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TAKING IT FROM THE TOP

TAKING IT FROM THE TOP

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WHERE ARE THEY, MR. BUSH? In its April 24th issue, The Memphis Flyer reprinted an editorial that had originally appeared that same week in the London Independent. Entitled "Where Are They, Mr. Blair?" this piece questioned the existence of the “weapons of mass destruction" which the Bush Administration used as its primary justification for launching "pre-emptive" war against Iraq on March 19th. In the ensuing weeks, as we all now know, no WMDs were found. Not one. Each and every one of the dozens of “hot” leads eagerly seized upon by the American mass media -- and reported as network news flashes, time and time again -- turned out to be bogus. In the aftermath of the attack, each and every Iraqi “scientist” questioned about his country’s possession of WMDs told his interrogators the same thing: there just weren’t any, at least not in the spring of 2003. Objective observers around the world now seriously doubt that Iraqi WMDs will ever be found, if indeed they existed at all at the time of the Iraqi invasion. And today, ordinary Americans across the country are slowly but surely coming to grips with the remarkable realization that, yes, Operation Iraqi Freedom may well have been launched under false pretenses. This is not a pretty exercise for the national ego. The Bush administration is doing its best to stall congressional inquiries into its actions, pleading for more time, more time, the Defense Department says, for ever-more intensive searching. The irony of that request would be hilarious (given the fact that Hans Blix and the UN weapons inspectors were asking for exactly the same thing -- more time -- last March, and were told by these self-same warriors to stuff it), were it not for the hundreds of American and thousands of Iraqi lives that this war has claimed, lives that have been lost as a result of military actions deliberately undertaken by the US and British governments, with minimal international support. Clearly, the Bush Administration now appears guilty of what at best can be called a colossal misjudgment, and at worst a deliberate act of deceit unparalleled in American history. The time has come to find out just which of these unhappy scenarios is reality. Last week, House Resolution 260 was introduced in Congress, sponsored by 35 Democratic congressmen, in an attempt to do just that. HR 260 calls upon President Bush to come clean, as it were, on his reasons for attacking Iraq, by providing documents to Congress in timely fashion that corroborate his administration’s many statements regarding Iraq's “certain” possession of WMDs. Statements like this one, uttered by White House spokesman Ari Fleisher on January 9: “We know for a fact that there are weapons there in Iraq.” HR 260 simply asks the President to share with Congress the information that allowed his administration to make this and dozens of other equally bold statements in the months leading up to war. Those 35 House Democrats are to be applauded for performing their constitutional duty in this regard. And while I find it disappointing that none of our own Tennessee Democratic congressmen were among their number, I find it appalling that that the House Democratic leadership under Rep. Nancy Pelosi -- and for that matter, her counterpart in the Senate, Sen. Tom Daschle -- have chosen not to endorse this measure. Granted, with both Houses of Congress now under Republican control, there is virtually no chance that HR 260 will ever be passed. But that is not the point. This is not politics-as-usual. The fact is that the Democratic Party leadership in Congress, having helped the Bush administration obtain its blank check for war last fall, needs to realize that it has an obligation to determine whether or not that check has been applied to the wrong account. In the current circumstances, silence is no longer an option for Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Daschle. If it has the slightest shred of integrity left, the Democratic Party should be speaking out now, loudly and clearly, asking with one voice: "Where Are They, Mr. Bush?" And all members of Congress, Republican and Democrat alike, should not stop asking that question until the President of the United States has given the American people a coherent and cogent reply. (Kenneth Neill is publisher of the Flyer and its sister publications at Contemporary Media, Inc.)

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