Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Leaving As He Arrived: On A Lie And A Prayer

George Bush is leaving the White House the same way he entered: On a lie and a prayer.

He took office on a lie that he won the 2000 election and a prayer no one would object. Now that he’s finally – finally! – leaving, Bush is lying about his disastrous presidency and praying no one will remember the truth as he gives a series of fawning, “Hey There, Georgie Boy!” exit interviews, the first with ABC’s Charley Gibson.

Bush tells Gibson that he “regrets” the intelligence on Iraq WMDs was “faulty,” never mentioning two key facts. First, Dick Cheney spent weeks at CIA headquarters, browbeating analysts to overlook any inconvenient unreality about a lack of nuclear or chemical weapons in Iraq. Then, Bush gave two speeches “confirming” WMDs and Iraq’s A-bomb desires using information from a source the CIA already knew was phoney.

What utter nonsense.

After the Iraq invasion, a source I’ve known for years told me for a story I broke in April, 2005, on how the White House had been cooking the intelligence books (LINK: since well before 9/11. Prior to retiring, the man, who insisted his name not be used, had been a CIA station chief in several Middle Eastern and European countries as well as a ranking officer at Langley between foreign postings.

“On Sunday, Vice President Cheney is on all of the network news shows going on and on about how we – meaning the intelligence community and The White House – know that Iraq is hiding WMDs and probably nuclear weapons,”

“Then, on Monday, Cheney shows up at (CIA) headquarters where he has an office set up for him and is briefed by senior analysts and (former CIA director) George Tenet and who knows who else. No one ever says a word about it, no one has to, but everyone in the room knows damn well what the Vice President wants to hear,” he adds.

“I’ve been told by people who were present at some of those briefings,” the source explained to me in early 2005, “that when Cheney was given reports that argued against the existence of WMDs, or was shown UN intelligence saying that WMDs had been destroyed years earlier, he discounted the analysts. And not in a polite way. Well, nobody wants to have the Vice President of the United States swear at them twice.”

Yes, there was faulty intelligence before Iraq but there were tons of valid intelligence from reliable, human sources as well as UN officials including Mohammad Al-Baradi'i and his nuclear energy agency inspectors such as Scott Ritter who kept shouting “Oh, no, there isn’t” to an empty room.

Delusional And Disgraceful

So it was with every other bit of his reign of error, none of which Bush bothered discussing in anything but a delusional and disgraceful way.

Afghanistan, which is in worse shape than before the US invaded. Iraq, a country ruined by the wilful invasion by America. Katrina, where there are still people living in FEMA trailers and others who’ve never received any help whatsoever. No Child Left Behind, a terrific idea when Sen. Ted Kennedy proposed it to the president that turned sour when Bush refused to fund it. The un-Patriot Act, which Bush jammed down Congressional throats in the dark of night and decimated the Constitution. The world’s financial collapse for which Bush can take credit thanks to his administration’s congenital belief that inherently greedy people won’t act greedily. The list goes on, like a discordant grade school recital that never ends.

Exactly how did President Bush, the putative leader of the free world and supposedly the most powerful man on earth, while away the past eight years?

"I've forgot the name of the program," he told a CNBC interviewer, "but you get the satellite and I kinda like to look at the ranch. It reminds me of where I wanna be sometimes."

That’s right: He wandered around on Google Earth from the safety of the White House solarium way up on the third floor and directly below the snipers who always patrol the rooftop, wistfully looking at the green, green grass of home.

I wonder how many of the brave soldiers, sailors and airmen have been able to do the same thing from their tents in Iraq or their forward fire bases in Afghanistan? I wonder how many of the 4,000-plus who died and tens of thousands whose bodies and minds were permanently scarred by George’s Great Adventure were able to do so before, pardon the expression, buying the ranch? I wonder if Bush ever understood how telling that comment is about his entire eight years in office?

I wonder how many Iraqi’s have the time to even think about what their homes were like before the invasion because, now, they’re too consumed trying to find work, food, clean water and hoping the electricity will be on for more than a few hours today.

A- Wishin’ And A-Hopin’

When I was a mere barefoot boy with cheek, there was a song that went something like, “I keep a wishin’ and a hopin’ and a hopin’ and a wishin’ …”

Every morning when I wake up, I keep wishing and hoping that it is the afternoon of Jan. 20, 2009. Barack and Michelle Obama are watching the inaugural parade, Dick Cheney is being driven to his Maryland seaside home and George Bush is somewhere over Tennessee aboard US26000 – the plane’s call sign is Air Force One only when the president is on board, and by that time he won’t be – on his way to Texas.

It may take several years for Obama appointees to pour through all of the secret papers, Executive Orders, commands and decisions Bush and Cheney made that brought the entire idea of the United States of America to its knees. And who knows how long they’ll need to reverse all of the horrendous damage done to all of us by the Bush administration?

Bush says he looks at his ranch on Google Earth because it’s “where I wanna be.” Too bad he ever left the place.

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