Were We Duped On The Reasons For The Iraq Conflict?
"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." - President George Bush, State of the Union Address, January 28, 2003.
Sixteen words used by Mr. Bush to help justify the U.S. taking immediate action against Iraq.
Sixteen words supplied by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that are now questionable.
CIA Director George J. Tenet is taking full responsibility for allowing that sentence's inclusion into the speech, saying the information "did not rise to the level of certainty which should be required for presidential speeches and the CIA should have ensured it was removed."
This comes on the heels of accusations that the CIA may have misled the administration in estimates of Hussein's possession of weapons of mass destruction.
These accusations have led to calls for an investigation on Capitol Hill.
The questions surrounding the weapons of mass destruction go so far as to ask whether the administration may have called on - or influenced - the CIA to purposely misrepresent that threat.
Additionally, it was reported in Saturday's Frederick-News Post that President Bush might have overstated the alleged link between Iraq and al-Qaida.
Two former Bush administration intelligence officials say the evidence linking Saddam Hussein to al-Qaida was, "sketchy at best."
Greg Thielmann, a former State Department intelligence official was quoted as saying: "There was no significant pattern of cooperation between Iraq and the al-Qaida organization."
Another former Bush administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, agreed there was no clear link between Hussein and al-Qaida saying, "The relationships that were plotted were episodic, not continuous."
Could it be that the main reasons Mr. Bush gave the public for the maneuver against Iraq were based purely on speculation and conjecture?
Is it not possible that we can question whether the administration may have known the CIA was giving questionable information about Hussein's alleged purchase of uranium, but in turn, only to bolster their claims, chose to allow it to stand?
Is it not possible to question whether the administration, knowingly put forth distorted information about Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction?
Is it not possible to question whether the administration purposely overstated their claims of a link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida?
In light of the recent admissions and accusations, it seems it is possible.
As more and more of this information becomes public, Mr. Bush's support is eroding.
In a Washington Post-ABC News Poll published July 12, President Bush's overall approval rating dropped 9 points in 18 days mirroring a drop in the percentage of those who support his handling of the Iraq situation, which is down to 58 percent.
Fifty-two percent of those surveyed believe there has been an "unacceptable level of U.S. casualties in Iraq - up eight points in less than three weeks.
More troubling to Mr. Bush has to be the numbers that show that 50% of those surveyed said that they believe he intentionally exaggerated evidence suggesting Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
In light of the recent acknowledgement by the CIA (the only thing known for sure is "questionable"), can you blame them?
This military maneuver sharply divided the country.
Many who questioned why the maneuver was needed, or called on the administration to give irrefutable proof as to why the action was necessary, were called "anti-American" at the least.
Will we find out after all that we may have just been duped; that the public was given exaggerated and erroneous information simply to gain support for an action that may indeed been unnecessary?
Wouldn't that be a tragedy for those who lost their lives?
It is time for this administration to be forthright with the information surrounding their reasons for their military maneuvers against Iraq, if only for the honor and memory of those who died in the conflict.