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As I See It

April Fools’ Day 2004 is a good time to look back over the past year and a half and reflect on how we have been taken for fools by the Bush Administration.

In September 2002, President Bush started beating the drum for a war against Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein, claiming he was an imminent threat to the world because of his stockpile of weapons of mass destruction and his close ties with al-Qaida, which had destroyed the World Trade Center a year earlier. Since then both of these claims have been disproven.

No weapons of mass destruction have been found, nor is there any evidence that any existed when we invaded Iraq a year ago. The administration has used the excuse that poor intelligence was to blame.

Just recently it has been disclosed that many of the intelligence reports that supported Bush’s WMD claims were being supplied by Ahmed Chalahi, an Iraqi exile in this country who had designs on returning to Iraq to take over the government, and in order to do that needed Saddam out of the way.

It has also been disclosed that the informants from whom he got the “intelligence” he was passing along were being paid for reports which supported the WMD claims.

Either our intelligence agencies were so naive that they were taken in by these reports supplied by an Iraqi whose personal ambitions they served, or they were happy to have reports that “substantiated” the administration’s false claims.

Regarding the claimed link between Saddam and al-Qaida, it was generally known that no such link existed because Osama bin Laden had nothing but contempt for Saddam, and was getting all the financing he needed from our “good friend” Saudi Arabia.

In his recently published book, “Against All Enemies,” Richard Clarke, former top counter-terrorism advisor to Presidents Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton, and Bush 2, says that despite numerous reports filed by his agency to the effect that there was no evidence of any link between Saddam and al-Qaida, he kept getting requests from the White House to look some more.

Clarke further noted that Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were much more enthusiastic about attacking Iraq than in pursuing al-Qaida, and that National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice didn’t seem much interested in the possibility of an al-Qaida attack on U.S. soil.

With there proving to be no validity to either of the reasons for invading Iraq put forth by the Bush administration, they fell back on the fact that Saddam’s was an oppressive regime which had brutalized its people for decades. This was a claim that was 100 percent true.

But why was that a reason for picking Iraq, when there are at least a dozen other brutal dictators who are staying in power by torture and murder of their people?

South Korea and Iran, both of whom are on Bush’s axis of evil, and are nuclear threats, immediately come to mind. In addition there are Myanmar (Burma), and at least half a dozen African dictatorships.

And speaking of al-Qaida, anyone who believes we have weakened this group and are therefore winning the war on terrorism is fooling himself.

Our diversion from the war on the real terrorists by starting a war in Iraq has only provided them with easy opportunities to kill Americans over there and handed them a cause to attract thousands of new volunteers for their suicide bombings throughout the world.

I am deeply concerned that the bombing of the commuter railroad in Madrid that killed over 200, and possibly changed the outcome of the Spanish election, is only the beginning.

If our government is fooling itself, we are being governed by fools, and if we allow our government to fool us then we are the fools. Either way, the road ahead will be full of land mines.

Glenwood Springs resident Hal Sundin’s column runs every other Thursday in the Post Independent.


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