The Truth About Iraq I: Tommy's Kids
Tommy, who was an ace 1st Cavalry Division helicopter mechanic, is one of my few surviving Vietnam veteran friends. I hadn't seen him in a couple of years and asked him how he was doing.
"Busy," he replied, "We're doing three or four funerals a week."
Tommy is a member of the color guard at an American Legion Post, which does its thing at funerals and memorial services for veterans, a fair number of them at the state vets cemetery, which is the final resting place of four former drinking buddies of Tommy and myself.
"Most of the fellas we bury are Vietnam era, but we get a few Korean and WW2 vets," Tommy explained, stretching each "W" as he said "WW2" as has always been his wont.
"Then there are the kids who get killed in Iraq. They're there ones who really hurt."
Some 2,423 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq, most of them kids, and yes, it really hurts.
There are a fair number of people who belong to the Let Bygones Be Bygones School, and I count among them a few of my otherwise righeteous friends.
These people acknowledge that the war in Iraq was built on a bloody tissue of lies, but say that we need to look forward and not back. America needs to find a way to extricate itself from a conflict that even the most optimistic observers now say may have a decade or more to run. Extricate with honor, of course.
I'm not buying.
The need to get to the bottom of those lies is urgent. It is no less important than understanding what happened at Pearl Harbor, in Vietnam or in apartheid South African or totalitarian Chilean, both of which went through the painful but necessary cartharsis that truth and reconciliation commissions can provide.
It is perhaps naive of me to think that those four drinking buddies would be alive today had there been an honest effort . . . hell, any effort to make a reckoning of the Vietnam War.
One of the four skippered a riverine boat straight out of "Apocalypse Now." He was involved in some unspeakably horrible sh*t and I'm not sure that the work of any bunch of officials would have eased the demons that populated his nights or the pain he carried through his days. Two others, I'm sure, died of exposure to Agent Orange. Ditto for them. The fourth drank himself to death. Ditto for him, too.That so noted, there cannot be a semblance of closure for the families of the kids that Tommy helps bury until the Bush administration is held accountable for its lies about Saddam Hussein's WMDs.
It has been well over two years since the Senate Intelligence Committee was charged with investigating these lies and there's little hope that will make a good-faith effort to do so at this late date without a lot of pressure.
That investigation is divided into five parts:
Were there any actual WMDs?Here's how to contact Robertson, other committee members and your own congressfolk. Tell them that the families of Tommy's kids deserve answers.
Why didn't Bush administration statements about WMDs reflect the actual intelligence?
The Pentagon, which has usurped intelligence functions that were the province of the CIA and other agencies, was behind the WMD canard. Is it's powerful and growing intelligence arm proper and legal? (This question takes on an added urgency with the sudden resignation of CIA Director Porter Goss.)
Did any of the bum WMD intelligence come from Ahmad Chalabi, the Iraqi exile leader that administration embraced and then distanced itself from?
Why did the administration fail to anticipate a disastrous post-invasion occupation?
Hell, we all do.