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Jewish World Review June 11, 2003 / 11 Sivan, 5763

David Limbaugh

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Consumer Reports

Whom do you trust? | With their growing cacophony of charges against the Bush administration for allegedly lying about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, the Democratic machine and its media allies are committing the very sin they're imputing to President Bush: undermining our national credibility.

Do you understand the gravity of the charge? Bush's opponents are contending that Bush, in order to snooker the public into supporting his neo-conservative, war-mongering appetite, deliberately - not negligently - distorted intelligence data to make Iraq's WMD program look much worse than it was. The whole pretense for the war, say the critics, was a fraud, and we were manipulated by a bunch of empire-building megalomaniacs in the executive branch.

They are seeking to discredit him as an honorable man and as the appropriate leader to continue navigating us through the War on Terror. Specifically, they've:

  • charged that Colin Powell, with Bush's blessing, intentionally relied on falsified British intelligence data in his presentation to the United Nations seeking its support for the war;

  • cited a leaked 2002 Defense Intelligence Agency report saying officials weren't sure of the exact location of Saddam's WMDs as proof that we had no reliable evidence of the existence of the WMDs. Yet DIA Director Lowell Jacoby insists there was no misrepresentation here. The existence and exact location of the WMDs are two different things;

  • said that Dick Cheney, in four separate meetings browbeat the CIA into altering its WMD assessments to support the administration's "embellished" claims;

  • trotted out their Watergate hero, John Dean, to examine whether "lying about the reason for a war (is) an impeachable offense";

  • trotted out Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, at a recent Democratic presidential rally in Mount Pleasant, to say that in matters of war and peace, America "must be able to trust our federal government to tell us the truth";

  • begun to investigate all these allegations in congressional hearings. (I hope they plan on calling former President Clinton to testify, because he made the exact same arguments as the Bush administration);

  • and perhaps, most despicably, they've charged - based on an innuendo-driven rumor manufactured by the anti-war British Broadcasting Corp. - that our Special Operations Forces exaggerated the dangers they faced in rescuing Pfc. Jessica Lynch as part of a cynical public relations stunt. Liberal Los Angeles Times columnist Robert Scheer and Democratic candidate Dennis Kucinich separately suggested that the United States staged the event, and Kucinich demanded the release of the entire video.

Their audacity is staggering. The gravamen of their claims is not merely that Bush lied - Democrats have made clear they don't care about presidential lies - but that he lied to start a war, the worst consequence of which is that we have lost credibility in the international community. As the New York Times editors wrote, "The good word of the United States is too central to America's leadership abroad - and to President Bush's dubious doctrine of pre-emptive warfare - to be treated so cavalierly."

But the disingenuousness of the president's accusers is manifest in the nature of their unsubstantiated allegations. Why? Because the inevitable result of those charges will be a diminution of American credibility. For pure partisan reasons they are causing the very damage they wrongly say that Bush has caused. In full view of the world, they have disparaged the integrity of the administration, the Department of Defense, DIA, CIA and our military elite. They've undermined America's credibility with foreign nations - all in the name of safeguarding our credibility with foreign nations.

Now, what do President Bush and the rest of his administration say about this? All of them, to a person, have repeatedly insisted they are telling the truth. In order to believe they were all lying, you have to believe, by the way, that Bill Clinton lied about the existence of these weapons, too.

Which is more likely: that the media and Democratic leadership have trumped up these charges for crass partisan purposes? Or, that President Bush, Vice President Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and a great part of the intelligence community are complicit in a lie that would rival the plot in a Robert Ludlum novel? Do you really think they are so Machiavellian?

For the record, of course, I don't believe President Bush lied, but if I did - unlike Clinton's diehard enablers - I would not be defending him.

It boils down to this: Whom do you trust, and who truly has the nation's best interests at heart?

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David Limbaugh, a columnist and attorney practicing in Cape Girardeau, Mo., is the author of the just-released exposť about corruption in the Clinton-Reno Justice Department, "Absolute Power." Send your comments to him by clicking here.