by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent
March 13, 2008
AFTER 5 YEARS, WE'RE STILL LIED TO ABOUT IRAQ
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Next week is the fifth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. And it is likely that sometime in the next couple of weeks, the 4,000th American soldier will die in Iraq.
Those two grim milestones are a reminder of the continuing folly of our occupation of Iraq. And the Bush Administration remains intent on making sure Americans never know the truth about why the invasion took place, why the reconstruction of Iraq never took place and why U.S. forces may end up staying in Iraq for decades to come.
Three recent news items reinforce this idea.
The New York Times reported last month that the Pentagon is sitting on a detailed study of the planning for postwar Iraq that was prepared by the RAND Corporation, a federally financed center that conducts research for the U.S. military and others.
After 18 months of research, the RAND researchers prepared two copies of the report in the summer of 2005 - a classified version for the Pentagon and an unclassified version for public consumption. However, the Army has refused to allow the release of the unclassified report.
Why? The Times got a draft copy and found that the RAND researchers confirmed what had appeared in numerous other places from numerous other sources over the past five years - that the Bush Administration made no plans for a lengthy occupation of Iraq after the invasion. Everyone in the White House and the Pentagon assumed that U.S. forces could start withdrawing by the summer of 2003, so there was no need to make long term plans for security or reconstruction.
We know now how well that turned out.
Last week, The Washington Post reported that a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq is scheduled to be completed this month. But some people in the U.S. intelligence community are hesitant to make its key judgments public.
Why? Because when the NIE on Iran came out in November, it contradicted all the claims made by the Bush Administration about the true nature of Iran's attempts to build a nuclear weapon.
Also, the Iraq occupation is still a key issue in the 2008 presidential campaign. Sen. John McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee, echoes the Administration line that progress is being made in Iraq. The last thing the White House wants is a document that will likely undercut those claims.
The Associated Press reported over the weekend that the United States and Iraq have begun negotiations on a deal to keep U.S. forces in Iraq past the end of this year, when the United Nations Security Council resolution that governs the U.S. presence in Iraq expires.
According to Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell, the Bush Administration "does not seek permanent bases." He said the deal "will not in any way codify the number of troops that will remain in Iraq" and "will not tie the hands of a future commander-in-chief."
And if you believe any of that, you probably still believe that Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks. In case you still do, the McClatchy News Service reported this week that an exhaustive Pentagon review of more than 600,000 Iraqi documents that were captured after the U.S. invasion found no evidence that Saddam Hussein's regime had any operational links with Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida.
Anyone paying attention before the U.S. invasion of Iraq knew this, but sadly, they weren't in Congress, the Pentagon, the State Department or the White House.
Given the torrent of lies from the Bush Administration regarding every aspect of the Iraq war, it cannot be trusted to tell the truth in a timely fashion about the future of Iraq. Like the official debunking of the Saddam-Osama link, we may have to wait five years to find out things we should be told now.
So, to review, the Bush Administration doesn't want you to know how much it lied to justify an invasion of Iraq that didn't need to happen.
It doesn't want you to know all the mistakes it made after the Iraq invasion was over.
It doesn't want you to know whether any political, economic or security gains have been made in Iraq.
And it doesn't want you to know that it is busily trying to make a deal with the government it put into power to keep U.S. forces in Iraq long after President Bush is back in Crawford cutting brush.
As we head into the sixth year of the Iraq occupation, we need truth and a plan for getting out. As long as this Administration remains in power, neither will happen.
Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist in New England for more than 25 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at email@example.com.