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Each weekday over the course of a week, a member of the NCR staff offers a commentary on one or more topics in the news.  It's our way of introducing you to some of the people carrying out the NCR mission of faith and justice based journalism.

June 11, 2003
Vol. 1, No. 47




Tom Fox There's a pattern of lies here

Tom Fox NCR publisher

Don't know if it matters to you, but it matters to me that my government has lied. Democracies are fragile; they depend on open and honest communication. Increasingly, we get secrecy and mistruth.

Our governing system breaks down when you can't believe what your president says.

President Bush's is losing credibility.

Before the war he told us without qualification, indeed, with total certitude, that Saddam Hussein possessed and was ready to use his weapons of mass destruction against U.S. targets. That's a serious charge. It sent chills down the spine.

We were told we had to go to war to protect ourselves. It followed the unprecedented Bush military doctrine founded on "preemptive war."

Through history virtually all aggressors who begin conflicts say they do so in self-defense.

Now it turns out the whole WMD story was a concoction. It was not true. The CIA and U.S. military intelligence tell us they never knew for certain if Saddam actually had or was preparing to use these weapons. At best they were worried.

Why the WMD scare? Earlier Bush arguments to wage war against Iraq never gained traction or earned popular support. Saddam, Bush had previously suggested on more than one occasion, was linked to 9/11. It turns out there was never evidence of linkage.

The WMD threat did the trick, frightening the public and providing moral cover for an attack. Military analysts and a host of neoconservatives, including prominent Catholics, told us Augustine of Hippo would support an attack against Iraq. His "just war" theory would support the move, they said. Importantly, they argued that weapons of mass destruction poised for use against the United States fulfilled the pressing and grave nature of the threat, allowing an attack to be viewed as a "last resort."

Bush never left any other impression.

Yes, it matters that we were lied to. Yes, it matters that the war against Iraq was not morally justifiable.

Much of the rest of the world community, based on numerous reports, feels the same way. Polls say people overseas fear U.S. militarism more than Arab fanaticism.

If Bush was not certain he could have taken more time. But, no, he pushed ahead. Canada asked for a 30-day delay. Bush said no.

Lies undermine government. And there's a pattern here. Just days ago Bush told us emphatically the United States had found "germ warfare" trailers in Iraq. Turns out there was no poof.

These are serious and dangerous times. Short of honesty from our government leaders we have no way to assess the conditions in which we live.

It's now two months since Baghdad fell. An AP story says US military units searching for weapons of mass destruction have run out of places to look.

Bush must be held accountable. It does not seem it will happen soon. But it must happen some day.

Post Script: The first impeachment resolutions voted by the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives against President Nixon had nothing to do with Watergate. They dealt with his illegally conducting war in Cambodia. He began bombing without telling Congress. As it became clear to members of Congress what Nixon had done, his days became numbered.

Tom Fox is NCR publisher. He can be reached at

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