Magazine article The Nation

Bush's Credibility Gap

Magazine article The Nation

Bush's Credibility Gap

Article excerpt

"There's going to be ample time for the American people to assess whether or not I made good calls," George W. Bush told Meet the Press host Tim Russert in their recent one-on-one. But if Bush has his way, he's not going to do anything to help the American people--or the global community--assess his credibility before he stands for re-election. The commission he has appointed to review the faulty prewar intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction will not report its findings until March 2005, months after the election. (There are other problems with the commission; it is co-chaired by federal Judge Laurence Silberman, a champion of right-wing activism, and so far it has few members with experience in intelligence matters.) This means there may well be no official body that issues a pre-election judgment on whether Bush and his aides dishonestly overstated Iraq's WMD threat to whip up public support for an elective war.

Bush's credibility has become an issue of late. He has not been able to explain his prewar assertions about Iraq's weapons (or, similarly, his phony budget projections designed to hide massive deficits). And that credibility gap undermines US security. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan recently noted that the missing WMDs have led to international skepticism concerning US intelligence, and that may make it harder for Washington--or the UN--to win support for necessary actions in the future. "The bar has been raised," Annan warned. "People are going to be very suspicious when we try to use intelligence to justify certain actions." Testifying in Congress, Margaret Tutwiler, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, said that America's image abroad has become so tarnished in recent years that "it will take us many years of hard, focused work" to refurbish it. …

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