Can you smell it, America? That is the smell of justice! Because finally, 12 years after we invaded Iraq and 4 years after we withdrew our forces, the American people is demanding accountability!
Many people have blood on their hands for the war which was based on lies and has claimed an estimated half a million lives and contributed to the rise of ISIS. But so far, one man has been forced to apologize and face the consequences for his unspeakable deeds. That man, whose name I can barely bring myself to type, is... Brian Williams. His admission to the crime of deception and his suffering of punishment bode well for swift justice for other war criminals in high places.
Lie: He was on a Chopper that was hit and forced to land. Until 2008, Brian Williams claimed, in several tellings and with conflicting details, that in 2003, the helicopter in front of the one he was on, was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade fire and forced into an emergency landing. In 2008, Williams changed his story, claiming that it was his helicopter that had been hit and grounded. In 2013, he repeated the claim once again.
Truth: He was on another chopper that didn't get hit. The claim was refuted by the people who were on the chopper which got hit; not only was Williams not on board with them but his his chopper didn't arrive until a half hour to an hour after their emergency landing. In order to appear more daring and heroic, Williams lied to the American people!
Apology: Yes. On his own show on February 4, Williams said, "I don't know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another." He also said he "terrible" about the mistake, and that "I think the constant viewing of the video showing us inspecting the impact area — and the fog of memory over 12 years — made me conflate the two." Williams apologized on his own show “I spent much of the weekend thinking I’d gone crazy. I feel terrible about making this mistake.”
Punishment: Williams has been suspended for 6 months without pay.
Lives Lost: 0
Money spent: 0
Health care effects: 0
Humanitarian Crises: 0
Other: NBC embarrassment
Let’s compare that to a mere sampling of some of the lies of other even more high-profile actors involved in the Iraq War. I apologize in advance for leaving out some of the liars and the lies. The liars I cite are truly prolific and have made invaluable contributions to the 935 lies told by President Bush and his administration during the period leading up to the Iraq War. This is in no way a snub, but done in the interest of saving time.
1. DICK CHENEY
Lie: Saddam Hussein has WMDs. On August 26, 2002, in an address to the national convention of the Veteran of Foreign Wars, Cheney said: "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us."
Truth: CIA Director George Tenet later said Cheney’s claim was not supported by intelligence. A CIA official, referring to Cheney’s claims, told journalist Ron Suskind, “Our reaction was, ‘Where is he getting this stuff from?’”
Apology/ Regrets: No.
Punishment: Re-election as Vice-President of the United States. Frequent appearances on TV.
Lives Lost/ Money spent/ Health care effects/ Poverty/ Humanitarian Crises/ Security/ Other: See end of post.
2. GEORGE BUSH
Lie: Iraq could launch a biological and chemical attack and was seeking a nuclear bomb. In a radio address in September 2002, Bush said: "The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons, is rebuilding the facilities to make more and, according to the British government, could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes after the order is given. . . . This regime is seeking a nuclear bomb, and with fissile material could build one within a year."
Truth: it had been years since Iraq's weapons had been assessed. No recent analysis of Iraq's weapons capabilities had been done. The White House hadn't requested it and the intelligence community hadn't found it necessary.
Punishment: Re-election as President of the United States. Occasional appearances on TV.
3. DONALD RUMSFELD
Lie: Iraq is in cahoots with Al Qaeda Terrorists. When asked in July 2002 if there was a relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda Rumsfeld said, "Sure."
Truth: Not So Sure. The month before, the Defense Intelligence Agency had issues an assessment which found a lack of "compelling evidence demonstrating direct cooperation between the government of Iraq and Al Qaeda." This was in addition to its finding that "the nature of the regime's relationship with Al Qaeda is unclear."
4. CONDOLEEZA RICE
Lie: There was No Warning of 9/11. Testifying before the 9/11 Commission, Rice actually said, "I do not remember any reports to us, a kind of strategic warning, that planes might be used as weapons." She also claimed that there was "nothing about the threat of attack in the U.S." in the Presidential Daily Briefing on August 6th.
Truth: Ye Ole 'Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States' Document. So, Rice couldn't have seen the attack coming despite the fact that she was at the July 2001 G-8 summit in Genoa, where "U.S. officials were warned that Islamic terrorists might attempt to crash an airliner" into the summit, which caused security to"close the airspace over Genoa and station antiaircraft guns at the city’s airport."
And then there's that whole unfortunate Presidential Daily Briefing entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States," thing. But that's kind of indirect.
5. COLIN POWELL
Lie: Our Sources are Impeccable. Speaking in front of United Nations Security Council on February 5, 2003, Powell said: "My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we're giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence. I will cite some examples, and these are from human sources." Powell also claimed that one of the sources was "a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training in these weapons [of mass destruction] to Al Qaeda."
Truth: Our Sources are Totally Unreliable. The two human sources Powell was bragging about were less than stellar. One was called "Curveball." Given that U.S. intelligence officials had never even spoken to him, Powell's statements shocked Tyler Drumheller, the CIA's chief of covert operations in Europe: "My mouth hung open when I saw Colin Powell use information from Curveball... It was like cognitive dissonance. Maybe, I thought, my government has something more. But it scared me deeply." And the operative spilling the beans on Iraq training of Al Qaeda had been previously been described by the CIA as "not in a position to know if any training had taken place."
And here is the tally of the damage their lies caused.
Lives Lost: Estimates range from 190,000 lives to half a million.
Money spent: The Iraq War will cost U.S. taxpayers at least $2.2 trillion by 2053.
Health care effects: Over half of Iraq’s medical doctors left the country during the 2000s, and tens of thousands of Iraqi patients have been forced to seek health care outside the country. Iraqis basic needs in drinking water, food, sanitation and electricity are not met. Hospitals lack basic medical supplies and are understaffed.
Poverty: Unemployment and poverty have increased. According to the United Nations Development Programme, one-third of the population now lives in poverty.
Humanitarian crises: According to UNHCR, there are 1.9 million internally displaced people in the country and 2 million refugees escaped to neighboring countries.
Other: Increased terrorism, increased sectarian and ethnic violence, decrease in education.
Now that we've gone after Brian the biggest kahuna, maybe we can consider frying some of the smaller fish, identified above. And we haven't even touched the media. That's for another post.
I'll leave you with this nice roundup