by Ed Mainland –
FOR MARK SANDALOW, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, SF CHRONICLE
January 28, 2004
Because the San Francisco Chronicle remains enigmatically silent at White House press conferences, here are a baker’s dozen scripted questions to help your employees break the ice and get up their nerve:
1. Mr. President, you say there still may be weapons of mass destruction in Iraq but your chief weapons inspector says there aren’t now and never were. Why don’t you support an independent inquiry to clear up this disagreement? Why not call in the UN inspectors to clarify matters?
2. Mr. President, you say the intelligence was sound on which you based your decision to make war on Iraq. You praise the intelligence community that produced it. But your chief weapons inspector says that
intelligence was badly flawed and has called for an independent investigation to find out why and prevent future errors. Why do you not support this investigation?
3. Mr. President, you say that Iraq was “a dangerous place”. How was this a justification to make war on another sovereign state, as Richard Perle has confirmed, “illegally”? Aren’t there lots of “dangerous places” in the world? Oakland, for example? Or the Tenderloin?
4. Mr. President, you said that “We know that Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons today” (Oct. 7, 2002). You said that “we have found Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction” (March 28, 2003, in Poland). Would you describe these statements as lies, fabrications, misrepresentations, untruths, distortions, unwitting exaggerations or fibs? Or did you “misspeak”? Or were you “misled”. If misled, by whom?
5. Mr. President, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said that “We do know that the Iraqi regime currently has chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction”. None have been found and your chief weapons inspector says there never were any. Do you believe that Mr. Rumsfeld
lied or was he misled, and if the latter, who misled him? Do you still believe Mr. Rumsfeld to be a reliable, competent public servant of sound judgment in view of this profound error?
6. Mr. President, you maintain that Saddam was a “grave and gathering threat to America and the world”. What exactly was the threat, in view of the fact that Saddam had no serious weaponry, his army and economy was decaying and were weaker than any time since 1971, sanctions and
inspections had effectively contained and deterred him for more than a decade, UN weapons inspectors were crawling all over his country, the no-fly zones truncated his area of control, he couldn’t even threaten
the Kurds in the North, the Shiia in the South were organizing against him, the Israeli military said Iran, not Iraq, was the main threat to Israel, the UN and Israel agreed that Iraq had no nuclear weapons program, Turkey, Iraq’s neighbor, was unconcerned and denied Iraq was a threat to the region, and according to senior Iraqis now in captivity, Saddam was losing his grip on his own military apparatus and even his
7. Mr. President, your press spokesman said Tuesday that you never said Iraq was an “imminent” threat, just that the threat was “grave and gathering”. Please explain the difference between “imminent” and “grave
and gathering”. And if you did not mean to imply that the threat was “imminent” in your many insinuations and indirect assertions that this was so, what was the rush to invade? If the threat was not imminent,
why would it not have been better to wait to see what the UN inspectors found or at least delay the invasion for 30 days as the French proposed so better evidence could be discovered and the weapons assertions sustained or falsified?
8. Mr. President, if there were no Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and you are now blocking a fair, direct, open “one-man/one vote” election in Iraq in favor of a incomprehensible system of rigged,
undemocratic caucuses that are designed to bar from power candidates whom you don’t like, what have more than 500 American soldiers died for in Iraq?
9. Mr. President, your critics claim that both of your stated reasons for waging pre-emptive war — “grave threat” to U.S. national security and “democratic liberation” don’t seem to hold up. And in regard to
Saddam’s eligibility for preventive “liberation” and the two waves of large-scale repression of Saddam’s internal enemies which account for most of the mass graves you frequently allude to — the gassing of the
Kurds and the massacre of the Shiite uprising — didn’t they occur because of the acquiescence, negligence, quiescence and specific policy mistakes of the then administration of Bush 41?
10. Mr. President, when the American army invaded and occupied Iraq, it showed little interest in the weapons sites you and your colleagues had previously alleged to contain dangerous arsenals. Did you and they know
all along that there were no Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and instead used such allegations as a pretext to get American forces deployed permanently in the Middle East to dominate the region, secure
its oil supplies, protect Israel and signal would-be challengers about the muscularity of American global power, as the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and neoconservatives in your administration had
11. Mr. President, why did you meet with grieving British families of soldiers killed in the Iraq insurgency but you never meet with American families who have lost loved ones to the insurgency and might benefit
from your solace? Why do you, alone of American presidents, prevent the televising of the ceremonial return of the coffins lost American soldiers at Andrews AFB and other points of entry? Don’t you think you
owe our lost soldiers at least this one honor in the sight of the nation?
12. Mr. President, since you say you support democracy in the region and the world, what are your plans to invade, overthrow and replace the dictator of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, who boils his political opponents
in vats of water and watches them die, and who holds more than 10,000 Uzbek political prisoners in harsh gulags, and who grants the U.S. important base rights for projecting power into northern Afghanistan and the whole of Central Asia? When will Uzbekistan be added to your “axis of evil” to be invaded in order to that this important allied state enjoy the blessings of freedom, liberty and the American way of life?
And when will the dictator of Azerbaidjan, newly confirmed by a widely ridiculed fake election, and who happens to be a key U.S. ally in control of the oil riches of Baku and the Caspian Sea, be attacked and captured by U.S. forces to liberate the Azeri people from the yoke of tyranny? Where are the neoconservatives and their calls for “remaking the face of the region” when Central Asians are groaning under the lash
of dictators even more evil than Saddam?
13. Mr. President, the victims of 9/11 have called on you to cooperate more fully with the independent official investigation of the tragedy. Your critics say you are stalling, trying to run out the clock, then terminate the investigation without extending the deadline as the appointed panel has asked. Sir, what is it that you are trying to hide?
— Ed Mainland, General Secretary, Whited Sepulchre Foundation, Marin County, CA