TCS Daily

Did Bush Lie? Ask Google

By Bryan Preston - November 14, 2005 12:00 AM

President Bush came out swinging on Veterans Day in a speech accusing his Democratic war critics of re-writing history. Some war critics have mounted a campaign against him by boiling the entire pre-war history and post-invasion violence down to a two-word phrase: "Bush Lied". They say he lied us into war by distorting intelligence about weapons of mass destruction to convince Americans to fight an unnecessary war. The "Bush Lied" accusation is, if true, an indictment of the entire war itself, and one could reasonably argue we should cut our losses and get out of it.

The president could have destroyed the entire "Bush Lied" attack a long time ago. And he could have done it in a way that showed what a wired, technologically savvy president he is; and in a way that would have simplified his side of the debate down to three words and a number:   

    Google "Clinton Iraq 1998"  

Google is not just a search engine; it's also something of a wayback machine. It can take us back to the last time prior to 2003 that the United States waged a campaign against Saddam Hussein.  

If you go to Google and run a search using "Clinton Iraq 1998," you will find at the time of this writing 3,010,000 hits. Time stands still for no net surfer, so your mileage may vary slightly. But you won't need all those three million hits anyway. You can just click on the very first one, which will take you to a CNN story dated December 16, 1998 about President Clinton warning Iraq that its failure to comply with UN weapons inspections left him no choice but to attack. And attack he did, launching Operation Desert Fox, which destroyed Iraq's intelligence headquarters and a few other points of concern. President Clinton's reasons for the operation:   

    "Saddam (Hussein) must not be allowed to threaten his neighbors or 
    the world with nuclear arms, poison gas or biological weapons," 
    Clinton said.  

    "Earlier today I ordered America's armed forces to strike military and
    security targets in Iraq. They are joined by British forces," Clinton

    "Their mission is to attack Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological 
    weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten its 
    neighbors," said Clinton.  

For the "Bush Lied" mantra to have any logical or factual force, one must believe that Desert Fox not only destroyed every single WMD Saddam had, but also cowed him sufficiently that he never built a single WMD or lab in the five years that remained of his rule. And that knowing all of this, Bush took us to war anyway. No serious person believes that.  

The third hit that our Google search on "Clinton Iraq 1998" finds is a link to a story about something called the Iraq Liberation Act. What's that? Well, it's a document approved by Congress and signed by the president on October 31, 1998. It set forth as American policy the support of groups opposed to Saddam Hussein and encouraged regime change. It even set aside a few million dollars for the Iraqi National Congress, the group many war critics have accused of duping the Bush administration into believing in WMD that never existed. But if the Bush administration was duped, so was the Clinton administration, since the Iraq Liberation Act has President Clinton's signature on it.  

Seven links into our three million hit cache we find a story with the following quote:   

    "Mr. President, today, along with Senators McCain, Lieberman, 
    Hutchison and twenty-three other Senators, I am sending a letter 
    to the President to express our concern over Iraq's actions and 
    urging the President 'after consulting with Congress, and consistent 
    with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions 
    (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi 
    sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal
    to end its weapons of mass destruction programs.'"  

The letter quoted goes on to detail the many ways Iraq has violated its post-Gulf War obligations to the UN (those violations being among the causes for war in 2003) and the Coalition that liberated Kuwait after the 1990 Iraqi invasion. It was written by Democratic Senator Carl Levin of Michigan. Today Sen. Levin is among those Democrats who publicly accuse President Bush of lying about WMD in order to get the U.S. into war with Iraq.  

If you follow more of the three million links that Googling "Clinton Iraq 1998" find, you'll read Madeline Albright sounding as hawkish on Saddam as Donald Rumsfeld. Albright was Clinton's Secretary of State in 1998. Former Vice President Al Gore's transformation from reasonable hawk to a sort of howling anti-war Gorewolf is particularly disturbing. The Google search string will help you document that transformation. Thanks goodness he invented the internet to make this all possible. 

Find more of Bryan Preston's writing here.

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