Wednesday, June 15, 2005

More Damning than Downing Street

I came across this little gem on the frontpage of

It's from Paul Rogat Loeb, who's articles I read quite
often there.

Take a gander and see for yourself...

More Damning than Downing Street
by Paul Rogat Loeb

It's bad enough that the Bush administration had so
little international support for the Iraqi war that
their "coalition of the willing" meant the U.S.,
Britain, and the equivalent of a child's imaginary
friends. It's even worse that, as the Downing Street
memo confirms, they had so little evidence of real
threats that they knew from the start that they were
going to have manufacture excuses to go to war. What's
more damning still is that they effectively began this
war even before the congressional vote.

With Congressman John Conyers about to hold hearings,
coverage of the Downing Street memo is finally
beginning to leak into the media. In contrast, we've
heard almost nothing about the degree to which this
administration began actively fighting the Iraq war
well in advance of the March 2003 official
attack--before both the October 2002 US Congressional
authorization and the November United Nations
resolution requiring that Saddam Hussein open the
country up to inspectors.

I follow Iraq pretty closely, but was taken aback when
Charlie Clements, now head of the Unitarian
Universalist Service Committee, described driving in a
Baghdad neighborhood six months before the war "and a
building would just explode, hit by a missile from
30,000 feet -'What is that building?'" Clements would
ask. "'Oh, that's a telephone exchange.'" Later, at a
conference at Nevada's Nellis Air Force Base, Clements
heard a U.S. General boast "that he began taking out
assets that could help in resisting an invasion at
least six months before war was declared."

Earlier this month, Jeremy Scahill wrote a powerful
piece on The Nation's website, describing a huge air
assault in September 2002,

"Approximately 100 US and British planes flew from
Kuwait into Iraqi airspace," Scahill writes. "At least
seven types of aircraft were part of this massive
operation, including US F-15 Strike Eagles and Royal
Air Force Tornado ground-attack planes. They dropped
precision-guided munitions on Saddam Hussein's major
western air-defense facility, clearing the path for
Special Forces helicopters that lay in wait in Jordan.
Earlier attacks had been carried out against Iraqi
command and control centers, radar detection systems,
Revolutionary Guard units, communication centers and
mobile air-defense systems. The Pentagon's goal was
clear: Destroy Iraq's ability to resist."

Why aren't we talking about this? As Scahill points
out, this was a month before the Congressional vote,
and two before the UN resolution. Supposedly part of
enforcing "no fly zones," the bombings were actually
systematic assaults on Iraq's capacity to defend
itself. The US had never declared war. Bush had no
authorization, not even a fig leaf. He was simply
attacking another nation because he'd decided to do
so. This preemptive war preempted our own Congress, as
well as international law.

I don't think most Americans know these prewar attacks
ever happened, aside from those who've read Scahill's
recent piece, or heard him on Democracy Now. I recall
no mainline media coverage at the time, and little in
the alternative press. The bombings that destroyed
Iraq's air defenses were under the radar for both the
American media and public.

If coverage of the Downing Street memo continues to
increase, I suspect the administration will try to
dismiss it as mere diplomatic talk, just inside
baseball. But they weren't just manipulating
intelligence so they could attack no matter how Saddam
Hussein responded. They weren't only bribing would-be
allies into participation. They were fighting a war
they'd planned long before. They just didn't bother to
tell the American public.


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