July 23, 2003
OAKLAND, CALIF Ivan Eland, senior fellow for foreign policy and director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at The Independent Institute, issued the following statement today on the killings of Uday and Qusay Hussein:
With President George W. Bushs popularity in the polls plummeting and U.S casualties in Iraq rising, the Bush administration has desperately needed something to change the subject from the presidents State of the Union scandal. The killing of Saddam Husseins brutal sons provides convenient, yet temporary, political cover from the drip, drip, drip of new revelations about the questionable State of the Union claim that Iraq was trying to buy uranium from Africa. President Bush rushed to take credit for the killing of the Husseins sons, but let surrogates fall on their swords for his own questionable justification for invading Iraq in the first place.
The medias focus on the killing of the Hussein brothers has allowed the administration to bring forth the unconvincing apology of Stephen Hadley, Deputy National Security Advisor, for the presidents exaggeration of the Iraqi threat in the State of the Union address without it being much noticed. Hadley claimed that when the State of the Union address was being written, he simply forgot that the CIA had sent the White House two memos objecting to the language on uranium from Africa in a draft of a previous presidential address and that George Tenet, the CIA Director, had even personally called the White House to get the offending text removed. Shouldnt one memo from the lead U.S. intelligence agency have been enough to remove such an important piece of faulty intelligence from a presidential speech? In addition, Hadleys mere forgetfulness about the previous high-level objections to the language is belied by sparring at a lower level between the CIA and White House over weasel wording of the uranium accusation for the later State of the Union speech.
Therefore, the American people should not be distracted by temporary triumphs on the battlefield that will probably do little to quell growing opposition in Iraq to a long-term U.S. military occupation. Also, the tactical successes should not distract from the mounting evidence of administration deceptions about the need to mount the invasion of Iraq in the first place and from the need for U.S. forces to pursue a speedy exit.