As the White House and George Tenet in his new book attempt to spin the excuses for war in Iraq, the results of their decisions are still pouring in: Eight more dead soldiers and sailors with Washington state connections, now on our updated War Dead pages. They include the three sailors from Whidbey Island NAS who died in a single explosion, as did two soldiers from Fort Lewis. An Auburn soldier killed in Afghanistan also was added to the Operation Enduring Freedom page. The latest Fort Lewis soldier to die in Iraq, Pfc. Jeff Avery, 19, an MP, brought America's overall toll to 3,333 in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Washington state's toll to 188 in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Tenet today agrees finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq wasn't the slam dunk he thought it would be, pointing the finger at Dick Cheney and others for not being more cautious - though he and the White House still maintain Saddam was an enormous threat to America. (Would this be the same jittery leader who, pre-war, skittered from safe house to safe house every day to stay out of sniper/bomber range, and who woke up each morning patting himself to see if he was still alive?)
Killing off Al Qaeda was another reason for going to war in Iraq, even if it didn't exist there. Now, of course, thanks to Bush's war, it does. And that, Bush argues today, is why we have to stay there. How did Jon Stewart put it? We "invaded to remove the threat of Saddam Hussein" and now we "are there to battle the threat created by the lack of Saddam Hussein?" It was Bush who gave the final go-ahead, the "bring it on" decision, based mainly on the WMD claim. I've always imagined what another president - not so pea brained - would have said to Tenet. "Slam dunk? You mean you know where the weapons are? Give me the addresses. We'll send the inspectors there! Good God, what a relief. I was about to dispatch thousands of men and women to their deaths for no good reason!"