A few weeks ago, I wondered out loud why Republicans were allowed to lie without consequence in the letters section of my local paper, the StarTribune — especially since I grew up being told by the people who run the letters sections of various papers that letters to the editor had to have a basis in fact. (In fact, it's not just the letters section, and it's not just in the Strib, where Republicans and conservatives and their enablers are held to a lower standard or none at all. But I digress.)
Well, they did it again. Actually, they've done it many times, but this one, done as a slimy response to an excellent column by Joe Conason, whose feet the letter writer is unworthy to lick, was so egregious that I couldn't let it pass unchallenged:
The Iraq threat was real
Joe Conason's May 6 column about George Tenet's book took the liberty of furthering the media message of alleged lies by our government when in reality it is his own lies that are most astounding.
He makes generalizations about CIA analysts who didn't believe the warnings of Iraq — where was he when all our allies' intelligence communities had the same analysis about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction? Does he know WMDs were not moved to Syria?
Has Conason conveniently forgotten that Iraq was shooting at U.S. and coalition surveillance jets nearly every day during the period between the Gulf War and the final round of U.N. resolutions?
TERRY W. BRANHAM, LAKEVILLE
Hoo boy. Where do we start here?
First off, there's the bald-faced accusation — an accusation that letter writer Branham utterly fails to back up with actual proof — that Joe Conason lied. That offense alone, back in the old days, would have kept this letter from seeing the light of day.
Second off, our allies didn't exactly put much faith in the war rationales that Bush and Blair were trumpeting. They had good reason to be suspicious, as "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" instead of the other way around. The only leaders of major European countries to back Bush and his war were the UK's Tony Blair and Italy's Silvio Berlusconi — and both leaders were brought low because of it.
Fourth off: Ever since the "no-fly zones" over Iraq were established, Saddam's pilots had been trading potshots with the US and UN pilots in charge of monitoring the no-fly zones, but the US and UN jets were so superior that the Iraqis never came close to shooting any planes down — if they had, Iraq would have been invaded (again) much earlier than March of 2003. Bush was in fact desperate for just such a pretext for war, and at one point considered a scheme involving repainted American U2 reconnaisance planes to lure Saddam into providing Bush with a semi-legitimate casus belli.
Yes, I know that none of this will penetrate the skulls of anyone still making excuses for Bush after six years of his disastrous ineptitude. But I don't want the propagandists who programmed Mr. Branham to think that their bullshit would go unchallenged.