McDermott: Bush misled U.S.

by Robert Kimmitt | 4/29/03 5:00am

Congressman James McDermott (D-Wash.) delivered scathing criticism of the Bush administration and its foreign and domestic policies yesterday, calling the war in Iraq "unnecessary."

In his speech entitled "True Costs of War in Iraq," McDermott said the war happened because of a massive campaign of deceit and will have far-reaching effects on funding for domestic projects.

"The secondary cost of this war is what is not available to deal with problems here at home," he said. "During every previous war, we've raised taxes; but for this war, we're reducing them."

In his view, there was an effort by the Bush administration to deceive the American people into believing that war was necessary, thus keeping them happy with their leaders for having won the war and distracting them from domestic economic troubles and program cuts. McDermott mentioned reduced funding in the future for the federal Pell Grant program, which gives aid to college students to pay for tuition.

He compared the ongoing deceit to that seen in Vietnam. He said the Bush administration is able to manipulate people in part because of the "emotional shock" that the country felt after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

"I have said from the beginning that the president will lie to get us to go to war," McDermott said. "It is quite clear that the president misled us. This is Vietnam all over again. [President Bush] is telling us the same thing Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon did."

One of these "lies" was the assertion by the Bush administration that reconstruction in Iraq will not cost the American people anything but will instead be paid for by oil revenues. Oil will only create $22 billion in revenue annually, he said, which is not nearly enough for reconstruction, especially after Iraq's $100 billion debt and its required reparations to Kuwait and Iran are considered.

He spoke of another discrepancy in comments by various members of the Bush administration about a post-Hussein government in Iraq.

The administration has repeatedly said that they want to let the people of Iraq choose their own leaders. However, McDermott noted that Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense, has said that the people of Iraq voting for a theocratic government similar to Iran's "would not be an acceptable outcome."

He went further to say that members of Congress are also victims of the administration's deceptions, which explains why many liberal representatives are not speaking out against the war.

"Where the hell are the Democrats?" he asked. "Every member of Congress felt the same moment of terror on the morning of September 11," when many believed that another plane was headed for the Capitol.

The war in Iraq was a result of an "overturning of foreign policy" after the Sept. 11 attacks, McDermott said. He named several "stupid," unprovoked military operations by the United States in the 20th century, including Nicaragua, El Salvador and Grenada, but noted that the war in Iraq goes a step further by making preemption an official, stated doctrine.

He also asserted that the media does not cover both sides of this issue and is thus a part of the deceit.

"If a Congressman stands on the steps of the Capitol and says flat-out that the president is lying, why wouldn't the media cover that, even if to show how crazy it was?" he said. "They didn't want this story to get legs."

McDermott went to Iraq with Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) and Rep. David Bonior (D-Mich.) in 2002 to meet with Iraqi leaders, and he said that the massive amount of bad press that he received is another example of biased media, which labeled him "Baghdad Jim."

McDermott conceded that his comments were politically very dangerous.

"I might not be reelected," he said. "I am willing to lose. This [struggle] is for the whole bag of marbles."

The speech was sponsored by the Dartmouth Greens and Why War. It was delivered in Dartmouth Hall to an audience of about 100 people, most of who were students.