Iraq war than most people realize, and not because he was the U.S.'s failed choice to lead a post-Saddam government. It was Chalabi and his INC that funneled compliant defectors to the Bush administration, where they attested to everything the Bushmen wanted to believe about Saddam and Iraq (meaning, mainly, al Qaeda connections and WMD programs). The administration proceeded to take their dubious word over that of the combined intelligence of the CIA and DIA, which indicated that Saddam was not in the business of sponsoring foreign terrorism and posed no imminent threat to anyone.

Joshua Karsten

Naturally Chalabi is despised nowadays round the halls of Langley, but it wasn't always so. The CIA built the Iraqi National Congress and installed Chalabi at the helm back in the days following Gulf War I, when the thought was to topple Saddam by whipping up and sponsoring an internal opposition. It didn't work; from the start Iraqis have disliked and distrusted Chalabi. Moreover, his erratic and duplicitous ways have alienated practically everyone in the U.S. foreign policy establishment as well--except for Rumsfeld's Department of Defense, and therefore the White House.


11) The United States is waging a war on terror.

Practically any school child could recite the terms of the Bush Doctrine, and may have to before the Ashcroft Justice Department is finished: The global war on terror is about confronting terrorist groups and the nations that harbor them. The United States does not make deals with terrorists or nations where they find safe lodging.

Leave aside the blind eye that the U.S. has always cast toward Israel's actions in the territories. How are the Bushmen doing elsewhere vis-à-vis their announced principles? We can start with their fabrications and manipulations of Iraqi WMD evidence--which, in the eyes of weapons inspectors, the UN Security Council, American intelligence analysts, and the world at large, did not pose any imminent threat.

The events of recent months have underscored a couple more gaping violations of W's cardinal anti-terror rules. In April the Pentagon made a cooperation pact with the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK), an anti-Iranian terrorist group based in Iraq. Prior to the 1979 Iranian revolution, American intelligence blamed it for the death of several U.S. nationals in Iran.

Most glaring of all is the Bush administration's remarkable treatment of Saudi Arabia. Consider: Eleven of the nineteen September 11 hijackers were Saudis. The ruling House of Saud has longstanding and well-known ties to al Qaeda and other terrorist outfits, which it funds (read protection money) to keep them from making mischief at home. The May issue of Atlantic Monthly had a nice piece on the House of Saud that recounts these connections.

Yet the Bush government has never said boo regarding the Saudis and international terrorism. In fact, when terror bombers struck Riyadh in May, hitting compounds that housed American workers as well, Colin Powell went out of his way to avoid tarring the House of Saud: "Terrorism strikes everywhere and everyone. It is a threat to the civilized world. We will commit ourselves again to redouble our efforts to work closely with our Saudi friends and friends all around the world to go after al Qaeda." Later it was alleged that the Riyadh bombers purchased some of their ordnance from the Saudi National Guard, but neither Powell nor anyone else saw fit to revise their statements about "our Saudi friends."

Why do the Bushmen give a pass to the Saudi terror hotbed? Because the House of Saud controls a lot of oil, and they are still (however tenuously) on our side. And that, not terrorism, is what matters most in Bush's foreign policy calculus.

While the bomb craters in Riyadh were still smoking, W held a meeting with Philippine president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Speaking publicly afterward, he outlined a deal for U.S. military aid to the Philippines in exchange for greater "cooperation" in getting American hands round the throats of Filipino terrorists. He mentioned in particular the U.S.'s longtime nemesis Abu Sayyaf--and he also singled out the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a small faction based on Mindanao, the southernmost big island in the Philippine chain.

Of course it's by purest coincidence that Mindanao is the location of Asia's richest oil reserves.


12) The U.S. has made progress against world terrorist elements, in particular by crippling al Qaeda.

A resurgent al Qaeda has been making international news since around the time of the Saudi Arabia bombings in May. The best coverage by far is that of Asia Times correspondent Syed Saleem Shahzad. According to Shahzad's detailed accounts, al Qaeda has reorganized itself along leaner, more diffuse lines, effectively dissolving itself into a coalition of localized units that mean to strike frequently, on a small scale, and in multiple locales around the world. Since claiming responsibility for the May Riyadh bombings, alleged al Qaeda communiqués have also claimed credit for some of the strikes at U.S. troops in Iraq.

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