Damned dirty hippiesBy
We have seen stories lately that Memorial Day originated in 1865 with freed slaves in Charleston, SC. They took it upon themselves to give a proper burial to hundreds of Union soldiers from a prison camp at the Washington Race Course and Jockey Club who had been buried in a mass grave. Whether that event was the inspiration for the national holiday established in 1868 is conjecture. According to Yale historian David W. Blight, the “Martyrs of the Race Course” have since been moved to the National Cemetery at Beaufort, South Carolina. The track is now a park adjacent to the Citadel military college.
I was on the Isle of Palms a few miles east of there on October 7, 2002, watching, the night George W. Bush gave the televised speech in Cincinnati. He threw everything but the kitchen sink at Saddam Hussein in an effort to convince the American people we needed to go to war against Iraq (as the White House had already decided). The well-orchestrated, Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld propaganda effort has been much in the news lately. A decade later, Americans have largely concluded, knowing what we know now, that we, the Bush administration, and a cheerleading national press were misled by bad intelligence.
No, we weren’t. David Corn put it plainly last week: “George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, & Co. were not misled by lousy intelligence; they used lousy intelligence to mislead the public.”
Matt Taibbi mocked the “bad intelligence” argument last week, “It was obvious even back then, to anyone who made the faintest effort to look at the situation honestly, that the invasion was doomed, wrong, and a joke.” What’s more:
Do people not remember this stuff? George Bush got on television on October 7th, 2002 and told the entire country that Saddam Hussein was thinking of using “unmanned aerial vehicles” for “missions targeting the United States.”
Only a handful of news outlets at the time, most of them tiny Internet sites, bothered to point out that such “UAVs” had a range of about 300 miles, while Iraq was 6,000 miles from New York.
What was the plan – Iraqi frogmen swimming poison-filled drones onto Block Island?
It was nuts. It was nuts at the time. What Bush’s “intelligence” lacked in quality he had made up for in quantity. That was obvious. If he had anything solid, he would not have recited a laundry list of conjecture. The intelligence wasn’t just bad. It was a joke. Anyone with a scrap of remove could see it, as Taibbi says. Yet most of the country went along, including our watchdog press. Taibbi concludes:
Now a lot of these same people are green-lighting stories about how wrong Jeb Bush is for not admitting to what is at last obvious, “knowing what we know now.” But forget what we know now. We knew then, but we’re just not admitting it.
For the record, I wrote this to my senators and congressman from that Isle of Palms kitchen the day after the Bush speech in 2002:
“Facing clear evidence of peril,” George W. Bush last night recalled President Kennedy and the Cuban missile crisis. I lived through the Cuban missile crisis, Senator. Those were real missiles, only 90 miles away, and not weapons we worried might be developed, might be intended for us.
Clear evidence of peril? I grew up and lived most of my life under the threat of nuclear annihilation on thirty-minute notice from hundreds of Soviet nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles. We knew – unequivocally – that the Soviets had the bombs and the delivery systems, and that their ICBMs were aimed right at us. This country has never faced a more imminent and direct threat.
Against this backdrop the President would have us shaking in our shoes and supporting immediate preemptive war against a dictator and tyrant who might – if he has a death wish in development, too – threaten the United States from halfway round the world using crop dusters armed with mustard gas?
This is Bush’s “significant threat”? So why do Iraq’s immediate neighbors Saudi Arabia and Turkey – both defended by our military – not support Mr. Bush on this? On Larry King Live last night Sen. John McCain observed that the worst-case scenario from Iraq is Hussein launching a chemical or biological attack against Israel, not against us. Israel faced something like this already. And if Hussein tried it again, the Israelis – if unfettered – would reduce him to a greasy patch, and we would help them do it.
Bush keeps trying unsuccessfully to tie Iraq to 9/11 to gain support for his jihad. Again last night, he was unsuccessful. His reasoning as to why we should act immediately against Iraq? “We’ve experienced the horror of September the 11th.” “Saddam Hussein’s regime gleefully celebrated the terrorist attacks on America.” Because there are bad people out there who don’t like us, and Saddam Hussein is one of them. (And he keeps bad company.) He might be tempted someday to commit illegal acts of violence against us, so we are justified in committing illegal acts of violence against him first. Shoot at anything that goes bump in the night… and ask questions later.
A brilliant foreign policy. It makes me nostalgic for the good old days of 1962.
Let’s let the U.N. authorize legal military action, if it will, before Bush straps on his six guns and sets off on a lynching party. Do not support this Texas vigilante’s putsch.
Damned dirty hippie.
Observe Memorial Day without so much saber rattling, okay?
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)