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If the Bush Administration was not manipulating the intelligence information about Iraq’s alleged WMDs as its rationale for war, why did it exert such a strenuous effort to discredit chief U.N weapons inspector Hans Blix, the person who possessed the most informed perspective on WMDs?
The fact is that there were plenty of people casting doubt on the integrity and plausibility of the WMD claims prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. In a CBS News poll taken in November of 2003, 15 percent of the respondents thought the administration had been mostly lying, and 40 percent thought administration hid data. A majority, 55 percent, then thought the Bush administration manipulated the intelligence.
While Bush and his minions are contending that the charges of perfidy on their part are an irresponsible exploitation of his current political misfortunes, Democrats are asking that their legislators who voted for the invasion of Iraq account for themselves. Many felt that Congress did not demand an honest accounting of the data in support of the war when there was much evidence to cast doubt on it.
That doubt was personified by the chief U.N. weapons inspector, Hans Blix. For those who were paying attention to how the Bush administration was going about its business, Blix’s qualified assessments of Iraq and his advocacy for letting the weapons inspectors finish their jobs was a major obstacle on the trail Bush was blazing into war. The attempts to dismiss the U.N. as an “alien power” and remove Blix from influence were, to many, a patently obvious attempt to suppress and bury any information that might contradict the Bush rationale for war. Furthermore, many people were aware that the Bush faction had discovered the techniques of propaganda intimidation and the efficacy of fabrications that became obvious during the election of 2000.
The Bush camp had circulated rumors about John McCain suffering mental impairment while a POW in order to take him out of the primary. When the 2000 election was in dispute, the Bush character assassin squad went into battle mode against any Democrats who came to Florida to monitor the recounts. The Senate service offices of Tom Daschle were effectively stymied from doing their assigned work because of the telephone calls flooding in at the instigation of Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh. Daschle had gone to Florida and the official word from the Bush campaign was that he had no business down there trying to help steal the election.
The Bush Faction used the same technique against Hans Blix when he cast doubt that WMDs in Iraq were a reality.
When George Orwell wrote 1984 and his political satires and commentaries, he thought he was providing perspectives that would help educated citizens avoid the pitfalls in the totalitarian designs of the future. He had no idea that a Dick Cheney, George Bush, and Karl Rove would slaver over the techniques Orwell described of reality control, a mass media turned into a mass monitoring and intimidation device, and the Newspeak contorting of history and facts. He thought he was writing an antidote to orchestrated group think. He thought the Two Minutes of Hate sessions were a possibility among the ignorant with washable brains, and he described the conditions under which people in a democracy could be induced by fear and groupthink indoctrination into choosing a war-based totalitarian regime. Few students of Orwell could conceive that a Rush Limbaugh or Pat Robertson would appropriate the concept of Two Minutes of Hate and stretch it into two hours. It was the weapon used by Bush to circumvent the U.N. and move Hans Blix out of the picture.
The Two Minutes of Hate depicted in 1984 was an exercise during which the people of Oceania were gathered in front of TV sets in order to vilify the designated enemies of the state. Oceania was in perpetual war with Eastasia. The party members who ruled Oceania understood how people in a state of war would unite in a patriotic fervor against their enemy and suspend questioning and dissidence out of fear for their safety and fear at being branded unpatriotic and traitorous. As pictures of their enemies were flashed on the television screen, they would be led in demonstrations of hatred for two minutes. One of the enemies flashed on the screen was the most prominent dissident in Oceania, Emmanuel Goldstein. As his picture appeared, the people were led in exercises to show how much they reviled him.
This is the smear technique that the Bush administration used against Hans Blix. After Blix asked that U.N. inspections of Iraq be resumed, Paul Wolfowitz asked the CIA to investigate Blix’s previous work for a basis to discredit him. The CIA released a report that charged that Blix had not found evidence of Iraq’s nuclear programs prior to the Gulf War. Soon after, the administration started exaggerating its claims of Iraqi WMD activity to lead up to the present war on Iraq. Blix had stated that after 700 inspections of suspected facilities in Iraq, the inspection team had found no evidence.Read an extended version of this post by clicking on the headline for the link to TPM Cafe.