No one should have been surprised by President Bush's Veterans Day speech in Pennsylvania.
As JABBS wrote yesterday, new questions are being raised about whether Bush, Vice President Cheney and others in the White House inner circle made pre-war claims based on information provided by regarding Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, a captured Al Qaeda commander — information that the CIA and DIA said lacked credibility. This latest revelation backs up earlier news articles that suggest Bush, Cheney and others had made pre-war claims not supported by the National Intelligence Estimate.
It was clear that the White House would "hit back," as anonymous White House aides told CNN on Tuesday. Bush's speech, and the conservative noise machine that followed on various cable "news" channels, served that purpose.
But, in responding to the recent news, the president offered spin and straw men.
Bush, in his speech in Tobyhanna Army Depot in Pennsylvania., first indicated that he supported free speech:
BUSH: One of the hallmarks of a free society and what makes our country strong is that our political leaders can discuss their differences openly, even in times of war.
But then he qualified that:
BUSH: While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began. Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war.
And then he provided the straw man:
BUSH: As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them. Our troops deserve to know that this support will remain firm when the going gets tough. And our troops deserve to know that whatever our differences in Washington, our will is strong, our nation is united, and we will settle for nothing less than victory.
It's a crafty piece of speechwriting. The information revealed over the past few days says that the White House inner circle had information in 2002 that was ignored or misrepresented in making the case for war to Congress and the American people. While it supports information revealed nearly two years ago, the newest information, regarding claims made by al-Libi, was only recently made available to the press and the American people in the last few days. But in spite of this, Bush makes the false charge that Democrats are trying to "rewrite" history.