Media Blog

Cynthia Tucker Wins Pulitzer for Commentary

Browsing through her recent work, I found this (UPDATE: Link appears to be broken. Try here.): 

Libby truly is not alone; liars fill Bush’s team

It’s too bad I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby is likely to be the only Bush-Cheney confidant prosecuted for an aversion to the truth. There are plenty of unindicted liars walking the halls of the Bush White House. […]

Bush administration apologists have tried mightily to make the case that the White House made an honest mistake about Saddam’s capabilities with weapons of mass destruction. They point out that most intelligence experts, here and abroad, believed that Iraq had amassed stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. That may be true. But it’s also beside the point.

The Bush team knew they could never have sold American voters on an invasion of Iraq just because Saddam had illicit weapons. So they decided to distort, dissemble and lie. The fabrications used to justify the invasion were those linking Iraq to al-Qaida, those claiming Saddam had unmanned drones that could be used to attack American cities, those declaring that Saddam was “actively and aggressively seeking to acquire nuclear weapons,” as Vice President Dick Cheney put it. […]

By the time of the invasion, most Americans supported the war. Of course, most Americans believed Saddam had been actively involved in Sept. 11 — which is exactly what Bush had intended.

Really? He must have worked awfully quick. On Sept. 13, 2001, a Time/CNN poll found that 78 percent of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to have been personally involved in 9/11.
Stupid Americans! Here their country has just been attacked by Arabs, and they immediately jump to the conclusion that a WMD-pursuing, suicide-terrorism-supporting, America-hating Arab dictator is involved.
Naturally, Bush and Cheney were eager to exploit this misapprehension. On Sept. 16, 2001, Dick Cheney said this on “Meet the Press” with Tim Russert:

MR. RUSSERT: Do we have evidence that he’s harboring terrorists?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: There is—in the past, there have been some activities related to terrorism by Saddam Hussein. But at this stage, you know, the focus is over here on al-Qaida and the most recent events in New York. Saddam Hussein’s bottled up, at this point, but clearly, we continue to have a fairly tough policy where the Iraqis are concerned.
MR. RUSSERT: Do we have any evidence linking Saddam Hussein or Iraqis to this operation?
VICE PRES. CHENEY: No.

Alas, these nefarious lies were not enough to sustain America’s mistaken post-9/11 conclusions about Saddam’s involvement. By September 2002, a CBS News poll found that the percentage of the public that believed that Saddam was personally involved in 9/11 had dropped to 51 percent. By March of 2003, just prior to the invasion of Iraq, the CBS poll found that number had dropped to 45 percent.
So, “By the time of the invasion… most Americans” – that is, a majority – did not “believe[] Saddam had been actively involved in Sept. 11,” despite the fact that a huge majority believed that in the days following the attacks.
What Tucker asserted in her column last month was an inaccurate and long-ago-debunked left-wing talking point. But that’s what passes for Pulitzer Prize-winning commentary these days.

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