September 27, 2006, 3:10 P.M.
The Truth Will Set Us Free: David Corn and Michael Isikoff have recently published a book, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal and the Selling of the Iraq War. Among other things, the book deals with the Bush administration’s reliance, in part, on fraudulent intelligence to claim that Saddam was attempting to purchase yellowcake uranium from Niger as a basis for invading Iraq. I have not yet read the book, but hope to (as soon as I get through the current backlog on my nightstand). There is, however, a good series of articles on Slate.com about the supposed yellowcake deal.
The first article is by Corn and in it he debunks Christopher Hitchens’ desperate attempts to hold onto the Niger/yellowcake/Saddam myth and the second is Hitchens’ response. Both are worth a read.
Assuming, and I do not, that Hitchens is correct in his suppositions about visits by Iraq’s Vatican ambassador to Niger, there is still no evidence that Wissam al-Zahawie was looking to make a yellowcake deal. The facts simply weigh against it. Furthermore, the Bush administration had evidence to suggest that the allegation was false at the time that Bush gave his January 28, 2003 State of the Union speech.
The language of the speech itself does not square with Hitchens’ theory. Bush did not say “we think the Iraqis have been sniffing around after yellowcake.” His remarks were far more specific. He said that Iraq had “sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” That statement is based on the forged documents discredited by the CIA before the speech, not on the itinerary of al-Zahawie.
This irrational, almost maniacal defense of the administration and the invasion of Iraq is curious and disturbing. There is little evidence to suggest that our invasion of, and continued presence in, Iraq is doing anything to make the world a safer place. In fact, the invasion has served to further inflame anti-American, and by extension, anti-western sentiments. The April 2006 National Intelligence Estimate (bits of which have recently been declassified) suggests that we are more threatened by radical terrorist organizations than ever before. Indeed, our “efforts” in Iraq seem to be breeding hatred among new generations in the middle east and elsewhere.
There is no moral high ground for the U.S. in the middle east. Our presence there is entirely based in self-interest, anyway you look at it. If you buy the line that it is in our national best interest to invade Iraq, unseat its government and impose our will upon the disparate groups in the country in an attempt to impose our will on them, you need to consider that our efforts have met with no success. There are parts of the country that we do not control militarily, and the number of suicide bombers and anti-American fighters continues to increase. This ought to point up the fact that we are in a place where we are not needed, and where our presence is seen as an insult to the indigenous population.
I can’t see how anyone can argue that this war in Iraq has anything to do with fighting terrorism. Of course, I never could, and neither time nor the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans has done anything to change my opinion. Yet I still hear a chorus of irrational support for this effort. I have heard the President say that we are making progress, but I don’t believe anything he says. There is no objective measure of success and no end in sight. There was not, until now, any connection between the war and any threat to the U.S. The threat comes from our actions. We have created a new wave of anti-Americanism with our new crusade, and we are less secure than ever as a result. The reasons for involving ourselves in Iraq were manufactured, based on forgeries and lies. The truth is, we need to get out now.