Tacoma's home-town paper showed unwonted feistiness Saturday. -- Instead of reporting George W. Bush's divisive attack on his critics uncritically, it examined some of the assertions made by him and by Stephen Hadley, his national security adviser. -- The News Tribune concluded: "The facts differ." -- The News Tribune's front-page lead piece, unsigned but attributed to "news services," the Washington Post, and Margaret Talev of the News Tribunes Washington bureau, pointed out, specifically, that (1) Bush's claim that he had the same sources of intelligence as the legislators who voted in favor of granting the president authority to go to war is untrue; (2) Bush has not been cleared of manipulating intelligence by Congressional investigating committes; (3) although Bush said Friday that "When I made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, Congress approved it with strong bipartisan support," in fact "The October 2002 joint resolution authorized the use of force in Iraq, but it did not directly mention the removal of Saddam from power. The resolution voiced support for diplomatic efforts to enforce 'all relevant Security Council resolutions,' and for using the armed forces to enforce the resolutions and defend against the continuing threat posed by Iraq." -- By doing so, of course, the News Tribune put itself squarely in the camp of those the president chose to criticize on Friday, and for this it is to be congratulated. -- (For an argument that the president's March 18, 2003, letter to leaders of both houses of Congress affirming that "(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic and other peaceful means alone will neither (A) adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq nor (B) likely lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and (2) acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001," which he was required to sign under the terms of the congressional grant of authority, was in fact a lie to Congress, and that therefore Bush's decision to launch Operation Iraqi Freedom was therefore without legal justification and was not, in fact, a legal act, but rather a crime constituting a "high crime" under Article II, Section 4, of the Constitution -- the very crime that the Nuremberg tribunal affirmed in 1946 to be "not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole," namely, the crime of waging aggressive war, see UFPPC's April 21, 2005, statement, entitled "Call for the Impeachment of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.") ...
BUSH LASHES OUT AT IRAQ WAR CRITICS
By News Tribune news services
** President says false charges revise history of conflicts origins, hurt morale of troops **
** Congress saw the same Iraq data he did and the White House has been cleared on prewar intelligence, the president says. The fact differ. **
News Tribune (Tacoma, WA)
November 12, 2005
Pages A1, A12
President Bush used a Veterans Day speech Friday in Pennsylvania to chastise Democrats who suggest they were tricked into going to war in Iraq 21/2 years ago and to deny critics allegations that the administration manipulated prewar intelligence.
While its perfectly legitimate to criticize my decisions or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began, the president said, flanked by soldiers in a midday speech at the Tobyhanna Army Depot. Questioning the administrations honesty would only hurt soldiers morale and empower terrorists, he said.
The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important for politicians to throw out false charges, he said.
President Bush and his national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, have answered critics of the Iraq war in recent days with a two-pronged argument: that Congress saw the same intelligence the administration did before the war, and that independent commissions have determined that the administration did not misrepresent the intelligence.
Neither assertion is wholly accurate. Heres a look at the broader issues the president addressed Friday:
Intelligence sharing: The administrations overarching point is true: Intelligence agencies overwhelmingly believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and few members of Congress from either party were skeptical about this belief before the war began in 2003. Indeed, top lawmakers in both parties were emphatic and certain in their public statements.
But Bush and his aides had access to much more voluminous intelligence information than did lawmakers, who were dependent on the administration to provide the material.
Investigation into uses of intelligence: Hadley, briefing reporters Thursday, countered the notion that somehow this administration manipulated the intelligence. He said that those people who have looked at that issue, some committees on the Hill in Congress, and also the Silberman-Robb Commission, have concluded it did not happen.
But the only committee investigating the matter in Congress, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has not yet done its inquiry into whether officials mischaracterized intelligence by omitting caveats and dissenting opinions.
And the commissions cited by officials, though concluding that the administration did not pressure intelligence analysts to change their conclusions, were not authorized to determine whether the administration exaggerated or distorted those conclusions. Judge Laurence Silberman, chairman of Bushs commission on weapons of mass destruction, said in releasing his report on March 31, 2005, Our executive order did not direct us to deal with the use of intelligence by policymakers, and all of us were agreed that that was not part of our inquiry.
Bush, in Pennsylvania on Friday, still implied that it had been proved that the administration did not manipulate intelligence, saying those who suggest the administration manipulated the intelligence are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence communitys judgments.
Congressional knowledge: In the same speech, Bush asserted that more than 100 Democrats in the House and the Senate, who had access to the same intelligence, voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power. Giving a preview of Bushs speech, Hadley had said that we all looked at the same intelligence.
But Bush does not share his most sensitive intelligence, such as the Presidents Daily Brief, with lawmakers. Also the National Intelligence Estimate summarizing the intelligence communitys views about the threat from Iraq was given to Congress just days before the vote to authorize the use of force.
In addition, there were doubts within the intelligence community not included in the NIE. And even the doubts expressed in the NIE could not be used publicly by members of Congress because the classified information had not been cleared for release. For example, the NIE view that Saddam would not use weapons of mass destruction against the United States or turn them over to terrorists unless backed into a corner was cleared for public use only a day before the Senate vote.
The lawmakers are partly to blame for their ignorance. Congress was entitled to view the 92-page NIE about Iraq before the October 2002 vote. But, as The Washington Post reported last year, no more than six senators and a handful of House members read beyond the five-page executive summary.
Even within the Bush administration, not everybody consistently viewed Iraq as what Hadley called an enormous threat. In a news conference in February 2001 in Egypt, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell said of the economic sanctions against Saddams Iraq: Frankly, they have worked. He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction.
Congressional approval: Bush, in his speech Friday, asserted: When I made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, Congress approved it with strong bipartisan support.
The October 2002 joint resolution authorized the use of force in Iraq, but it did not directly mention the removal of Saddam from power. The resolution voiced support for diplomatic efforts to enforce all relevant Security Council resolutions, and for using the armed forces to enforce the resolutions and defend against the continuing threat posed by Iraq.
EXCERPTS FROM BUSHS SPEECH
One of the hallmarks of a free society and what makes our country strong is that our political leaders can discuss their differences openly, even in times of war. I also recognize that some of our fellow citizens and elected officials didnt support the liberation of Iraq. And that is their right, and I respect it.
While its perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began. Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein. They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction. And many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: When I vote to give the president of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security.
These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning Americas will. As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them.
A SAMPLE OF RESPONSES
Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.): He said Bush is using Veterans Day as a campaign-like attempt to rebuild his own credibility by tearing down those who seek the truth about the clear manipulation of intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war.
White House press secretary Scott McClellan: It is regrettable that Senator Kennedy has found more time to say negative things about President Bush then he ever did about Saddam Hussein. If America were to follow Senator Kennedys foreign policy, Saddam Hussein would not only still be in power, he would be oppressing and occupying Kuwait.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.): While the Bush administration continues to stonewall the Congress from finding the truth about the manipulation of prewar intelligence, Democrats will continue to press for a full airing of the facts.
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.): He said the administration is cherry-picking intelligence and stretching the truth beyond recognition.
Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.): He criticized how the war has been presented to Americans both by the media and the White House. Santorum said the war has been less than optimal and maybe some blame could be laid at the White House. Certainly, mistakes were made.
--The Washington Post and Margaret Talev of the News Tribunes Washington bureau contributed to this report.