Bush Knew That There Was No Connection between Iraq and 9-11

A story in the National Journal claims that President Bush knew ten days after 9-11 that there was no connection between Iraq and the attacks of 9-11. My response: big fat hairy deal!

This little tidbit of information would be important if the administration had ever claimed that Iraq was somehow directly involved in the 9-11 attacks, but neither the President nor the Vice-President ever said any such thing. Anyone who claims that the administration did make such a claim participates in cynical historical revisionism.

I wrote pretty extensively on this subject before the presidential election of 2004 (click here to read “Making a Staw-man out of the President’s Iraq Policy”). The Democrats were regularly making the claim that the Bush administration had lied to the American public by telling them that Iraq participated in the attacks of 9-11. I argued in 2004, and I argue now that no one can find any statement by any administration official to the effect that Iraq was directly behind the 9-11 attacks. To accuse the Bush administration of making such a claim is a dishonest rewriting of how the Iraq war began.

In the 2004 Vice-Presedential debate, John Edwards made this false charge against Vice-President Cheney. John Edwards said, “Listen carefully to what the vice president is saying. Because there is no connection between Saddam Hussein and the attacks of September 11th — period. The 9/11 Commission has said that’s true. Colin Powell has said it’s true. But the vice president keeps suggesting that there is” (source).

Yet the Vice-President’s response to Edward’s charge was very clear: “The senator has got his facts wrong. I have not suggested there’s a connection between Iraq and 9/11, but there’s clearly an established Iraqi track record with terror” (source).

So this article in the National Journal does not present anything new. The story resurrects a red herring that’s at least a year old. My guess is that the people who followed the red herring then will be more than eager to follow it now. Unfortunately, the group of gullible followers includes many mainstream media outlets. What a shame.

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Questions about the Safety of the Abortion Pill

In today’s New York Times:

Federal drug regulators have discovered that all four women in this country who died after taking an abortion pill [RU-486] suffered from a rare and highly lethal bacterial infection, a finding that is leading to new scrutiny of the drug’s safety. . .

Ms. Patterson died seven days after taking Mifeprex. She lived in Livermore, Calif.
On Dec. 29, 2003, Vivian Tran, 22, of Costa Mesa, Calif., died six days after taking Mifeprex.On Jan. 14, 2004, Chanelle Bryant, 22, of Pasadena, Calif., died six days after taking Mifeprex. And on May 24, 2005, Oriane Shevin, 34, of Los Angeles died five days after taking Mifeprex.

In each case, Clostridium sordellii infected the women’s uteruses, flourished and then entered their bloodstreams. The bacterium can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and weakness but may not induce fever, so victims often fail to realize how sick they are until it is too late and succumb to toxic shock. Antibiotics are often ineffective once an infection has flourished because even in death, the bacteria release toxins.

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Vice-President Cheney Makes the Case

In a speech yesterday, Vice-President Dick Cheney made the “two plank” WMD argument that I talked about in a previous post. Here is the relevant excerpt from the Vice-President’s speech (the parts in brackets are mine):

[1st Plank] Although our coalition has not found WMD stockpiles in Iraq, I repeat that we never had the burden of proof; Saddam Hussein did.
[2nd Plank] We operated on the best available intelligence gathered over a period of years and within a totalitarian society ruled by fear and secret police.

What this part of Cheny’s speech illustrates is that the Bush Administration’s WMD argument for the war had two planks. First, the administration argued that Iraq had failed to verify the destruction of its pre-1990 WMD stockpiles in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. Second, the administration argued that it had intelligence that indicated that Iraq was seeking to reconstitute its WMD programs, including is nuclear weapon program.

The first plank was a slam dunk. Everyone agreed and still agrees today that Saddam never accounted for all his old WMD stockpiles. Cheney argues that this plank by itself was a sufficient casus belli. The second plank is where the intelligence failures come in—failures that Cheney acknowledges “are plain enough in hindsight.” Nevertheless, Cheney is correct to claim that the war was justified on the basis of the first plank alone.

The Bush administration needs to re-educate the American public about how it made the case for war in 2002 and early 2003. Vice-President Cheney is right on the mark in arguing that the “burden of proof” was on Saddam Hussein to comply with U.N. resolutions (which he never did). Yet the President himself is going to have to make this case himself if he desires to penetrate popular public opinion.

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My ETS Paper

For those who read my blog, you may think that my only interest is politics. The truth is that following politics is more like a hobby. The thing that I am most serious about is the Bible. Yet most of what I write on biblical studies does not make it to this blog. That’s I why I am happy to share a paper that I presented on Thursday at the 57th Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. Here’s the link:

“N T Wright, Corinthian Sloganeering, and Paul’s Doctrine of the Resurrection in 1 Corinthians 6,12-20”

This paper is a work in progress. However, I received some good feedback at the meeting and hope to incorporate it into a revision. If any of you readers have any suggestions for improvement, I would highly appreciate hearing them.

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Russell Moore’s Review of New Johnny Cash Movie

One of the things that I love most about Russell Moore is his taste in country music. He is not nearly as much a Dixie-Chick-Keith-Urban country music fan as he is a George-Jones-Loretta-Lynn kind of a fan. He likes the old timey stuff.

That’s why I enjoyed reading his review of the new movie about Johnny Cash. Moore discusses the movie Walk the Line and generally gives it a good review. He also talks about Cash’s conversion which is not featured explicitly in the movie. The last paragraph of the review sums up Moore’s admiration for the late Johnny Cash.

My sons know Johnny Cash quite well because they hear his music around them all the time. My infant son’s lullaby each night is a Carter Family song. When they are older, we’ll watch Walk the Line. But we’ll follow it up with a reminder from Scripture that sums up Johnny and June more than celebrity can ever explain: They loved much for they were forgiven much. There was a Man in Black, not because of a marketing gimmick, but because he understood with lifelong pain what it means to descend into a “Ring of Fire” and to find a Deliverer on the other side.

Read “Walking the Line” by Russell Moore

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Tom Schreiner’s New Page


Dr. Schreiner and I on my graduation day (December 12, 2004)

I am so thankful to have had Dr. Tom Schreiner supervising me in my doctoral work. Throughout my time as his student he pushed me to be an exegete first and to let the scriptures alone have their say. He is an expert in his field, a godly man, and a great pastor to his flock.

That is why I am happy to direct you to his faculty page on Southern Seminary’s website which lists books, articles, book reviews, and editorials that he has written. Go check out his page, and take advantage of the many contributions this great man has made to biblical scholarship.

Tom Schreiner’s Faculty Page

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Who Is Lying About Iraq?

I cannot recommend highly enough Norman Podhoretz’s recent essay “Who Is Lying About Iraq?” (available in html and pdf). It is a singular word of sane analysis among a din of media reporting that merely parrots anti-war talking points. I have been writing about this topic a great deal lately because opponents of the Iraq War have been making hay out of Scooter Libby’s indictment (read here, here, here, and here). They have used the indictment to slander President Bush by claiming he lied in order to dupe the nation into going to war. Continue Reading →

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The New York Times Misses the Point Again (probably deliberately)

I am not surprised at the superficiality of an editorial in today’s New York Times. The editors at the Times are notoriously predictable in their knee-jerk defense of secularist liberal values. Unfortunately, this fact often means that they do not engage the real issues that are at stake in a given debate.

In the editorial “The Democrats and Judge Alito,” the Times once again shows its penchant for missing the point. The gist of the piece argues that “there is reason to believe that Judge Alito could do significant damage to values Democrats have long stood for.” It goes on to complain that “Alito showed as a federal appeals court judge – when he voted to uphold a Pennsylvania law requiring women to inform their husbands before getting an abortion – that abortion rights can be severely diminished even within the framework of Roe. The same thing could be true in other areas.”

In other words, the Times thinks that the Supreme Court exists to promote “values Democrats have long stood for.” This is precisely the point of contention between Republicans and Democrats over the role of the courts. Democrats think that Supreme Court Justices should promote values. Republicans believe that Justices should interpret the Constitution according to the framers original intent.

The editorial urges that “Democrats should put a heavy burden on Judge Alito to show that he would not do damage to the Constitution.” Yet it’s the Democrats who want Justices to bend the Constitution to whatever it is that promotes their values. Alito’s only aim as a Justice would be to apply the Constitution according to the framers’ intent. The only philosophy that “damages” the Constitution is the one that ignores it or distorts it. Yet this is precisely what a Justice would do if the Times had its way.

The Times does not acknowledge this debate. Common sense says that the only proper way to interpret a document is to try and figure out what the author of the document meant when he wrote it. Any mode of interpretation that ignores the author is fraudulent on its face. The Times knows that if Americans learn that liberals embrace justices who will ignore the authors of the Constitution, liberals will lose the debate over judicial philosophy.

Thus, this is a debate that the Times nor the liberals can afford to have.

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Finally, Bush Steps up to the Plate

Photo: Charles Dharapak/Associated Press

President Bush has been mute for far too long about the baseless charges being leveled at him by his political opponents. This silence has been very frustrating for those of us who have supported this president’s war policy. The silence on his part has given the appearance that everything that the critics of the war are saying is true and that there never was any legitimate basis for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Today in a speech marking Veterans Day, the President finally decided to step up to the plate and take a whack at the unfounded allegations that his critics have made against the case he made for the Iraq War. The “money line” from the speech was the following: “It is deeply irresponsible [of the Democrat critics] to rewrite the history of how that war began” (source).

I literally cheered when he said it. Finally, the President made of start of refuting the absolutely ridiculous and groundless accusation that he manipulated intelligence in order to mislead the U.S. into war. Not only did he defend his own policy, but he also drew attention to the hypocrisy of some of his loudest critics.

Many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: “When I vote to give the president of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hand is a threat and a grave threat to our security.” That’s why more then a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate, who had access to the same intelligence, voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power (source).

Of course, he is referring to John Kerry in this remark, and he is absolutely right for doing so. Somehow John Kerry got the anti-war vote in the last election, even though he himself supported the war! That so few of Kerry’s anti-war supporters acknowledged the inconsistency of their position reveals that their opposition to the President’s policy was more about politics than their own principles. I suspect that most of the opposition today is just as unprincipled as it was in the 2004 election.

I have been complaining in this blog about the misleading revisionism that has completely dominated recent public debate about the Iraq war. It’s not just the Democrats who have been misleading the public on this point. The mainstream media have gone right along in fabricating a storyline that has no basis in fact. Bush began retelling what actually happened in today’s speech.

Some Democrats and antiwar critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community’s judgments related to Iraq‘s weapons programs. They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein. They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction.

The paragraph above is very important. It’s a reminder that the president’s WMD argument was multi-faceted. The war wasn’t based merely on U.S. intelligence estimates about Saddam’s WMD. The legal premise of the war was actually based on Saddam’s defiance of a string of U.N. Security Council resolutions dating back to the first Gulf War. That defiance culminated in his refusal to comply with Security Council resolution 486 in the winter of 2002. This last slap at the U.N. became the legal causus belli (see my previous post on this point). Mainstream media outlets and Democrat critics of the war regularly leave this crucial piece out of the “history” of how the war began.

I am hoping that this is the beginning of a concerted effort by the President to re-educate the American public about how we actually got into this war. For too long the only voices that people have been hearing have been the voices of dissent. The President will go a long way towards winning this war if he can recapture the hearts and minds of Americans. To do that, he will need to give many more speeches like the one he gave today.

Touché, Mr. President!

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