Getting to the Bottom of the Administration's Case for War, Part I

Publish Date: 
Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Whatever the outcome of the Plame leak investigation, it is long past time for responsible leaders of both parties to conduct a thorough and serious review of the Administration's publicly stated rationale for going to war in Iraq.

Our government should take several actions without delay: the Senate Intelligence Committee should, as promised by Chairman Roberts, conduct the thorough review promised prior to the election; the State Department should release its Inspector General report into the so-called "Niger Forgeries" and the Administration╩╣s false claims about Iraq╩╣s attempts to acquire nuclear weapons; the FBI must complete its investigation into the Niger Forgeries; and if necessary, we should convene a 9/11 style commission with subpoena power to look into the Administration's now-disproved arguments for our going to war, and the lack of serious preparation for the occupation.

As someone who supported the Iraq War, I believe it should be those of us who stood by the President that must take the lead in this inquiry. We owe it to the Iraqi people so the birth of their new nation begins with a truthful and hopeful narrative. We owe it to the American families who have lost loved ones in Iraq. We owe it to the brave young men and women putting their lives on the line in Iraq today. We owe it to the American people whose money has supported the Iraq policy. And as believers in open and accountable government, we owe it to our children, so they can inherit a democracy as strong and vibrant as the one given to us.

Simply put, the various news accounts sure make it look like the President and his team purposely lied/exaggerated/misled the nation into war. You pick the word. It doesn't really matter. There was no WMD, no Uranium, no links to Al-Qaeda, no jihadi training camps. There was a bad regime, with the potential to make great mischief in a troubled region. But since there were several other countries like that in the world at the time, that alone was not enough to mobilize the nation to war. So the case was inflated, spun, manufactured and sold to the world.

Enter Joe Wilson. A career diplomat, Wilson stumbled into all this and called the Administration out on their deceit. And so he and his family were attacked. But in this case, unlike in so many of the other attacks brought by the Bush team, they went after a protected one, Wilson's wife, a covert CIA agent, and committed a treasonous act. The possible indictments are a fair step by an honorable prosecutor to set this right, without necessarily getting to the more serious matters revisited by this investigation. That part - getting to the bottom of what really drove our country to war - is up to us.

It is also up to us to make sure that the proud and patriotic Americans fighting in Iraq can do their job right or we must bring them home. They need more armor, more support from the international community, and possibly more troops, but above all, they must be told why they are really there, and what our mission really is. To do that our government must admit that they have not been straight with us, that they did not really understand what we were getting into, but we are there, with a new mission to build a good nation in a troubled region, that progress is being made but at a tremendous cost, and that we know it must get better soon or we must leave.

After all Mr. President, it is not only "our money" you are expending over there, but it is our lives and the prestige of our great nation.

For those of us who supported the war, we have a lot of work to do. We cannot accept the story that has been told, and we cannot tolerate the ensuing lack of clarity of our mission in Iraq. We must use all available means to better understand why America went to war, and to bring our troubled mission in Iraq to a successful and swift conclusion.