So desperate are Democrats — and some of their allies in the MSM — to prove their pet theory that “Bush Lied!” in pushing to liberate Iraq from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein than they will seize on anything substantiate this unsubstantiated theory.
No wonder they were so eager to embrace the now-discredited Joe Wilson. That one-time Kerry campaign aide claimed to have actual evidence that the president mislead the American people, claiming Bush had seen his report discrediting the famous sixteen words of his 2003 State of the Union address, “The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”
But, it was Wilson who would be discredited. If anything, his report lent credence to those sixteen words. Last week, the news media and the left were practically giddy about a report from the Pentagon’s inspector general suggesting that in the run-up to the Iraq war, then-undersecretary of defense Douglas J. Feith drew “inappropriate” conclusions. But, the report also found that Feith (and his team) had done “nothing illegal or unauthorized.”* Still, in covering this story, The Washington Post relied as much on a partisan report as it had on the document itself, a fact the paper acknowledged in a correction to the article:
References to Feith’s office producing “reporting of dubious quality or reliability” and that the office “was predisposed to finding a significant relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda” were from a report issued by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) in Oct. 2004. Similarly, the quotes stating that Feith’s office drew on “both reliable and unreliable reporting” to produce a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq “that was much stronger than that assessed by the IC [Intelligence Community] and more in accord with the policy views of senior officials in the Administration” were also from Levin’s report.
It’s an interesting serendipity that the MSM makes much of this report at the same time as the trial of Scooter Libby. Some on the left are still holding out hope that that trial would produce some evidence (not uncovered in an extensive investigation) that Administration officials were engaged in a conspiracy to destroy Wilson because he had shown that Bush lied.
Neither Wilson’s report nor the IG’s provide any credence to the Left’s much vaunted notion that Bush lied. Feith offered a conclusion with which the IG disagreed. But, he did not lie. And his was only one of many reports the Administration put out in making its case for the Iraq war.
The president has made many mistakes since we first liberated Iraq. He should have reconsidered our strategy shortly after terrorists bombed the Golden Mosque last year. And he should more regularly make the case for victory in Iraq, putting it in the context (as he has in recent days) of the War on Terror.
But, while he has made mistakes, he has never misled the American people. If the Democrats, left-wing bloggers and pundits and even some in the MSM want to show he lied, they need to provide evidence that when he made the case for going to war, he said (or claimed in written reports) things which at the time he knew to be false. And they have yet to do that.
In their end, their claim that Bush lied is just empty — and angry — rhetoric.
*Hugh Hewitt offers a great summary of the report, “The IG report in fact rejects the charges of unlawful, unauthorized or misleading before offering up a fig leaf top critics of the DoD in the form of the “inappropriate” conclusion, which is itself an inappropriate exercise of IG authority as there is no definition to the term.”