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Tuesday, July 15, 2003
Talking only about what they want to talk about
I stand in awe of the shameless way members of the Bush Administration refuse to talk about anything other than their slogans. Yesterday, for example, President George W. Bush was involved in the following Q&A:
Q Mr. President, thank you. On Iraq, what steps are being taken to ensure that questionable information, like the Africa uranium material, doesn't come to your desk and wind up in your speeches?And then later:
Q Mr. President, back on the question of Iraq, and that specific line that has been in question --Is it really beneath Bush to answer questions? To let someone finish a question? It appears that way and if it is, I suggest that he just be honest about it and stop responding to questions. It would save everybody a lot of time and make his attitude clear for all to see. And it might cut down on his administration's dishonesty since even here he is incorrect about Saddam not letting inspectors into Iraq.
What Bush is doing here is confusing several issues. There are legitimate questions about U.S. intelligence knew and/or knows on matters such as the whereabouts of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, Iraq's ties to terrorist groups, who is currently attacking U.S. troops in Iraq on a regular basis and Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction and related programs. (Bush may reason to believe that such intelligence was "darn good," but such information hasn't been made public.) And then there are questions about whether or not the Bush Administration was dishonest in their public presentations on Iraq with regard to Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction and related programs. Assuming the Bush Administration was dishonest, and I think it is clear they were in more than one way, they could have been dishonest about correct intelligence and they could have been dishonest about incorrect intelligence. Of course, Bush's we-were-right response is a non-answer. Operation Iraqi Freedom might have been the greatest military action ever but that doesn't mean that dishonesty or bad intelligence might not have been used to support the action.
New White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan looks like he is going to be a frequent practioner of his boss' non-answers if his first press conference is any indication. To quote all of the examples would likely mean quoting at least half of the press conference, but I thought this example was particularly funny:
Q Two quick questions, one on Iraq. When the President said of Saddam Hussein, we gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in and he wouldn't let them in, why didn't he say that, when the inspectors went into Iraq?No answer was given.
In light of the controversy, this June 12 Reuters story by Jim Wolf is interesting:
The CIA rejected any blame on Thursday for the use of a faulty intelligence report by President Bush as he built his case for war against Iraq.So was the CIA right on Friday or last month?