John Dean's Look at Bush

Nix From a Nixonian

"If Bush has taken Congress and the nation into war based on bogus information, he is cooked," John Dean, Richard Nixon's erstwhile White House counsel, wrote last week on findlaw.com. Dean was fired by Nixon, and his subsequent testimony before Congress on Watergate helped sink the president. "Manipulation or deliberate misuse of national security intelligence data, if proven, could be 'a high crime' under the Constitution's impeachment clause," added Dean. "It would also be a violation of federal criminal law, including the broad federal anti-conspiracy statute, which renders it a felony to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose."

Dean went on to set forth the evidence, consisting of Bush's statements on the war, which Bush may well have known were false when he made them. They are:

• "Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons." —September 12, 2002

• "Iraq has stockpiled biological and chemical weapons, and is rebuilding the facilities used to make more of those weapons." —October 5

• "We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons—the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have." —October 5

• "The Iraqi regime . . . possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons." —October 7

• "We know that the regime has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, VX nerve gas." —October 7

• "We've also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. We're concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVs for missions targeting the United States." —October 7

• "The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. Saddam Hussein has held numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, a group he calls his 'nuclear mujahideen'—his nuclear holy warriors. Satellite photographs reveal that Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past. Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons." —October 7

• "Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard, and VX nerve agent." —January 28, 2003

• "Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised." —March 17

Dean notes: "It's important to recall that when Richard Nixon resigned, he was about to be impeached by the House of Representatives for misusing the CIA and FBI. After Watergate, all presidents are on notice that manipulating or misusing any agency of the executive branch improperly is a serious abuse of presidential power. Nixon claimed that his misuses of the federal agencies for his political purposes were in the interest of national security. The same kind of thinking might lead a president to manipulate and misuse national security agencies or their intelligence to create a phony reason to lead the nation into a politically desirable war. Let us hope that is not the case."


Additional reporting: Phoebe St John and Joanna Khenkine

 
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