When Is Bush Going to Come Clean?
By Paul Craig Roberts
12/08/07 "ICH" -- --- The recent disclosure that the latest National Intelligence Estimate concludes that Iran halted its nuclear weapon program several years ago, assuming Iran ever had such a program, has caused consternation among neoconservatives, right-wing Israeli government officials, and Bush regime ranks.
Members of the right-wing Israeli government have denounced the NIE finding as contrary to Israel’s interests. Former Bush regime official John Bolton accused America’s intelligence agencies with conspiring to discredit President Bush with politicized intelligence. According to Bolton, it is US intelligence agencies, not the neoconservatives, who have their “own agenda.” President Bush has promised to continue his threats against Iran regardless of the NIE finding.
The NIE finding puts Bush on the spot by bringing US intelligence up to speed with the International Atomic Energy Agency, whose director has repeatedly reported, as he did on December 4, that “the agency has no concrete evidence of an ongoing nuclear weapons program or undeclared nuclear facilities in Iran.”
Bush has been trying to work up an attack on Iran based on a non-existent nuclear weapon program. When asked how he could be threatening World War III with a nuclear-armed Iran when US intelligence (and the International Atomic Energy Agency) cannot find evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program, Bush said that “nobody told me” about the new finding. http://thinkprogress.org/2007/12/04/bush-never-learned-of-nie/ and (below) http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/12/20071204-4.html
Absurd say intelligence officials. The White House has known about the finding for six months while Dick Cheney tried to suppress the NIE finding. Neocon National Security Advisor Steve Hadley even lied to the press that the NIE finding was new and that’s why Bush didn’t know about it.
The unasked question is: What is the real reason the Bush Regime is so determined to attack Iran? We now know for certain that the reason has nothing whatsoever to do with Iranian nukes any more than the US invasion of Iraq had to do with Iraqi nukes. What is the real reason that is driving the Bush Regime to seek to overthrow with military invasions the only MIddle Eastern states that are not US puppets or dependents?
Until we have the answer to this question, we cannot know why the Bush regime wasted two administrations and $1 trillion at the minimum in order to kill and maim civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Bush’s insane wars have seen the US dollar plummet in value, the price of oil skyrocket, American’s soft power destroyed, and the hardening of opposition to the US worldwide.
What has been gained by these extraordinary sacrifices?
How can the American people and their representatives in the two parties in Congress tolerate a criminal executive branch that uses lies and deceit to lead them into illegal wars for secret reasons?
Surely, no one believes that Bush invaded Iraq because Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, or that Bush and Cheney were working up an attack on Iran because the executive branch did not know of the intelligence findings of its own agencies.
The invasion of Afghanistan also remains unexplained. The Taliban are not Al Qaeda and had nothing to do with 9/11 even in the official version of that event. Bush clearly did not invade Afghanistan in order to capture Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, who escaped scot free. The Bin Laden/Sept. 11 rationale for Bush’s wars has completely disappeared.
Osama and 9/11 were never more than public excuses for a pre-determined agenda.
Why do the US media and the investigative committees of Congress have no interest whatsoever in finding the agenda behind Bush’s wars?
How can Americans be a free people living under a rule of law when the president can commit the country to catastrophic wars on the basis of deception and escape all accountability?
And Bush has the chutzpah to call on Iran to “come clean” about its nuclear program or face diplomatic isolation. When is Bush going to “come clean” and tell us the real agenda behind his lies, deceptions, and wars?
Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan administration. He is credited with curing stagflation and eliminating “Phillips curve” trade-offs between employment and inflation, an achievement now on the verge of being lost by the worst economic mismanagement in US history.
.../... And now I'll be glad to answer some questions, starting with Terry Hunt.
Q Mr. President, a new intelligence report says that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program four years ago, and that it remains frozen. Are you still convinced that Iran is trying to build a nuclear bomb? And do the new findings take the military option that you've talked about off the table?
THE PRESIDENT: Here's what we know. We know that they're still trying to learn how to enrich uranium. We know that enriching uranium is an important step in a country who wants to develop a weapon. We know they had a program. We know the program is halted.
I think it is very important for the international community to recognize the fact that if Iran were to develop the knowledge that they could transfer to a clandestine program it would create a danger for the world. And so I view this report as a warning signal that they had the program, they halted the program. And the reason why it's a warning signal is that they could restart it. And the thing that would make a restarted program effective and dangerous is the ability to enrich uranium, the knowledge of which could be passed on to a hidden program.
And so it's a -- to me, the NIE provides an opportunity for us to rally the international community -- continue to rally the community to pressure the Iranian regime to suspend its program.
You know, the NIE also said that such pressure was effective, and that's what our government has been explaining to other partners in keeping the international pressure on Iran. The best diplomacy, effective diplomacy, is one of which all options are on the table.
Q Mr. President, Iraq's WMD turned out not to be there, and now Iran halted its nuclear program in 2003. Are you concerned that the United States is losing credibility in the world, and now may be seen as the boy who cries -- who called wolf?
THE PRESIDENT: Actually, I am -- I want to compliment the intelligence community for their good work. Right after the failure of intelligence in Iraq, we reformed the intel community so that there was a lot of serious considerations of NIEs in a way that would give us confidence. And here's a, I think, a very important product that is a result of the reforms we've put in place. As a matter of fact, the American people should have confidence that the reforms are working, and that this work on the intel community is important work.
People said, well, why is it that you can't get exact knowledge quicker? Well, the answer is, is because we're dealing with a regime that is not very transparent and, frankly, we haven't had a very good presence in Iran since 1979. And that's why I instructed the intel community to beef up its intelligence on Iran, so we could have a better sense for what they're thinking and what they're doing. And this product is a result of intelligence reform and, more importantly, the good, hard work of our intelligence community.
One of the reasons why this is out in the public arena is because I wanted -- and our administration believed that, one, it was important for people to know the facts as we see them. Secondly, that members of my administration had been very clear about the weapons program earlier this year and, therefore, it's important for the American people to see that there has been a
-- a reevaluation of the Iranian issue.
Q Mr. President, thank you. I'd like to follow on that. When you talked about Iraq, you and others in the administration talked about a mushroom cloud; then there were no WMD in Iraq. When it came to Iran, you said in October, on October 17th, you warned about the prospect of World War III, when months before you made that statement, this intelligence about them suspending their weapons program back in '03 had already come to light to this administration. So can't you be accused of hyping this threat? And don't you worry that that undermines U.S. credibility?
THE PRESIDENT: David, I don't want to contradict an august reporter such as yourself, but I was made aware of the NIE last week. In August, I think it was Mike McConnell came in and said, we have some new information. He didn't tell me what the information was; he did tell me it was going to take a while to analyze. Why would you take time to analyze new information? One, you want to make sure it's not disinformation. You want to make sure the piece of intelligence you have is real. And secondly, they want to make sure they understand the intelligence they gathered: If they think it's real, then what does it mean? And it wasn't until last week that I was briefed on the NIE that is now public.
And the second part of your question has to do with this. Look, Iran was dangerous, Iran is dangerous, and Iran will be dangerous if they have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. The NIE says that Iran had a hidden -- a covert nuclear weapons program. That's what it said. What's to say they couldn't start another covert nuclear weapons program? And the best way to ensure that the world is peaceful in the future is for the international community to continue to work together to say to the Iranians, we're going to isolate you. However, there is a better way forward for the Iranians.
Now, in 2003, the Iranian government began to come to the table in discussions with the EU-3, facilitated by the United States. In other words, we said to the EU-3, we'll support your efforts to say to the Iranians, you have a choice to make: You can continue to do policy that will isolate you, or there's a better way forward, so that it was the sticks-and-carrots approach.
You might remember the United States said at that point in time, we'll put the WTO on the table for consideration, or we'll help you with spare parts for your airplanes. It was all an attempt to take advantage of what we thought was a more open-minded Iranian regime at the time -- a willingness of this regime to talk about a way forward. And then the Iranians had elections, and Ahmadinejad announced that -- to the IAEA that he was going to -- this is after, by the way, the Iranians had suspended their enrichment program -- he said, we're going to stop the suspension, we'll start up the program again. And that's where we are today.
My point is, is that there is a better way forward for the Iranians. There has been a moment during my presidency in which diplomacy provided a way forward for the Iranians. And our hope is we can get back on that path again. But what is certain is that if Iran ever had the knowledge to develop a nuclear weapon and they passed that knowledge on to a covert program, which at one time in their history has existed, the world would be more dangerous. And now is the time for the international community to work together.
Q Mr. President, thank you. Just to follow, I understand what you're saying about when you were informed about the NIE. Are you saying at no point while the rhetoric was escalating, as "World War III" was making it into conversation, at no point nobody from your intelligence team or your administration was saying, maybe you want to back it down a little bit?
THE PRESIDENT: No, nobody ever told me that. Having said -- having laid that out, I still feel strongly that Iran is a danger. Nothing has changed in this NIE that says, okay, why don't we just stop worrying about it. Quite the contrary. I think the NIE makes it clear that Iran needs to be taken seriously as a threat to peace. My opinion hasn't changed.
And I just explained, Jim, that if you want to avoid a really problematic situation in the Middle East, now is the time to continue to work together. That's our message to our allies, and it's an important message for them to hear. And here's the reason why: In order for a nation to develop a nuclear weapons program they must have the materials from which to make a bomb, the know-how on how to take that material and make it explode, and a delivery system.
Now, the Iranians -- the most difficult aspect of developing a weapons program, or as some would say, the long pole in the tent, is enriching uranium. This is a nation -- Iran is a nation that is testing ballistic missiles. And it is a nation that is trying to enrich uranium. The NIE says this is a country that had a covert nuclear weapons program, which, by the way, they have failed to disclose, even today. They have never admitted the program existed in the first place.
The danger is, is that they can enrich, play like they got a civilian program -- or have a civilian program, or claim it's a civilian program -- and pass the knowledge to a covert military program. And then the danger is, is at some point in the future, they show up with a weapon. And my comments are, now is the time to work together to prevent that scenario from taking place. It's in our interests.
Q Mr. Bush, how can you say nothing has changed? You may see it this way, but the rest of the world is going to see the lead as the fact that the nuclear weapons program was halted in 2003.
THE PRESIDENT: Right.
THE PRESIDENT: I think we need to fund the troops. I submitted a supplemental last February. Anyway --
Q My question, sir, is, are you feeling troubled about your standing here yesterday, about perhaps facing a credibility gap with the American people?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I'm feeling pretty spirited, pretty good about life, and have made the decision to come before you so I can explain the NIE. And I have said Iran is dangerous, and the NIE doesn't do anything to change my opinion about the danger Iran poses to the world. Quite the contrary. I'm using this NIE as an opportunity to continue to rally our colleagues and allies.
Q Do you think it --
THE PRESIDENT: It makes it -- the NIE makes it clear that the strategy we have used in the past is effective. And the reason why we need to make sure that strategy goes forward for the future is because if Iran shows up with a nuclear weapon at some point in time, the world is going to say, what happened to them in 2007? How come they couldn't see the impending danger? What caused them not to understand that a country that once had a weapons program could reconstitute the weapons program? How come they couldn't see that the important first step in developing a weapon is the capacity to be able to enrich uranium? How come they didn't know that with that capacity, that knowledge could be passed on to a covert program? What blinded them to the realities of the world? And it's not going to happen on my watch, Mark.
And so, kind of Psychology 101 ain't working. It's just not working. I understand the issues, I clearly see the problems, and I'm going to use the NIE to continue to rally the international community for the sake of peace.
Thank you very much.
END 10:44 A.M. EST