Greeting and welcome to another Monday of Sunrise Santa Cruz. I don’t like to get too political in this column besides, of course, the daily shots at the current sham of an administration, but this next subject galls me so much that I just couldn’t let it go by without sharing it with you out there in cyberspace.
A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations found that President Bush and top administration officials issued hundreds of false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks. The study concluded that the statements “were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses. In other words, or in these exact words, the face of evil named Saddam Hussein never possessed any weapons of mass destruction.
The study was posted in late January on the Web site of the Center for Public Integrity, which worked with the Fund for Independence in Journalism. White House spokesman Scott Stanzel did not comment on the study but reiterated the administration’s position that the world community viewed the Iraq’s leader, Saddam Hussein, as a threat. “The actions taken in 2003 were based on the collective judgement of intelligence agencies around the world,” Stanzel said. So beam me up, Scotty, but I think you’re using the term ‘intelligence” rather loosely.
The study counted 935 false statements in the two-year period. It found that in speeches, briefings, interviews and other venues, Bush and administration officials stated unequivocally on at least 532 occasions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to produce or obtain them, or had links to al Qaeda, or both.
An overview of the study stated “It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction or have any meaningful ties to al Qaeda. In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003.” So how many billions of dollars have been wasted, how many families ripped apart and how many nations have we angered and turned against us with this invasion that never should have taken place?
The website focused on 380,000 words spoken by Bush and his top advisers. George W. led with 259 false statements. Liar, liar, pants on fire. Runner-up Colin Powell took the silver with 244 statements of falsehood. “The cumulative effect of the false statements-amplified by thousands of news stories and broadcasts was massive, with the media creating an almost impenetrable din for several critical months in the run-up to the war,” the study concluded. “Some journalists, indeed some entire news organizations have since acknowledged that their coverage during the prewar months was far too deferential and uncritical. These mea culpas not withstanding, much of the wall-to-wall media coverage provided additional ‘independent’ validation of the Bush administration’s false statements about Iraq.” So the bottom line is the media bought and sold this bogus war for the administration so as not to seem unpatriotic in a time of fear of another terrorist attack.
People can go to this website for the Center for Public Integrity (www.publicintegrity.org) to check out this study. Muckrakers may find browsing the site reminiscent of what Richard Nixon used to dismissively call “wallowing in Watergate.” Here’s the bottom line. Let me paraphrase talk show host Bill Maher from his Friday night show on HBO (it’s not TV, it’s HBO.) “For those of you who want to defend George Bush going into Iraq, here are some stories that have been in the news lately. A week ago a report came out that the U.S. is completely unready to repel an attack on the U.S. because 88% of our National Guard and Reserves are unprepared to fight.” Hmm, wonder where those troops that are prepared are?
“Donors from military families are sending their money to the campaigns of Ron Paul and Barack Obama, the two candidates who want to get us out of Iraq the quickest. The Director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell, says al Qaeda is better able to hit the U.S., as it is gaining strength from its refuge in Pakistan. Bin Laden and Zawahiri remain in control of this terrorist group and they’ve recruited a new generation of lieutenants, including westerners and most likely Americans. Isn’t this what the Democrats have been saying? We took our eye off the ball and went in to a place that didn’t attack us and now the place that always was the problem (Afghanistan) is stronger than ever and ready to attack us again.” Remember, the statement about al Qaeda is a direct quote of the Director of National Intelligence.
This is a scary proposition and a long way from “Mission Accomplished.” This has been tragic mistake of a war from the start that has killed and wounded so many and divided the country for no honest reason.
Now on to something a little more peaceful. Our photo segment today features some cloud and bird action from above Four Mile Beach but we begin with some timely sand art from down at Its Beach. We then move on to the railroad tracks before hitting the beach. The last shot is this same cloud cover further up the coast along Highway 1 at Scott’s Creek. There was a beautiful sunrise over the Pacific this morning that we’ll check out down the road. Remember, brighter days are ahead. It’s always darkest before you turn on the light. Enjoy the clouds.