Thursday, June 19, 2003

The Truth is Out There, But No One Cares

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the Bush administration built support for the second Gulf War on a foundation of half truths, myths and outright lies. The problem is that no one seems to care.

The Washington Post reports that much of the initial information released about POW Jessica Lynch was false (she did not hold off attackers until her amunition ran out, she was neither shot nor stabbed, there is little evidence that she was mistreated while in Iraqi custody). Clearly, in times of war communication can be garbled and mistakes can be made. However, those in the Bush Administration who originally used these stories to bolster support for the war have made little attempt to debunk them now that it has become obvious that they are false.

Let me make one thing clear: Jessica Lynch is a hero, as much as any member of our volunteer armed forces. She was injured in the course of performing her duty, she was captured by enemy forces, and she did what she had to do to survive and return home. She does not need embellished stories or a dramatic rescue to make her a hero; she is a hero by virtue of her sacrifices for her nation. She most emphatically does not need to be described in the terms that are commonly being used in the American media, such as the Post's description of her as "blond and waiflike." This language diminishes a capable soldier to a damsel in distress. Can you imagine a male POW being described as "brunette and childlike"?

"'Jessica Lynch, we're the United States soldiers and we're here to protect you and take you home,' a Special Forces soldier called out, according to Air Force Maj. Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr., who briefed reporters three days later.

'I'm an American soldier, too,' she answered from her hospital bed." Damn straight.

And what about those mysterious weapons of mass destruction? Bush assured us he had it on the best authority that Iraq was an immediate threat to the United States, but we're still waiting for a scrap of evidence to this effect. Meanwhile, a signifcant portion of the American public continues to believe that the Iraqis had weapons of mass destruction, and that they were involved in some way in the events of September 11. From today's Salon (watch the ad, read the article): "Before the Iraq war, a Knight Ridder poll showed that nearly half of Americans surveyed believed, erroneously, that there were Iraqis among the Sept. 11 hijackers. During the war, a Los Angeles Times poll showed that 59 percent of respondents were convinced, despite all available evidence, that Saddam was either partly or mostly responsible for Sept. 11. Now that America's failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq is becoming an increasingly contentious political issue, a third of respondents in a University of Maryland poll believed that the weapons already have been uncovered. A fifth of those polled think Iraq actually used such weapons in the war." Bush may not be directly responsible for all of these misconceptions (although he bears some responsibility for most of them), but he has certainly used them to his advantage, and made no attempt to refute them.

So it appears that Bush lied or, at the very least, misled the American public in order to push us to war with Iraq. Isn't this more significant than the president lying about whether or not he got a blow job? Why doesn't anyone seem to care?


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