you see it? Right there, right under Tony Blair
and George Bush: During their press conference
Thursday, Fox News ran a continuous ribbon of
text at the bottom of the screen. It said, "THEY
ARE LYING TO YOU. FIRST, BRITAIN'S PRIME MINISTER,
STANDING BEFORE THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS, WILL
TELL A BIG FAT FIB AND THEN OUR PRESIDENT, STANDING
WITH HIM AT THE WHITE HOUSE, WILL STUTTER, SPUTTER
AND THEN LIE IN YOUR FACE."
OK, that's not the exact phrase that the Fox Network
ran, but that's what the text runner meant. While
Tony Blair thumped his chest and told congress,
"We promised Iraq democratic government - we will
deliver it," the ticker-tape at the bottom of
the TV screen said that our appointed chieftain
in Iraq, Paul Bremer III, had announced that there
would be no elections in Iraq - not until next
year, or later.
it was our President's turn. He used the phrase
"free Iraq" about half a dozen times. We know
Iraq is free because Mr. Bush explained, he has
just appointed Iraq's "governing council." The
puppet show, our president told us gleefully,
"is now meeting regularly." What about -- dare
I mention the word -- ELECTIONS? To ask during
a presidential press conference about the possibility
that Iraqis be allowed to vote is considered as
appropriate as passing wind at a debutante ball.
"Democracy," Mr. Bush wagged his finger, "will
take time to create." Indeed, it's only right
that free and fair elections in Iraq should wait
until after free and fair elections in Florida.
And THAT is not scheduled until after 2004.
Bush and Blair admonish us, is not something we
can rush into. Their point was illustrated this
week when, in a little noticed announcement, Bush's
man Bremer, who issues his dictates from Saddam's
old office, cancelled all local elections. Bremer
has decided that what Iraqis really needs now
more than the chance to chose their government
is an armed and unchallengeable strongman, himself.
the press conference, the questions moved from
democracy to Blair's and Bush's jointly written
work of fiction: the tale of Saddam's buying up
nuclear mud from the African nation of Niger.
The story was, as the English say, "bollocks,"
but George Bush gamely insisted that, "I strongly
BELIEVE [Saddam] was trying to reconstitute his
Bush used the term "believe" several times. It
seems that as a child, our President was awestruck
by the repetitive annunciation of faith to revive
Tinkerbell ("We believe in fairies, Tink! We really
BELIEVE!"). He is apparently unaware that the
decision to go war is supposed to be based, not
on beliefs, but on hard intelligence.
visibly squirmed through Bush's twisting and ducking
around the simple question of why Bush slithered
this African hot-dirt fable into the State of
the Union address.
with having to unmuddle the President's inchoate
response, Blair hiked up his eyebrows then fetched
up this stunner: "People don't generally know
in the 1980s that Iraq purchased 270 tons of uranium
from Niger." Indeed, people don't know that, Tony,
because your government and the US government
did it's damned best to cover it up. In the 1980s,
Saddam was OUR butcher in Baghdad, a buddy of
Ronald Reagan and Bush Senior. During my investigations
for BBC television, I discovered during the Reagan-Bush
years, Saudi Arabians gave Saddam, with a wink
and nod from the US and UK, $7 billion to build
a nuclear weapon so he could incinerate his enemy,
Iran. However, that was back before there was
an 'Axis of Evil' and Iran was the Unicycle of
that was today's news: no elections in Iraq, a
confession about Poppy Bush's old bomb for Saddam,
and photo ops of a boy and his lapdog.
you listened carefully, our president salted his
responses with some unintended truths. Standing
next to Blair, George Bush concluded, "Freedom
and self-government are hated and opposed by a
radical and ruthless few." Yes, George - I can
easily name two.
Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller,
The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. Subscribe to
his writings for Britain's Observer and Guardian
newspapers, and view his investigative reports
for BBC Television's Newsnight, at www.Gregpalast.com
Published: July 18, 2003