In last months long-overdue announcement, he finally said it, as blunt as could be: he knows (and never knew) of no evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. While the administration never explicitly spelled out the connection between Saddam and Sept. 11, they purposely withheld the fact that there was no connection and instead took every opportunity to insinuate that there was. As Vice President Cheney said recently, its not surprising that the majority of Americans believed Saddam was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks.
Undoubtedly, stating that such a link did not exist would have eroded Bushs support for a preemptive attack. Therefore, in their eagerness to begin dropping bombs, the administration was never honest about the subject until after the war was over. By hiding this pertinent fact until it was politically safe to reveal it, the Bush administration exploited Americas sentiments regarding Sept. 11 in an attempt to bolster support for an illegitimate war.
When the justifications for attacking Iraq were changing on practically a daily basis, and intelligence regarding weapons of mass destruction was being challenged, there was no better way to muster up blind, patriotic approval than to manipulate American sentiment regarding Sept. 11. A slew of suggestions, hints and innuendoes were made, culminating when Bush, at the so-called end of the Iraq war, referred to Iraq as part of a larger war on terror that started on Sept. 11.
It worked. The administration successfully converted peoples anger towards those responsible for Sept. 11 into anger towards Saddam. Once the public believed the figurehead of the axis of evil was somehow himself responsible for Sept. 11, many more of them were itching to see him blown to smithereens. The administration knew these assumptions were not true, yet they did absolutely nothing to correct them until months after Iraq had been transformed into a state of utter chaos and disarray.
While most of us, at some point or another, have withheld the truth to get what we want, this particular instance is extreme. This is the President of the United States deceitfully hiding valuable information from the country regarding a decision to declare a preemptive war. These are the lives of thousands of innocent people. These are billions of dollars that could have been spent elsewhere. When creating an opinion about such a matter, the public deserves the truth in its entirety and the president has an obligation to provide it.
While it is deceitful that the Bush administration chose to keep the country in the dark about the lack of a Saddam-Sept. 11 link until after the war, what is perhaps most disappointing is that so many Americans passively stood by and let this happen. While there were vocal cries of disbelief over the assumed link, most of these cries hailed from extremely radical left-wingers that were, in many cases, written off by the average American. Any dissent vocalized by somewhat more moderate politicians and intellectuals also did not penetrate the average person, for many people lack the patience to pay close attention to the details of current events. Rather, they simply notice the remarks of the most public political figures. However, the most notable political figures were obscuring the truth (i.e., the entire Bush administration).
Rather than demand to be told what the evidence was that linked Saddam to Sept. 11, the majority of America went on blindly believing what was easy to believe. They did not delve deeper. If they had, they would have discovered that there was nothing to suggest that Saddam was behind Sept. 11 in any way. But this did not happen, and Cheney was right: it is not surprising.
If we cannot trust the president to do his job and keep the public adequately informed, and we cannot trust the people to stand up to the deceptive power of the administration, the future of this country is extremely bleak. The public must take the opportunity presented by Bushs confession to hold him accountable for creating and furthering the hazy ties between Saddam and Sept. 11. The American people have been duped, and this should not be taken with a grain of salt. If we stand up and defend our right to accurate information now, it is less likely that the administration and those to come will act in the same manipulative manner. If not, Bush may merely have set a precedent that will allow him and future leaders to hide as much information as they deem necessary to strengthen support for their own ill-conceived agendas.