After watching my pre-recorded episodes of the Simpsons last night, I flipped through the channels looking for something to watch as I stalled going to bed. I landed on C-SPAN, which was showing a purple heart award ceremony. Seven men and women stood in front of the dias in their military fatigues to receive the award, their family members by their sides. Two men were in wheel chairs; a woman walked with a prosthetic leg. As the medals were awarded, family members softly wept. I did too.
This is not news, but it's worth being said: The war in Iraq has taken a terrible toll on our military members and their families. And, I found myself asking as I watched last night: To what end?
When Donald Rumsfeld beat the drum for war in 2002 and early 2003, I was doubtful of his claims of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons in Iraq and his claims of a link between Iraq and al Qaeda. Now, more than three years later, the press is finally highlighting the claims made before war and the reality that we now face - no weapons, no connection between Iraq and al Qaeda, massive loss of life and limb of Americans sent to "liberate" Iraqi people and of the Iraqis we're supposed to be liberating.
Times Union reporter Eric Rosenberg wrote an article that was published this morning (in the paper but not on their website) that details the claims Rumsfeld made before we went to war and the claims he's made since, denying the original claims.
At a forum in Atlanta last Thursday, Rumsfeld was challenged by a questioner. The questioner claimed that Rumsfeld had lied when he said that he knew where the weapons were located in Iraq in the days leading up the war. Rumself replied
"I did not. I said I knew where 'suspect' sites were."But Rosenberg's investigation on Rumsfeld's claims in 2002 and 2003 prove otherwise:
On March 30, 2003, 11 days into the war, Rumsfeld was asked in an ABC News interview if he was surprised that American forces had not yet found any weapons of mass destruction.Well, not exactly.
"Not at all," Rumsfeld said, according to an official Pentagon transcript. "The area in the south and the west and the north that coalition forces control is substantial. It happens not to be the area where weapons of mass destruction were dispersed. We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south, and north somewhat."
So, because of the deception, the claims of certainty that Hussein threatened the security of the United States, we went to war. But, the claims were false, and the war our men and women continue to fight is premised on false assumptions.
We can tell ourselves that we're fighting a war on terror, but it feels to me that we're fighting figments of Donald Rumsfeld's imagination. And the price we pay for that fight is precious life.