April 19, 2004
The emperor's news conference
By DAVID T. WRIGHT
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I taped George W.'s April 13 news conference but couldn't bring myself to watch it until four days later. It was, in a word, horrifying. (If you're interested in facing all the horror, undiluted, SFGate has posted a transcript.)
I have never seen such a strange mixture of terror and arrogance. Bush was obviously scared: there was a tremor in his voice as he stumbled through his rambling answers interspersed with periods of brain-locked silence to the mostly softball questions served up to him. But there were also elements of shiftiness, furtiveness, and condescension that he was unable to conceal. And the ad-lib answers he gave were, in a word, bizarre:
A secure and free Iraq is an historic opportunity to change the world and make America more secure. A free Iraq in the midst of the Middle East will have incredible change. It's hard. Freedom is not easy to achieve. I mean, we had a little trouble in our own country achieving freedom.
In other words, the imperial forces are fighting the Iraqis to force freedom on them. "Transparodistic" is the only way to describe such a statement.
We knew they were hiding things. A country that hides something is a country that is afraid of getting caught, and that was part of our calculation. Charlie (Duelfer, head of the Iraq Survey Group) confirmed that. He also confirmed that Saddam had the ability to produce biological and chemical weapons. In other words, he was a danger. And he had long-range missiles that were undeclared to the United Nations. He was a danger. And so we dealt with him.
Let me get this straight. The Iraqis were hiding something. So they were afraid of getting caught. Therefore they were dangerous. Even though they didn't have any weapons of mass destruction, and there is no evidence that they were trying to make them. That they were supposed to have the ability to make them was enough even though anybody with a college chemistry degree and a couple of thousand dollars has the ability to make chemical weapons, and we haven't been shown any evidence of Iraqi ability to make biological weapons.
In fact, Bush didn't say what it was the Iraqis were supposedly hiding, unless it was those "long-range missiles." Those were developments of the stone-obsolete Scud itself a development of the World War II German V-2 and their range was only a few miles outside the allowed limit. But, in any case, the Iraqis publicly destroyed all of them in a desperate attempt to prevent the invasion.
Finally, the attitude of the Iraqis toward the American people it's an interesting question. They're really pleased we got rid of Saddam Hussein, and you can understand why. This guy was a torturer, a killer, a maimer. There's mass graves. I mean, he was a horrible individual that really shocked the country in many ways, shocked it into a kind of a fear of making decisions toward liberty. That's what we've seen recently. Some citizens are fearful of stepping up.
Yes, "there's [sic] mass graves." But Bush's compassion for the Iraqis seems somewhat selective. During the illegal blockade against Iraq, tens of thousands maybe hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians died of malnutrition and lack of basic medical supplies. Thousands more were harmed by the uranium-cored projectiles fired by U.S. aircraft during the First Gulf War; the low-level radiation they inhaled in the form of uranium oxide resulted in many deaths from leukemia and a horrifying epidemic of birth defects and stillbirths. [*] Since the Empire benevolently invaded Iraq in 2003, thousands of civilians have died at the hands of their liberators: Human Rights Watch puts the number at about 11,000 and climbing. Accurate accounting of Iraqi deaths is not possible, because the Imperium forbids the Iraqi puppet government to collect casualty figures, and refuses to do so itself. That seems odd for an entity that claims to be so concerned about torturing, killing, and maiming.
The people know where I stand, I mean, in terms of Iraq. I was very clear about what I believed. And, of course, I want to know why we haven't found a weapon yet. But I still know Saddam Hussein was a threat. And the world is better off without Saddam Hussein.
Translation: The facts don't matter. What matters is what I believe.
Now, in the what's called the PDB (Presidential Daily Briefing), there was a warning about Bin Laden's desires on America. But, frankly, I didn't think there was anything new. I mean, major newspapers had talked about Bin Laden's desires on hurting America. What was interesting in there was that there was a report that the FBI was conducting field investigations. And that was good news, that they were doing their job.
No need to worry Our Glorious FBI is on the job! Never mind that a series of scandals had already shown just how inept Our Glorious FBI is at carrying out its assigned duties. As President, why should I be concerned? However, in a piece republished by Antiwar.com, Die Zeit's Oliver Schröm reveals that the PDB was not one and a half pages, as released to the media recently, but eleven and a half pages long. ("Deadly Mistakes: A Chronology of Failure," October 2, 2002)
What was in the longer version of the PDB?
In his news conference Bush said:
As I mentioned, I oftentimes think about what I could have done differently. I can assure the American people that had we had any inkling that this was going to happen, we would have done everything in our power to stop the attack. Here's what I feel about that: The person responsible for the attacks was Osama bin Laden. That's who's responsible for killing Americans. And that's why we will stay on the offense until we bring people to justice.
It's not our responsibility. Whatever the United State does or doesn't do, the Imperium is not responsible for the consequences. Among the many vital pieces of information that seem to have fallen through the cracks is the fact that al Qaeda gave three specific reasons for the 9/11 attacks: U.S. support for the Israeli oppression of the Palestinians; the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia; and the deadly blockade against Iraq. They didn't say anything about hating freedom, which was the reason Bush gave for their actions. (See my article, "Why did they do it?", TLD, September 22, 2001.)
Question: You've looked back before 9-11 for what mistakes might have been made. After 9-11, what would your biggest mistake be, would you say, and what lessons have learned from it?
BUSH: I wish you'd have given me this written question ahead of time so I could plan for it. John, I'm sure historians will look back and say, gosh, he could've done it better this way or that way. You know, I just I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference, with all the pressure of trying to come up with answer [sic], but it hadn't yet.
George Bush couldn't think of one mistake he had made after 9/11, and, for all we know, before. How comforting that must be to him, if not to the rest of us.
I would've gone into Afghanistan the way we went into Afghanistan. Even knowing what I know today about the stockpiles of weapons, I still would've called upon the world to deal with Saddam Hussein.
In other words, the weapons of mass destruction were a pretext, just as the Neo-Trot Paul Wolfowitz, Grand Vizier to Rumsfeld, the Minister of Attacking Small Helpless Countries, has already said.
See, I'm of the belief that we'll find out the truth on the weapons. That's why we sent up the independent commission. I look forward to hearing the truth as to exactly where they are. They could still be there. They could be hidden, like the 50 tons of mustard gas in a turkey farm [a reference to some gas supposedly found in Libya].... You know, there's this kind of there's a terror still in the soul of some of the people in Iraq. They're worried about getting killed, and therefore they're not going to talk. But it'll all settle out, John. We'll find out the truth about the weapons at some point in time.
I don't care about the facts, I still think there could be weapons of mass destruction, perhaps hidden under somebody's bed.
However, the fact that [Saddam] had the capacity to make them bothers me today just like it would have bothered me then. He's a dangerous man. He's a man who actually not only had weapons of mass destruction the reason I can say that with certainty is because he used them.
Let's not bother to mention that when Saddam did use them, during the Iran-Iraq war, the United State cheered him on, in full knowlege of what he was doing.
I hope I don't want to sound like I have made no mistakes. I'm confident I have. I just haven't you just put me under the spot here, and maybe I'm not as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one.
Mistakes? Me? Don't be absurd.
Folks, here is a man secure about his own righteousness, a man who apparently has never had a moment of self-doubt, who simply doesn't care about any facts he doesn't agree with, who is impulsive and unreflective, and who refuses to acknowlege any responsibility for anything going wrong. He sees his job as running the world as he sees fit, and damn the consequences he used the phrase "change the world" or "changing the world" five times. People who don't agree with him are bad people who hate "freedom," which apparently consists of doing what the Empire wants done, and nothing else.
Whether or not Bush is clinically delusional is a judgment for a psychiatrist, but I hardly think it matters either way. Just like Rome, we seem to have gone from a sane but evil and sex-obsessed Tiberius Clinton to an outright crazy Caligula Bush. From a sociopath and sexual predator to a plain psycho. God help us.
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*More of those projectiles were fired during the "liberation" of Iraq.
U.S. soldiers are warned to wear protective gear when working in places
the projectiles were used. The Iraqis are told nothing.
*More of those projectiles were fired during the "liberation" of Iraq. U.S. soldiers are warned to wear protective gear when working in places the projectiles were used. The Iraqis are told nothing.
[Back to the text.]