Bush is passing the buck

What happened to “The buck stops here?” Apparently in the Bush administration, it stops with the first convenient agency head.

That poses an interesting question: If Osama Bin Laden were caught, would Bush proclaim CIA Director George Tenet the hero?

Don’t bet on it.

And why not? Tenet fell on his sword for the President – it would only be fair for Bush to do the same. If one thinks as Bush does, Tenet is responsible for the debacle because he is the head of the organization that falsely claimed Saddam tried to buy uranium in Niger.

Ultimately though, Bush is the real chief of the CIA and everything else federal.

Yet he is eager to let the buck stop at Langley, and would have us believe that, in THE State of the Union, that the leader of the free world would argue for war in an internationally broadcast speech, but fail to verify each assertion therein.

The reason is painfully obvious to anyone who is willing to acknowledge it: claiming responsibility for faulty intelligence upon which the war and its “peacetime” quagmire was based, would be political suicide, in a time when an average of two soldiers die every day.

Yet the conservative apologists will say that Bush is not responsible for the CIA’s shortcomings. “He must rely on his deputies,” they say. Harry S Truman is probably rolling over in his grave.

The administration’s “mistake,” isn’t really one at all. It seems as if Bush and his yes men – even the widely respected Colin Powell – snatched a claim from thin air, professed it a grand threat to the security of every day, middle-class Americans, and sold it as imminent.

But not all of the blame rests with the Bush administration.

The Democrats, with the exception of Howard Dean, bear some culpability as well, since they lacked the gumption to vote against a war they should have questioned on principle, if nothing else.

Bush would have had us believing that without regime change, we’d have all been caught off guard in a horrible nuclear blast – and soon.

The chilling prospect of such a scenario is not altogether unrealistic, assuming that Saddam really was trying to get his hands on uranium. Had war been justified under the proper auspices, the story would be different.

But it wasn’t.

The Bush apologists will say: “It doesn’t matter! A dictator is gone!”

But it does matter.

It matters because Bush sold the war on the pretense that there was an imminent threat to each of us. It matters because our national credibility is now on the line. It matters because American soldiers were sent to their graves by a fortunate son who teased them into thinking their cause was liberty. Our men and women died based on a lie, and continue to do so everyday.

It was the most egregious presidential hoax since the Gulf of Tonkin claim; people paid for it with their lives.

That everyday Americans aren’t getting more upset with the false intelligence says something about the blind, post-9/11 mentality a lot of Americans possess: “You’re with us or you’re with the terrorists,” as Bush said.

Neither the U.S. nor the world works that way. The notion that one is unpatriotic unless he follows Bush’s lead is preposterous.

Those who held a deep affinity for this country’s values before nouveau patriotism was en vogue should be offended by today’s general unwillingness to question a questionable leader.

Daniel Drew and Keith Walker’s opinions are not necessarily those of this newspaper.