MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT Colin Powell
On February 5, 2003, then Secretary of State Colin Powell gave a largely fabricated speech to the UN Security Council that played a key role in providing the Bush administration with credibility to launch the ill-fated Iraq War. His "testimony" bolstered the trumped up charges that Iraq had amassed a large arsenal of weapons of mass destruction – and was an imminent nuclear threat. Powell's remarks also included the soon to be infamous accusation that Saddam Hussein had acquired yellow cake uranium from Niger.
The latter accusation resulted from a forged document operation run out of Dick Cheney's shop that eventually resulted in the White House outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame and the exposure of her intelligence network. It was an issue that BuzzFlash, along with David Corn (now of Mother Jones, but then working at The Nation), bird dogged until the CIA formally requested a criminal inquiry as to who damaged the national security of the United States by naming Plame to the late Robert Novak. On a number of occasions, BuzzFlash interviewed Plame's husband, Joe Wilson, who was the real target of a Rove/Cheney/Libby vendetta, because Wilson had exposed the yellow cake Niger charge as a fabrication.
Powell's UN speech was vital to the Neocon campaign to invade Iraq – pushed forward by Bush war hawks and the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) zealots, principally Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. Advocates for the war included members of both parties, but John McCain and Lindsay Graham were at the head of the line. In fact, both supported the Bush "surge" in Iraq and even have traveled to Iraq together in recent years backing a continued US presence there.
Of course, it is not surprising that at the time of Powell's speech -- and Condi Rice's similar claims -- that McCain and Graham were supportive of the fallacious charges. Jon Stewart nailed the hypocrisy of McCain and Graham the other night with resurrected videotape of their defense of Condi Rice in particular. This, of course, contrasts sharply with their continued vitriolic assaults on Susan Rice, who hasn't started any wars resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of people (including Iraqi citizens).
Ironically, when Powell – who has publicly regretted his UN testimony – supported Obama again this year, McCain did a triple flip and blamed the Iraq War – which McCain still supports – on Powell. Try and wrap your arms around that one!
As the Maddow blog commented:
Look, there's absolutely no doubt that Powell's U.N. presentation was the low point of his professional career. The Bush/Cheney administration used him, and sent him to present the world with a bogus case for an unnecessary war. The consequences were nothing short of tragic on a historic scale.
For Democratic and/or progressive critics of Powell to reference this horrific mistake makes sense. For John McCain to reference this to condemn Powell is bonkers.
On Capitol Hill, the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq had no greater cheerleader than the senior senator from Arizona.
As a friend reminded me this afternoon, when Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) issued an extraordinary warning on the chamber floor before the war began, it was McCain who boasted, "When the people of Iraq are liberated, we will again have written another chapter in the glorious history of the United States of America."
On October 23, 1983, 299 American and French soldiers were killed in a terrorist bomb blast in Beirut. They were serving as part of a Reagan administration led expeditionary force in Lebanon. It was the largest single-day US military death toll, up to that time, since the Vietnam War.
No one blamed the United States ambassador to the UN for the tragedy. In fact, Reagan and his cabinet rallied the nation against the "enemies" of the United States -- and Republicans and Democrats alike honored and paid tribute to the victims.
As someone recently asked: are McCain, Graham and Ayotte more concerned about politically damaging Rice and Obama than pursuing the perpetrators of the murders in Benghazi?
This is the third in a BuzzFlash at Truthout series on the Republican Benghazi assault. You can also read "John Kerry's Senate Seat May Be the Real Target of the GOP Benghazi Suicide Squad" and "GOP Senators Embraced Condi Rice as Secretary of State After She Ignored 9/11 Warnings, But Pummel Susan Rice."