What Bush Did Wrong

By David Swanson

Bush authorized the leaking of selected portions of classified documents, selected in such a way as to constitute a lie. He painted a picture of a nuclear threat that he knew did not exist, and used it to scare people into supporting an illegal war, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.

Of course, the leaking itself was illegal. Of course, Bush’s past promises to fire leakers were lies, and his eagerness to investigate other leaks that he didn’t authorize is hypocrisy. Of course, it is quite likely he also authorized the leak of Plame’s undercover identity. Of course, this was retribution against a whistleblower. Of course, he may have lied to Fitzgerald and be guilty of obstruction of justice.

But all of that rather misses the point that Bush and his gang of thugs were spoon-feeding immensely destructive lies to the New York Times and other media outlets, which were passing them on to us unquestioningly, obediently. Had Bush legally declassified the NIE, reporters and editors would have seen the whole thing, not the misleading bits that Bush illegally leaked.

I expect that when I read the newspaper Friday morning I’ll want to shout “It’s the war, stupid!” The stories will touch on hypocrisy and low approval ratings and paint the issue as a competition between two political parties, treated roughly as sports teams. The US corporate media is very, very reluctant to confront the issue of the lies that launched the war.

Now, if we can impeach Bush and Cheney and remove them from office, we will stand a chance of ending the war and of restoring democracy and a separation of powers in Washington. For that purpose, it makes no difference what we impeach them for. A blow job would suffice.

But whichever crime(s) we end up nailing them on, we must make clear to the world that we as a nation are rejecting aggressive war, torture, detentions without charge, and weapons of mass destruction. We must end our rogue state status and return to the community of international law. The period following the end of the Nazis’ crimes saw a dramatic increase in the development of international law. The period following the end of Bush and Cheney’s crimes could see the same – if we raise the issue, if we demand accountability, if we don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees.