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W. David Jenkins: Behind The Mushroom Cloud

Behind The Mushroom Cloud

By W. David Jenkins III

“In today’s media, we seem to bring on the liars in order to balance the truth”
- NPR’s Bob Edwards June 2004

The news out of Washington the last few weeks reminds me of the opening scenes of “Saving Private Ryan.” Pandemonium, chaos and confusion from all directions and from all channels have left many Americans ducking for cover amidst the furious crossfire. And just when things seem to be quieting down long enough for Rita Crosby to head back to Aruba , it all starts up again.

It’s been a couple of days now since Patrick Fitzgerald held his press conference in the aftermath of “Scooter” Libby’s indictment and the conservative damage control machine has shifted into high gear. All of a sudden, perjury is just a “technicality” and obstruction of justice is much ado about nothing.

The hypocrisy of the right wing apologists has become so blatant that it blindsides the average viewer into the mistake of accepting that what happened two years ago was just politics as usual. Conservative pundits are redirecting people with the rationale that Rove’s dodging of a bullet (for now) somehow proves that Fitzgerald’s investigation was just a waste of time. In true conservative post-Katrina fashion, the right wing has gone into “blame the victim” mode as they try to swerve people’s attention to the Wilson’s “obvious” purely political motives in showing Americans that this administration lied to the world in their desire to start a war.

Because Fitzgerald stated that the investigation is not over just yet, it would seem that the conservative faithful are jumping the gun here. Rove isn’t “in the clear” as some would want us to believe and, to those who erroneously believe that nobody has been charged with outing a CIA agent, they are missing the basis of Libby’s indictment.

As Fitzgerald has pointed out, it is due to Libby’s obstruction of justice and perjury that the investigation into the senior White House sources who did out Valerie Wilson’s status as an agent hit the snag that it did. And again, Fitzgerald has stated that he’s not done yet. But along with cries of “criminalizing politics”, we now have people like William Safire stating that this is just a “cover up of a non crime.”

Y’know, you have to give these people credit for such creativity. Their rationalizing skills remind me of my six year old son with his arm in the cookie jar as he explains why he wasn’t really sneaking cookies.

In the days and weeks to come we will be treated with more of these explanations and redirections and, as the above quote by Bob Edwards states, the media will bring on the liars in order to balance the truth.

In 1917, California Senator, Hiram W Johnson supposedly stated that "The first casualty when war comes is truth". Now, almost a century later, the truth has been shown to be a pre-war casualty along with those who would endeavor to show people the truth. And therein lies the much overlooked issue that this investigation has shown to be as the modus operandi of the most corrupt administration ever to inhabit the White House. To put it simply, Bush and those who serve him have shown that they will do whatever pleases them and that they will lie in order to achieve support for those objectives. And, as this investigation has shown, they will set out to destroy anyone who would dare to expose them and their lies and they will lie should they be caught. This is what the American people must be reminded of until it finally sinks in.

The invasion of Iraq was the central focus of this Bush administration from the beginning. All they needed was a good enough reason even if that meant they had to invent one – which is exactly what they did. Connections to 9/11, connections between Hussein and bin Laden, weapons of mass destruction, yellow cake from Niger and imminent threats under the guise of “mushroom clouds” have all been shown to be part of the deception put forth by those who placed their own interests above the security of this country. Well, they now have their mushroom cloud - they just never expected it to go off inside the White House. Yet, even this provides a smoke screen to, what is in reality, the central issue. I’ll explain.

Hallstead , Pa. is a small town just below the N.Y. / Pa. border about twenty minutes from where I live. On October 3, the people of this rural community gathered together to support the families of six members of the 109th infantry who had lost their lives within days of each other in Iraq . This coming together of small communities in such tragic times is an almost daily activity these days as the death toll in Bush’s war of choice continues to rise. The devastation to these small town people is immeasurable in any instance, but to lose as many as six young men at once was to test the boundaries of pain – unnecessary pain. The pain of empty chairs at the dining table. The pain of a young father like Specialist Lee Wiegand who only saw his daughter for eleven days. It is tragedies like this that will continue behind the mushroom cloud in Washington .

Yet, Bush apologists will continue to equate the rising death toll in Iraq with the homicide rate in California or national statistics for drunken driving deaths. Such comparisons are a disgrace to the service and sacrifice born by our military and their loved ones because in order for these despicable examples to apply, Bush would have to have placed an innocent victim in the same room with a murderer or would have had to have forcibly poured alcohol into somebody before handing them the keys to the car. One can see how disrespectful these comparisons when they are put in proper context.

What happened in Hallstead and other communities across the country is due to leadership undeserving of the loyalty of those they command. Bush and Cheney chose this fight and have always been willing to sacrifice the blood of others – actual and metaphorical - for their own selfish gain. The sad and tragic effects suffered by those who have become victims of the drunken driver in the White House will scar this country forever.

Much to our shame, the “noble cause” which our brave military are dying for has been exposed as nothing more than lies and the destruction of those who would expose those lies. With all the chaos and cover up in Washington right now, we must never lose sight that our military deserved better.


Writer/Activist, W. David Jenkins III resides in upstate New York with his wife and two children. His article "The Death of America" was featured in the book, "The Girl with Yellow Flowers in Her Hair" by Lisa Walsh Thomas (Pitchfork Publishing ). He also contributed to the book, "Big Bush Lies" by Jerry Barrett due to be published in April 2004. Jenkins' writing is published on many political web sites and his website can be viewed here.


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