Let history judge

Stung by growing criticism of his Iraq policy which has manifested itself in all-time low public opinion ratings, President Bush last month embarked on a tour in which he delivered five speeches outlining his "Plan for Victory" in Iraq, as well as offering a defense of his decision to invade Iraq. "It is true that much of the intelligence [used to justify the invasion] turned out to be wrong", Mr. Bush said in the fourth of these speeches. "As President, I'm responsible for the decision to go into Iraq."

While taking responsibility for his actions, Mr. Bush has not taken well to any criticism of his role in over-selling the case for war, and in his speech was quick to attack those who dared hold him to account. "Some of the most irresponsible comments about manipulating intelligence", he said, "have come from politicians who saw the same intelligence we saw, and then voted to authorize the use of force against Saddam Hussein. These charges are pure politics."

But it is the President, through his speeches, who is engaged in politics of the most puerile sort. Mr. Bush failed to address his role in the Niger yellowcake forgery, the aluminum tube exaggeration, the rush to embrace "Curveball", or any of the myriad of politicized intelligence pushed by the White House in the lead up to war with Iraq. The President continued to exploit in the basest fashion the death of nearly 3,000 people on September 11, 2001. As has been his style since that horrible day, Mr. Bush hid behind the memory of so many fallen to mask his administration's shortcomings and disguise its true intent.

"Given Saddam's history", the President said (conveniently omitting that the CIA today states that Iraq had destroyed all of its WMD by the summer of 1991), "and the lessons of September the 11th, my decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision. Saddam was a threat -- and the American people and the world is better off because he is no longer in power." But even the CIA's National Intelligence Estimate of October 2002, used by the Bush administration to sell its Iraq war to the US Congress, failed to identify Saddam Hussein as a threat.

The White House pushed hard to find intelligence information that backed the assertions made by President Bush in the fall of 2002 that Hussein's regime was an "ally of al-Qaeda" and posed a direct terrorist threat to America. "This is a man that we know has had connections with al-Qaeda," he said, referring to Saddam Hussein. "This is a man who would like to use al-Qaeda as a forward army. And this is a man that we must deal with for the sake of peace."

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