Tuesday, May 24, 2005

If It Were Clinton

Imagine for a moment that Bill Clinton was the current occupant of the White House, but all other things were the same. We invaded Iraq, information had been coming out for months that the reasons for the war were suspect, no weapons of mass destruction were found, we continue to lose American troops with no exit strategy, and the war was costing billions of dollars with no end in sight. Finally, a recent report based on verbatim U. S. and British talks in 2002 was released in which the British report that the United States had already decided to invade Iraq and that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” In other words here was the smoking gun which proved that the Administration cooked the intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq What do you think the current Senate would be doing right now: If you said preparing articles of impeachment you would be right!

With W in the White House, however, not only is their no action in the Senate, the U.S. media, with a few exceptions and all of them in print, did not even report the British information. The beaten-down Democrats have barely raised this issue of the U. S. policy of falsifying the intelligence to go to war with a country that not only had no WMD, but was not even implicated in the attacks of 9-11. Why? Well, in the case of the Senate the answer is obvious: The Republicans are not going to impeach one of their own. The reasons for the silent media and the inaction of the Democrats are more complex and in many ways more disturbing.

One would think that the British report would have sparked media frenzy. Yet it was 17 days from the publication on May 1 in the London Sunday Times before the existence of the memo was mentioned on the front page of an American newspaper-the Chicago Tribune. A few other papers reported on the memo but buried articles about it on the back pages. The New York Times reported the story but emphasized the British decision to go to war by early 2002 and almost ignored the most explosive part of the report: that the intelligence on Iraq had been falsified.

The media may be suffering from fatigue over the whole issue. After months and months of reporting on this issue the media may have concluded that it has done its job. Any further reporting would not be productive or even well received by an American public that has already made up its mind one way or the other about the Administration’s veracity about the reasons for the Iraq war. The media may have concluded that the energy and time required to dig deeply into what may be regarded as old news is not worth the effort.

The media has also allowed their investigative skills to wither from lack of will and practice. With the Bush Administration’s policy to stone wall questions regarding its actions and policies and to control the reporting as much as possible the media has no where to go. It seems as though it has forgotten how to uncover those second and third level sources which can be crucial to finding the truth.

With exception of John Conyers and 88 other members of the U. S House of Representatives who wrote the White House asking about the British memo, the Democrats have passed on this issue. This seems to be in keeping with the party’s decision not to make it an issue during the recent presidential campaign during which John Kerry hardly mentioned it. In the Senate, Jay Rockefeller agreed to postpone an investigation into the political use of Iraq intelligence until after the November elections. He also let Sen. Pat Roberts renege on a promise to investigate this issue. With leadership like this don’t expect any action from the Senate!

For a democracy to function well it must have a vigilant media and an opposition party willing to oppose unwise or even corrupt policies of the party in power: We seem to have neither. Only the internet and the bloggers have kept this story alive and unless someone in a position to taker action acts, I fear nothing will come of it. A President who lied about everything to do with the invasion of Iraq will not suffer the just consequences of his illegal actions: Impeachment and removal from office.