Elizabeth de la Vega
(Cont'd) The White House Criminal Conspiracy
Tue Nov 28, 2006 21:15

 
The White House Criminal Conspiracy
Elizabeth de la Vega
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20051114/delavega

The October NIE was poorly prepared--and flawed. But it was flawed in favor of the Administration, which took that skewed assessment and misrepresented it further in the only documents that were available to the public. The ninety-page classified NIE was delivered to Congress at 10 pm on October 1, the night before Senate hearings were to begin. But members could look at it only under tight security on-site. They could not take a copy with them for review. They could, however, remove for review a simultaneously released white paper, a glitzy twenty-five-page brochure that purported to be the unclassified summary of the NIE. This document, which was released to the public, became the talking points for war. And it was completely misleading. It mentioned no dissents; it removed qualifiers and even added language to distort the severity of the threat. Several senators requested declassification of the full-length version so they could reveal to the public those dissents and qualifiers and unsubstantiated additions, but their request was denied. Consequently, they could not use many of the specifics from the October NIE to explain their opposition to war without revealing classified information.

The aluminum tubes issue is illustrative. The classified October NIE included the State and Energy departments' dissents about the intended use of the tubes. Yet the declassified white paper mentioned no disagreement. So Bush in his October 7 speech and his 2003 State of the Union address, and Powell speaking to the United Nations February 5, 2003, could claim as "fact" that Iraq was buying aluminum tubes suitable only for centrifuge programs, without fear of contradiction--at least by members of Congress.

Ironically, Bush's key defense against charges of intentional misrepresentation actually incriminates him further. As Bob Woodward reported in his book Plan of Attack, Tenet said that the case for Iraq's possession of nuclear weapons was a "slam dunk" in response to Bush's question, "This is the best we've got?" Obviously, then, Bush himself thought the evidence was weak. But he did not investigate further or correct past misstatements. Instead, knowing that his claims were unsupported, he continued to assert that Iraq posed an urgent threat and was aggressively pursuing nuclear weapons. That is fraud.

It can hardly be disputed, finally, that the Bush Administration's intentional misrepresentations were designed to interfere with the lawful governmental function of Congress. They presented a complex deceit about Iraq to both the public and to Congress in order to manipulate Congress into authorizing foreign action. Legally, it doesn't matter whether anyone was deceived, although many were. The focus is on the perpetrators' state of mind, not that of those they intentionally set about to mislead.

The evidence shows, then, that from early 2002 to at least March 2003, the President and his aides conspired to defraud the United States by intentionally misrepresenting intelligence about Iraq to persuade Congress to authorize force, thereby interfering with Congress's lawful functions of overseeing foreign affairs and making appropriations, all of which violates Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.

To what standards should we hold our government officials? Certainly standards as high as those Bush articulated for corporate officials. Higher, one would think. The President and Vice President and their appointees take an oath to defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States. If they fail to leave their campaign tactics and deceits behind--if they use the Oval Office to trick the public and Congress into supporting a war--we must hold them accountable. It's not a question of politics. It's a question of law.

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11/27/06 INTERVIEW: Elizabeth de la Vega
http://www.apfn.net/pogo/A005I061128ee5.MP3


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