When will Americans hold the guilty accountable?
By Linda S. Heard
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Oct 5, 2006, 00:32

Imagine what would happen to a corporate CEO who overspent his budget to the tune of billions.

Let's say he couldn't account to the shareholders for billions more. And let's suppose he initiated a project under false pretences that ended up causing workers and passersby to lose their lives on a daily basis.

For one thing he would be sacked and for another he would, without doubt, end up in jail. Unless, of course, he had explained to the court that he was merely carrying out the Creator's instructions in which event he'd probably end up in a straightjacket.

There is no one who could get away with such behaviour unless they're someone who doesn't have a boss and who is entirely above the law. Someone like US President George W. Bush, for instance, who sent his country's troops into Iraq to look for nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, to root out nonexistent al Qaida-related terrorists and finally to award Iraq's citizens nonexistent sovereignty, freedom and democracy.

There is a difference of course. Whereas a company's board and shareholders would be foaming at the mouth at the antics of such a charlatan, the people to whom the president is answerable are woefully silent despite a mass of evidence that proves his pet project was a terminal failure.

Setting aside the dodgy dossiers, the forged Niger documents, the proven false reports that Saddam Hussain had links to Osama bin Laden and leaked memos that show intelligence was fixed around the objective, why is nobody screaming about the findings of a slew of recently published reports on the status quo?

Why aren't American taxpayers up in arms about the $505 billion of their money that has been spent so far in Iraq? Why aren't American mothers and wives concerned about the 2,700 soldiers that have been killed to date, the 20,000 injured or the untold thousands suffering from post-traumatic stress?

I won't even bother to appeal to Bush devotees about the untold numbers of Iraqi dead or tortured, bearing in mind the observation of George Orwell who wrote: "The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them."

One can only imagine they believe the president's message that it's all for a good cause. He says as long as America stays the course in Iraq, the US will be safe. If we fight the "terrorists" in Iraq then they won't come here, he says. There's one small problem. A leaked classified National Intelligence Estimate compiled by 16 US intelligence agencies states "The Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse."

More, a report from the CIA indicates "Iraq has become a cause c�l�bre for jihadists," while a report from the Pentagon suggests "Iraq is tipping towards civil war."

These gloomy US findings that contradict the official White House line come hard on the heels of a report by the British think tank Chatham House that concluded the only winner from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was Iran. This is because Iran's main rivals, Saddam Hussain and the Taliban, were ousted thanks to the US-led "war on terror."

Now Bob Woodward, one of two reporters who exposed Nixon's Watergate scandal, has weighed-in by publishing a book, titled State of Denial, that describes the Bush administration as dysfunctional and fractured.

On the subject of Iraq, Woodward is particularly illuminating. He claims that in 2005 Bush was determined to keep US troops in Iraq and reports him as saying even "if Laura and Barney [Bush's dog] are the only ones who support me."

In the dark

Woodward further asserts the Bush administration has deliberately kept the American people in the dark when it comes to the level of violence suffered by US troops. To support this contention he cited a May 2006 intelligence assessment that the Iraqi insurgency was proliferating even as Bush was boasting publicly of progress.

The facts speak for themselves. Iraq is in free fall. Iraqis are dying at the rate of over 100 per day; 7,000 in August and September alone. More than 200,000 have been displaced from their homes due to sectarian violence and threats. Some 60 percent of Iraqis are without jobs. Those who are lucky enough to work are paid only $150 to $200 a month. Inflation is running at over 40 percent.

At the same time the Iraqi government and the various groups are divided over the future of Iraq. Many Kurds, including the Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, seek an autonomous Kurdish state that would include the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, protected by permanent US bases.

Leader of the SCIRI Party Abdulaziz Al Hakim would like autonomy for nine Shiite provinces, whereas the firebrand Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr is vehemently opposed to splitting up Iraq, which would leave the capital and the area around it devoid of oil revenue.

But 75 percent of all Iraqis are united on one issue. They want the Americans and the rest of this sad circus to go now. And who can blame them? It's time to forget Colin Powell's pottery barn rule "if you break it, you own it." Bush broke Iraq into smithereens but the only ones who have any chance of piecing those shards together are the Iraqis themselves.

Linda S. Heard is a British specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes feedback and can be contacted by email at

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