in Prison, Not on TV
By William Rivers Pitt
I wrote my first article on the folly of an Iraq
invasion in August of 2002. There are no weapons of
mass destruction in Iraq, I argued. There are no
9/11 connections in Iraq. There is no al Qaeda
presence in Iraq, because Saddam Hussein was
notorious for hanging Wahabbists from the nearest
available light pole. An invasion would tear the
country apart, explode sectarian tensions, and
plunge the region into chaos.
nor the world knew at that time that George W. Bush
and Tony Blair had decided four months earlier that the
deal was going down no matter what. Neither I
nor the world knew at that time that a decision had
been made one month earlier to ensure that "intelligence
and facts" would be "fixed around the policy" of
invasion. I stayed on the no-invasion beat for
the next seven months, writing dozens of articles
and a book, as the world watched millions of people
take to the streets in an attempt to stop something
that was, as it turns out, inevitable.
Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle,
Doug Feith, Condoleeza Rice, and of course, George
W. Bush, piled the sandbags high and deep around a
decision that had already been made. We know they
have these weapons, we know where they are, we don't
want the evidence to be a mushroom cloud, plastic
sheeting and duct tape, 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11 9/11.
Save for 23 bold souls, a craven Senate caved to the
pressure and delivered the Iraq War Resolution to
the Bush administration, and in late March of 2003,
the skies over Baghdad glowed orange as the city was
turned into a bowl of molten fire.
As the WMD
argument fell to ashes, I kept writing. As the
9/11-connection argument collapsed, I kept
writing...and then, first in a trickle and then a
flood, people started writing me. Mothers, fathers,
brothers and sisters of American soldiers who had
died in Iraq wrote me letter after letter, email
after email, demanding answers. Why? Why did this
happen? Why did my loved one die over there?
see, I didn't have the heart to tell them, this is
about election-year politics, as Karl Rove
demonstrated in 2002 when he told Republicans facing
midterm elections to "Run on the war." This is about
an enormous payday for the oil industry, the arms
industry, and Dick Cheney's friends. This is about
the fever dream of a pack of neo-conservatives from
think tanks like the Project for a New American
Century, who believed that just because they want
something really bad, and have the lives of soldiers
to play with like pawns, meant it would happen just
as they planned it.
years later, the worst tidings from those of us who
saw this coming have arrived. I am sure you've been
watching the news, and others have taken the time
exactly what is unfolding in Iraq. Syria has
become a major factor in the situation, also because
of the Iraq invasion of 2003: as that war grew
larger and more ferocious, millions of refugees
poured over the border into Syria and destabilized
the country. The current civil war in Syria, which
has become umbilically connected to the events in
Iraq, owes its roots to no small degree to the Bush
administration's decision to invade Iraq eleven
regime is begging the Obama administration to
deliver airstrikes in order to slow the advance of
ISIS troops as they draw nearer and nearer to
Baghdad. Several large cities have fallen into ISIS
hands. Iran has sent Quds soldiers to help defend
Baghdad, 275 American soldiers have been deployed to
defend our massive Iraq embassy, and the USS George
H. W. Bush has steamed into the Gulf.
And I have
never, ever been angrier in my life.
the fact that I and so very many others spent so
much time and energy for so many years trying to
stop all this from happening. Never mind the fact
that the perpetrators of this enormous fraud, this
smash-and-grab robbery, this looting of the
Treasury, this act of first-degree murder on a
massive scale, all walked away scot-free to pursue
new careers and live lives of comfort. Amazingly
enough, that's not the worst part.
part is that they're
all on my television again, trying to blame
President Obama for the circumstances created by
their own feckless, murderous decisions.
"We have to liberate ourselves from the notion that
'we' have caused this. We haven't."
Wolfowitz: "Look, it's a complicated situation in
which you don't just come up with, 'We're going to
bomb this, we're going to do that.'"
"This is the education of Barack Obama, but it's
coming at a very high cost to the Syrian people to
the Iraqi people [and] to the American national
McCain: "What about the fact that General Petraeus
had the conflict won thanks to the Surge and if we
had left a residual force behind that we could have
- we could, we would not be facing the crisis we are
when asked about the fact that no weapons of mass
destruction were found in Iraq: "Yeah, that's an old
argument that we waste time on."
Cheney: "He (Obama) abandoned Iraq and we are
watching American defeat snatched from the jaws of
no? And just as it was eleven years ago, the
facts have no bearing on the duck-and-cover
these scumbags are deploying:
little history on the SOFA: It was being
negotiated after the surge had quelled daily
violence to a considerable degree. But even so,
more than 100,000 Iraqis had been killed,
millions had been displaced or left their
country, basic services in most cities were
plenty iffy, and so on. Iraqis all of sects were
desperate for the Americans to leave. So they
negotiated a timeline that many Bushies thought
too tight, but the pressure on the Iraqis was
enormous to get the United States out. Iraqi
negotiators insisted on more than 100 changes to
the document. From Bush's end, he basically had
to take what the Iraqis gave him, because if he
didn't negotiate the 2012 deadline, all U.S.
forces would had to have been gone by the end of
2008. That would have been a highly precipitous
withdrawal and would have looked suspiciously
like defeat. I'm so glad we had a "tough"
other words, the timetable here was Bush's, not
Obama's. Should Obama have stuck to the
negotiated timetable? Maybe not. But the Maliki
government wasn't exactly eager for a
renegotiation. Neither were the American people.
Sure, Obama wanted to be able to campaign in
2012 saying he'd gotten our forces out. But a
renegotiation of the SOFA to keep up to 30,000
U.S. troops in Iraq for a longer period would
have been extremely difficult politically, more
so in Iraq than in the United States. And of
course it goes without saying, although I'll say
it, that if Obama had negotiated such an
agreement, John McCain and Boehner and Mitt
Romney, instead of attacking Obama for keeping
too few forces, would have attacked him for
keeping too many.
fine to give Obama some of the blame for the
current Iraq mess. But he's like the guy the
captain of the Titanic turned to when he heard
the scout yell "Iceberg!" and said, "Here, you
take the wheel." It was clear enough back in
December 2008, when Bush negotiated the SOFA,
that we were just ducking and running according
to a politically acceptable timetable that had
nothing to do with the reality on the ground.
Everyone knew that that reality could easily,
indeed would likely, devolve into the sectarian
disaster we see now. And as a side note, let's
not forget the decision by Bush's man Paul
Bremer to disband the Iraqi army. That left a
lot of unemployed officers who, according to
regional expert Fawaz Gerges, went and
Let me put
it plainly: these people do not belong on my
television. They belong in prison, for the crimes of
theft, torture and murder. They shattered the lives
of thousands of American soldiers and millions of
Iraqi civilians. They savaged the American economy
paying for it all, and several of them got very rich
in the process. They should be in orange jumpsuits
and fetters, picking mealworms out of their gruel
while shuttered in very small, very grim, very
inescapable metal rooms.
I spent the
first decade of the 21st century dealing with these
blood-sodden bastards. Now, it appears, I will spend
a chunk of a second decade watching them run around
trying desperately to wash that blood from their
hands...and the "news" media, also thoroughly
culpable in this ongoing debacle, is all too happy
to help them do it.
should be a crime.
William Rivers Pitt is Truthout's senior editor and
lead columnist. He is also a New York Times and
internationally bestselling author of three books: "War
on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know,"
Greatest Sedition Is Silence" and "House
of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and
America's Ravaged Reputation." He lives and
works in New Hampshire.