The credibility gap
Ultimately, history may
show that it was a good idea for the United States to invade Iraq and give
brutal dictator Saddam Hussein and his buddies the boot. It may turn out that
the United States did the right thing, even if it was for the wrong reasons.
However, ultimately is a
long, long time. Historical perspective won’t fall into place overnight.
In the meantime, President
George W. Bush and his administration have a problem that national commentators
have dubbed "The Credibility Gap."
If not resolved, the gap
could be a far greater threat to the trust between the governed and the
government than the gap in President Richard Nixon’s Watergate tapes ever was.
Before the United States
broke ranks with the United Nations, the nation watched and listened closely to
Secretary of State Colin Powell who presented evidence of Iraq’s looming
military threat to the world to the United Nations Security Council. Powell, a
much respected figure in this country, said evidence had been derived from
trustworthy sources and analyzed by experts.
Powell said the evidence—complete
with photographs shot from space satellites—showed that Saddam Hussein was up
to his black beret in development of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.
The polls showed that
Americans believed him. We still want to believe him.
Yet, with no weapons of
mass destruction found in Iraq to date, it’s time for hard questions.
The administration says
that finding weapons or production facilities is like looking for needles in a
haystack. The excuse rings more hollow with every day that passes.
It’s time for Americans
and our British allies to confront the difference between what we were told
about WMDs and what’s been found.
The gap raises serious
questions about whether the Bush Administration cherry-picked intelligence
Did the administration
choose data to make a convincing argument for a course of action it wanted
desperately to undertake for reasons that may not have been directly related to
Was American intelligence
Class A information, or something far less? If it was flawed, why was it flawed?
With the support of the
nation, the Bush administration put American credibility and lives on the line.
Its arguments and evidence garnered support for breaking ranks with other
democratic nations and for sacrificing American lives. They were the basis for
engaging in what will be a long, difficult and expensive occupation of a
The administration must
not simply brush off questions about the credibility gap. The answers could
profoundly affect American foreign and domestic policies.
The president and his
administration should welcome congressional hearings. Better yet, they could cut
them short if they show up with the goods.