Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Yesterday, George W. Bush -- the president who has refused to attend even a single military funeral a soldier or marine who have died in pursuit of his folly -- paused to recognize Memorial Day.

From the Washington Post:
Quoting letters of the fallen from the war in Iraq, President Bush vowed Monday to a Memorial Day audience of military families and soldiers in uniform that the nation will honor its dead by striving for peace and democracy, no matter the cost.
And when Bush says the war must go on no matter the cost, he isn't kidding.
Before his Memorial Day remarks in 2003, Bush had declared major combat operations at an end, the U.S. government confidently predicted that weapons of mass destruction would be found and American generals said troops were in the process of stabilizing Iraq.

At that time, some 160 American soldiers had been killed in Iraq. Today, the total is over 1,650.
The cost of American lives has gone up ten-fold, but Mr. Bush is still confident that the fighting, and the killing, and the dying must continue -- just like he was confident that weapons of mass destruction would be found in Iraq.

Remember the administration's confident about weapons of mass destruction? The claim that some aluminum tubes were proof that Saddam Hussein was reconstituting Iraq's nuclear weapons program?

Of course, the Bush administration's confidence was ultimately proved entirely unfounded.

And so far, 1,650 soldiers and marines have paid the ultimate cost.

But what about the people directly responsible for Mr. Bush's misplaced confidence? What cost have they paid for misleading our nation and rushing our military headlong into a quagmire? Surely there must be some cost for such a failure.

From the Washington Post:
Two Army analysts whose work has been cited as part of a key intelligence failure on Iraq -- the claim that aluminum tubes sought by the Baghdad government were most likely meant for a nuclear weapons program rather than for rockets -- have received job performance awards in each of the past three years, officials said. ***

The Army analysts concluded that it was highly unlikely that the tubes were for use in Iraq's rocket arsenal, a finding that bolstered a CIA contention that they were destined for nuclear centrifuges, which was in turn cited by the Bush administration as proof that Saddam Hussein was reconstituting Iraq's nuclear weapons program.

The problem, according to the commission, which cited the two analysts' work, is that they did not seek or obtain information available from the Energy Department and elsewhere showing that the tubes were indeed the type used for years as rocket-motor cases by Iraq's military. ***

The NGIC assessment of the aluminum tubes was described by the president's intelligence commission as a "gross failure." The agency was "completely wrong," said the panel, when it judged in September 2002 that the tubes Iraq was purchasing were "highly unlikely" to be used for rocket-motor cases because of their "material and tolerances."

The commission found that aluminum tubes with similar tolerances were used in a previous Iraqi rocket, called the Nasser 81, and that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had published details about that system in 1996, as had the U.S. Department of Energy in 2001. The commission's report said "the two primary NGIC rocket analysts said they did not know the dimensions" of the older Nasser 81 rocket and were unaware of the IAEA and Energy Department reports. The report did not name the analysts, but officials confirmed that the panel was referring to George Norris and Robert Campos. ***

In a written statement, the Pentagon, speaking for the NGIC, confirmed that Norris and Campos had received awards, and it said that they were based "on their overall annual performance -- not on a single contribution -- and supervisors were encouraged to reward individuals on the basis of their annual contributions." The awards were given as part of a government-wide incentive program to recognize high-performing employees with cash or time off. An internal NGIC newsletter listed Norris and Campos as among those who received performance awards, lump-sum cash payments, in fiscal 2002, 2003 and 2004.

So let's be clear on the costs of the War in Iraq:

  • President Bush has never honored any of our service men and women who died in Iraq by attending a single military funeral but the Bush Pentagon has repeatedly honored the two men behind one of the key Iraq intelligence failures with performance awards.
  • The Bush Pentagon has still not found the money to properly equip our fighting men and women in Iraq -- leaving our troops to protect themselves with "hillbilly armor" but for three years in a row, the Bush Pentagon has found money for lump-sum cash payments to two of the biggest military failures in U.S. history.
  • President Bush tells us the war must go on.

And each year, Memorial Day becomes a personal day of mourning for more and more American families who have paid the cost.

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