In a comment to my latest post on media bias, a critic of this blog listed several of the president’s alleged ‘lies’ and in the process, managed to misrepresent much of what the president actually said. (As do many who accuse him of lying.) So often do leftists accuse the president of lying that the expression “Bush lied” has practically become the mantra of the moveon.org crowd. A google search of the expression yields well over 200,000 hits.
While leftists have accused the president of lying on multiple topics, they have focused on the statements the president made–before the liberation of Iraq–about that nation’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). To be sure, while, after Iraq’s liberation, U.S. troops and others have found numerous items, including missiles in Iraq that the Hussein had been obligated to destroy, they did not find large stockpiles of WMD. Because of that absence, the president’s critics call him a liar.
For the president to be a liar, he would have had to knowingly deceive the American people–indeed the people of the world–for he laid out his claims about Iraq in a speech to the United Nations on September 12, 2002. At the time, our troops had not yet entered Iraq while that nation’s then-tyrant wasn’t allowing United Nations inspectors in. We couldn’t fully determine wheher Iraq was living up to his obligations under 1991 Gulf War ceasefire as well as under various United Nations resolutions. (We do know that it was violating its obligations to let inspectors in — and to provide detailed reports of its weapons’ programs.) The president based his assessment on the best intelligence available at the time.
What we have learned since then that our intelligence was flawed. Nonetheless, just prior to the liberation of Iraq, the intelligence services of all the major Western powers–even those who did not join the coalition–indicated that Saddam had WMD. And the president was careful in his September 12 speech to indicate the sources of his allegations: “U.N. inspectors believe . . . . United Nations’ inspections also revealed that Iraq likely. . . .” He also noted Iraq continues to withhold important information about its nuclear program.”
The Robb-Silberman Commission (Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction) found that neither the president nor members of his administration doctored the intelligence reports on Iraq, thus, showing that he did not intentionally deceive. A lie requires such intent. Dictionary.com offers several definitions of the verb, “‘to lie:’ 1. A false statement deliberately presented as being true; a falsehood. 2. Something meant to deceive or give a wrong impression.” What it clear from these definitions is the intent of the alleged liar.
For the president to have lied, he would have had to deliberately misrepresent something, intending to deceive. Since we know that the president (and the Administration) based his claims on the best intelligence available at the time, we know that he was not lying. (Thus, the key issue for those legitimately concerned with our national security is that we have since learned that our intelligence was flawed–and we need to know why.)
In my previous post, I noted that a new biography claims that Jimi Hendrix “pretended to be gay” in order to be discharged from the Army. Yet, “Hendrix’s legendary appetite for women negates the notion that he might have been gay.” Since Hendrix deliberately misrepresented his sexuality to the Army (so he could be discharged to play music), he lied to them.
The left has become obsessed with the notion that President Bush lied to the American people when he made the case for liberating Iraq. They have, however, provided no evidence to show that the president intended to deceive. That’s because they assume that they know better. He had to have lied, they claim, because he’s a horrible, no good, very bad warmonger who has no concern for human life as he works to secure increased profits for his buddies in the oil industry.
Perhaps OpinionJournal’s James Taranto got it right when he wrote earlier today that “the Angry Left is unappeasable.” Numerous reports have shown that the president was acting on the best intelligence available to him at the time. But, Bush-haters won’t let facts get in the way of their image of the president. Their hatred of him has become an unshakable as religious dogma. They endlessly repeat their mantra, “Bush lied,” as if that mere repetition will make it so. But, it won’t make it so.
Their repitition of this mantra merely shows that these leftists are more interested in maligning the president than in putting forward positive policies to address our nation’s problems. And that they would rather misrepresent his record — and besmirch his character — than consider the real meaning of flawed intelligence as we comfort a global terrorist threat.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com
UPDATE–Sometimes, my critics get it right. In his comment, Reader noted that I was incorrect to say that the “U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on prewar intelligence confirmed that neither the president nor members of his administration doctored the intelligence reports on Iraq, thus, showing that he did not intentionally deceive.” After a bit of research, I realized that, in the original draft of this post, I had referred to the wrong report on prewar intelligence. I have since corrected the text to refer to the Robb-Silberman Commission (Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction) which reached the conclusion which I incorrectly attributed to the Senate Intelligence Committee. That commission (and not the Senate Intelligence Committee “found no evidence of political pressure” to alter intelligence findings. That panel unanimously found that: “Analysts universally asserted that in no instance did political pressure cause them to skew or alter their analytical judgments.”
I apologize for my error and appreciate the good efforts of readers for keeping me on my toes.