LOCAL VOICES: Time to stop the lies about war

Sandusky Register managing editor Matt Westerhold has taken some heat for w
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

Sandusky Register managing editor Matt Westerhold has taken some heat for writing Nov. 25 that Bush, Cheney and the media lied about the war in Iraq. One writer claims that the Bush administration and its pro-war supporters did the best that they could, but were let down by faulty intelligence; others seem to argue that the Register has no business even indirectly implying that American service members "are dying for a lie."

But in fact, Mr. Westerhold was correct. Evidence that the Bush administration was cooking the intelligence books on Iraq was available well before the war began in March of 2003. And to its credit, the Register did publish some critical perspectives when most media outlets were apparently too frightened and intimidated to give space to dissenting views.

For example, prior to the U.S. invasion the Register published an article on March 7, 2003 in which I wrote that the Bush administration "seems wholly unable to organize a factual case for war," and that weapons inspectors on the ground in Iraq had found "no mobile weapons labs, no new activity at Iraqi nuclear sites ... (or) any imminent threat from weapons of mass destruction." The article also pointed out that Bush had cited a non-xistent UN report to back up a false claim that Iraq was only months away from having nuclear weapons while in reality inspector el-Baradei was denying that Iraq had an active nuclear weapons program. When the president repeatedly cited a report that did not even exist, and when big media let him get away with it, that was a lie.

Around the same time, the Register published several articles by Rufus Sanders, who correctly predicted what a disaster the war would become. The Register should take pride in the fact that it gave its readers a range of opinions and analyses on the looming war while the big media outlets were systematically shutting out dissenting views. Mr. Westerhold was quite correct to declare that the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN and Fox News Network all failed miserably to do the job expected of a free press?

(I'm not trying to be a Register suck-up here, merely giving credit where it is due. I have never met Mr. Westerhold.)

It might surprise Mr. Westerhold's critics to learn that his views are shared by a majority of military families.

A Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll released on Dec. 7 shows that 60 percent of "those families with soldiers, sailors and Marines who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan, 60 percent say that the war in Iraq was not worth the cost." Much of this dissent from within the military, which includes numerous retired generals and other officers, can be attributed to the fact that the troops are tired of being lied to.

Perhaps the biggest lies of all concern the purpose of the U.S. invasion -- that it was just a temporary mission that would bring freedom and democracy to the people of Iraq. But as soon as the boots hit the ground, permanent U.S. military bases began to sprout from the desert sands. It turns out that there was no exit plan because there was never any intention to leave. Bush and the neocons fully intend to keep U.S. forces in Iraq forever. Too bad they did not let us in on that before the war began.

Now it has emerged that the Bush administration is at it again -- this time lying about Iran. A National Intelligence Estimate that Bush and Cheney witheld for months contradicts their assertions that Iran poses a nuclear weapons threat, and it offers only scant evidence that Iran ever had a nuclear weapons program at all. You won't learn about that on Fox News.

Recent history has shown that Bush and the neocons will say and do absolutely anything to keep dragging our country into an endless series of illegal, unwarrented and disastrous wars.

As citizens of a democracy we have an obligation to speak out and resist while we still can.

It is time to get involved. Find alternative sources of news. Join a peace group. Resist. Silence is complicity.

Arnold Oliver

Professor Emeritus Of Political Science

Heidelberg College

Member of Veterans for Peace