Almost five years and perhaps half a million deaths too late, it’s finally the accepted wisdom in Washington that the intelligence that George W. Bush used to justify invading Iraq was garbage. But the pattern of twisting the truth about Iraq continues unabated and the President is still rarely called on it.
Bush has never stopped making statements about the Iraq War that are untrue, illogical or irrelevant. Yet, the Washington press corps remains almost as lax today about holding Bush accountable as it was in 2002 and 2003.
So, when Bush mocks Democratic politicians in Washington who supposedly seek to substitute their judgments for those of experienced commanders on the ground, the national news media stays silent on Bush’s hypocrisy. It’s almost never mentioned that he was the Washington politician in December who overruled the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the two top generals in Iraq on the escalation of the war.
Bush not only rejected the advice of the Joint Chiefs and his field generals, John Abizaid and George Casey, but then replaced Abizaid and Casey with new commanders who were compliant to Bush’s wishes. Though the removals fell within Bush’s Commander-in-Chief powers, it can’t be said he was respecting the judgments of the combat generals.
Nevertheless, Bush sees no risk when he attributes to congressional Democrats the notion that commanders should take fighting directions from politicians 6,000 miles away in Washington, D.C., as Bush said in a speech on May 1.
Nor does the national news media question Bush’s sincerity when he asserts, as he did on May 2, that “the question is, who ought to make that [military] decision? The Congress or the commanders? And as you know, my position is clear I’m a commander guy.?”
But Bush is not “a commander guy,” at least not when the commanders disagree with him. In that same May 2 speech, Bush took both sides of the issue and got away with it. He claimed to respect the judgments of his commanders and then explained how he repudiated his commanders.