Sunday, June 22, 2003

Sex, lies and American presidents


Anyone observing U.S. politics in recent years could easily conclude that lying about having sex is a serious offence worthy of impeachment, while lying about taking the country to war is hardly worth mentioning.

How else to explain the wildly different treatment accorded to Bill Clinton and George W. Bush?

Now, of course, there are plenty of differences between the two cases. Former president Clinton lied under oath about his under-the-desk encounter with Monica Lewinsky.

Bush's apparent lie — that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction even though his own intelligence agency could find no such evidence and his own army can find no such weapons — was made repeatedly to the American people, but not under oath.

So, does that explain it? Lying to the American people is okay, as long as it's not done under oath?

Of course, Bush did swear an oath upon taking office, vowing to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." Are we to conclude that, even after taking this oath to uphold the fundamental principles of American democracy, it's okay for a president to lie to the American people, as long as he hasn't taken an oath pledging not to lie in this particular case?

Some insist that Bush didn't really lie; he just exaggerated. But his allegations about Iraq's weapons were more than exaggerations.

A crucial document — cited by Bush in his State of the Union address — purported to show that Iraq tried to purchase uranium for nuclear weapons. U.N. weapons inspectors quickly determined the document was a forgery. Did U.S. officials forge the document? If not, why is there so little interest in uncovering who did?

How did the president come to cite a clumsily forged document to Congress? These questions seem at least as crucial as whether Lewinsky had her dress dry-cleaned.


Another possibility is that he lied to conceal the real motives for invading Iraq.

If so, his lying is more deeply worrisome.

Under this scenario, he essentially fabricated the notion that Iraq posed a threat to the U.S. (it didn't, as we saw), in order to disguise motives that Americans might not have considered valid grounds for going to war — like ensuring U.S. companies get control of Iraqi oil, extending U.S. military control in the Middle East, having a war victory under his belt for the next election, proving to his dad that he isn't a wimp after all.


The hypocricy from the right and even the media is sickening.



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