Sunday, April 09, 2006

How history will judge President Bush

Leak scandal: Bush’s steady drip of lies
Trevor Royle on how history will judge President Bush
Sunday Herald (Glasgow)

Politicians tend to laugh off old sayings about morality, but they can’t ignore the one about everything eventually coming out in the wash. When the history of President Bush’s Iraq policy is written, the biggest and worst revelations will concern the horrid little lies and half-truths that propelled the US into an unnecessary war and persuaded Tony Blair to follow suit.

Ever since the so-called fighting phase of the military operations came to an end three years ago, there has been a steady drip-drip-drip of evidence to show that most of the assumptions that took us to war were either wrong or simply did not exist. There were no weapons of mass destruction, no links with al-Qaeda and no immediate threat. That’s not to say that Saddam Hussein should not have been deposed, far from it. But there is a world of difference between going to war on the grounds of regime change and on dodgy evidence about non-existent weapons. The first could be proved to be justified, the second most certainly not.

So far Bush has managed to ride out the accusations that he took his country into an illegal war. But there is an intriguing whiff of cordite surrounding the latest scandal to hit the White House – the allegation that Bush secretly authorised the leaking of classified documents to punish a CIA officer whose husband was a vociferous opponent of the war in Iraq. What makes the charge credible is the involvement of Lewis “Scooter” Libby, a trusted member of Team Bush who acted as chief of staff to vice-president Dick Cheney.

Like many of those closest to Bush in Washington, Libby thought he was one of the “untouchables”, a team player who always acted in the President’s best interests. However, he flew too close to the sun and last year was indicted on charges which included perjury and obstruction of justice. When that happened, his earlier training came into play and from the outset he showed that he was no patsy but was going to fight his corner. He let it be known that not only was he uneasy about leaking intelligence material, but also that he was acting specifically on Bush’s orders. If that is true, then it follows that Bush personally ordered the release of top secret papers that outed Valerie Plame as a CIA agent, an offence that makes him culpable under US law.....