John Dean: Lying about WMD could dwarf Watergate

Yes, another WMD thread. Different angle (I hope). John Dean (of Nixon counsel during Watergate fame) is far from a left-wing rabble rouser. He is one who probably knows a scandal when he sees it. He writes on CNN:

(bolding mine)
The WMD search goes on, and it is gradually becoming obvious that no large scale program will be found. It either has been erased or moved or never existed. John Dean points out some very direct comments Bush made on WMDs. These include statements without hedges in them:

If this turns out not to be the case, this statement is thousands of times more repugnant than the vile “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” quote.

I personally agree with this column to the letter. Leading a nation into war is the most important and dire thing a president can do. If WMDs don’t pitch up, he acted on bad information. At the very least, this shows a profound lack of judgement from the President. In all likelihood, he deliberately misled America and her allies, and brought us a war (and reconstruction) costing tens of billions of dollars (minimum), with a cost of many thousands of lives.

I’m not arguing that Saddam should have been left in power. We all agree he was a Very Bad Man. Overthrow of Saddam has potential to be a major turning point for the better for the entire region. This does not change my opinion that fabricating a casus belli is the worst possible thing a President can do, far worse than committing domestic criminal acts to sabotage political enemies. As John Dean points out, it rises to the level of conspiracy or “high crime”.

So, without WMDs, do you think that this is impeachable? If evidence of knowing misinterpretation and falsification of data comes out, do you think that the President could be in for some legal fireworks? Do you think that this could rise to the level of an impeachment?

I believe this is the drone in question, and IIRC it was eventually declared harmless by the UN inspectors.

With a Republican-controlled Congress? I’m not holding my breath.

Doesnt’ matter that much. If the proof is there, the REpublicans will turn on Bush just like they did on Nixon in the end.
The Republicans aren’t stupid. If the public completley turns against Bush, they don’t want to go down with him.

Never happen. If it happens, I’ll gladly eat the hat of your choosing.

It all depends on public opinion. Right now the war is popular and polls say a majority don’t care about WMD.

However if significant quantities of WMD aren’t found by next year and there is continued media criticism on the issue and if there are still 150,000+ US troops in Iraq getting shot at and the public finds out that the post-war occupation is costing 10-20 billion dollars a year, I could well-imagine the public souring on the Bush administration and the war. Particularly if the economy is still sluggish. I don’t think Bush would be impeached but I could imagine him doing a Johnson and announcing that he won’t run again.

Incidentally if the public sours on the war this would have a big effect on the Democratic primaries with Dean being the obvious beneficiary.

Let’s see, Clinton said Iraq had wmd’s, the UN said Iraq had wmd’s, France, England, Iran said Iraq had them. Iraq stopped UN inspectors at gun point in 98 from searching buildings thought to have WMD’S. So your right, George w Bush should be impeached because he made the whole thing up. The WMD’S never did exist, never mind those thousands of people dead from the stuff. It is all Bush’s fault.

I highly doubt that Bush will be impeached for “acting on bad information” about WMD. If handled right, the Democrats could use it to oust him from power in the '04 elections.

OK, one more time:

If the WMDs existed, and the purpose of our war in Iraq was to keep them from falling into the hands of terrorists, how come the Bush/Rumsfeld war plan made securing prospective WMD sites a low priority, allowing the sites to be looted before we could ascertain what was there?

If everyone was right about the WMDs’ existence, then Bush is responsible, and Rumsfeld directly responsible, for the fact that we don’t know who now possesses them, let alone where they are. Isn’t that exactly what we were going to war to prevent??

Many a truth is said as jest.
Responding to the OP: if there weren’t WMDs in Iraq, then this may be bigger than Watergate, but not much so. Dubya should be impeached, but won’t be because the Congress is GOP-controlled.

But if there were WMDs, and the failure of the Bush-Rumsfeld war plan to even try to secure them once Saddam couldn’t, turns out to have enabled them to fall into terrorist hands, then when the formerly Iraqi WMDs are used against US citizens, people won’t want to have Bush impeached. They’ll want to have him lined up against a wall and shot.

So yeah, this could dwarf Watergate. Let’s hope it doesn’t.

That would be Howard Dean, right, as opposed to John Dean who wrote the article being discussed?

I believe that John Dean of Nixon’s time is deceased. I think he died 2 years ago.

Well, I think we need to distinguish between two types of activity here: domestic and international. International hijinks never seem to trigger the type of indignation that domestic ones do. With LBJ we had Gulf of Tonkein, with Nixon we had the Cambodia bombing and the deception about how well the war was going, with Reagan we had Iran-Contra. Sure, investigations were conducted in some cases, scapegoats found in some cases, and a lot of blustering and rhetoric, but nothing ever rose to the level of impeachment.

For Nixon (I realize, not impeached) his downfall came from an organized campaign of intimidation aimed at undermining the electoral process. It consisted of a lot more than just a burglary at the Watergate hotel. There was witness intimidation, stealing confidential psychiatric records, misuse of the office for personal political power, etc, etc.

For WJC, it was once again domestic hijinks. Lying to the independent counsel about personal relations, travelgate, whitewater, etc. etc.

I’m not passing judgment on the veracity of these charges in this post. My point is that if the issue relates solely to international politics, there never seems to be much movement for impeachment. It’s only if the issues moves into the domestic arena, that we’ve seen calls for impeachment.

My personal belief is that this is because a lot of Americans tend to view our leaders as acting in our best interests with regards to the international scene. So, the “I did what I had to do to ensure American interests” sits well with a large segment of the population. However, using the office for domestic personal gain is viewed as an affront to the American people, and they would then move to bring down the President.

So, the only way I could see this rising to the level of impeachment is if somehow this gets tied to direct personal gain for Bush in a very concrete way. I’m not talking about things like getting donations from Haliburton, but if let’s say Bush and co. had worked out some complex plan for personal financial gain tied to the invasion, then that could certainly undo him. Barring that, I don’t see much else happening.

No. It’s the same guy.


If the point of your post of that link with no comment was to show that Newsmax actually does make Fox News look fair and balanced by comparison, then you have succeeded admirably.

Nothing screams journalistic quality like having a vitamin ad as the third headline on the front page.

The Watergate scandal grew slowly. The break-in was in June of 1972 and Nixon resigned from office in August, 1974. Believe me, there were plenty of Republicans anxious to get to the truth of the matter and to get Nixon out of office. Senator Howard Baker comes to mind. The Republicans knew that revelations about Nixon were reflecting poorly on the party. But more importantly, it was a matter of integrity.

I think people of integrity in both parties will want answers on this one and that John Dean is correct in his accessment that this has the potential for making Watergate pale in comparison.

Who knows? They may yet find the weapons. If not, Saddam may have his revenge on Bush.

If they find weapons (not just a few suspicious vans or mobile labs), then I will be the first to admit that I was wrong. I hope that they do, because the alternatives are very ugly. Either they never existed or they were moved out of the country. Either reflect enormously poorly on the administration. I’m not “hating on Bush” here – any administration that bungled something so important would be the target of my ire.

To respond to BrightNShiny
The Gulf of Tonkin incident and the bombing in Cambodia were certainly bad spots in US foreign policy. They occured in the context of an already existing war (although Gulf of Tonkin was certainly an excuse to ramp up the conflict). Iran Contra did not directly cause the death of Americans, although it too was a bleak moment for the US.

If WMDs are not found in Iraq, we have just based an entire war on very bad, misconstrued, or just false intelligence. I cannot think of one instance in American history where such a thing has happened before. Sure, there have been little missteps and setbacks and bungles. At times, they have been bloody – the Bay of Pigs, the encouragement of the Hungarian 1956 uprising, the encouragement of a Kurdish uprising in Southern Iraq. But American lives were not the ones put on the line. Sure, it shouldn’t make any difference. But in realpolitik terms, these have nowhere near the impact on American politics.

Basing a war on false premise puts us into very bad company. I don’t want to Godwin here, but let me just say Czechoslovakia and German Danzig should come to mind pretty rapidly. (No I am not comparing our regime to the Nazis, it is just the two that I thought of first).

To those that claim that it was bad intelligence, Bush and company has had ample time to restructure our entire intelligence gathering community after the miss at 9/11. In this war on terrorism, we depend on intelligence more than anything else. This would be a major failing, and he should be held accountable as well.

“Remember the Maine!”

Ya got me. I retract that statement.

“That would be Howard Dean, right, as opposed to John Dean who wrote the article being discussed?”
The latest statements by John Dean will earn him some points with the Dems but probably not enough to make him a primary contender.:wink:
Your point about the importance of actually securing the WMD(if they exist) is of vital importance and I am mystified as to why it’s not receiving the attention it deserves. Bush gets away with statements like saying that the regime is no longer there and therefore won’t be in a position to pass weapons to terrorists.
Huh??? Why do you need a regime to pass weapons to terrorists? Baathist die-hards are still fighting and if the WMD have been brilliantly hidden ,as claimed by some, there is no reason to believe that they can’t access them and pass them to terrorists now. In fact now that there is no regime which can be retaliated against by the US, their incentives to do this have increased. If Iraqi WMD exist, war has increased the chances that terrorists will obtain them.

Before the war I tended to believe that Iraq did have some biological and chemical weapons but I opposed the war ,among other reasons, because I didn’t see any realistic possibility of the US securing all the weapons after the regime fell and didn’t see any good reason to take the risk that that those weapons would then be obtained by terrorists. Even so it was stunning that the administration barely made an effort to secure the weapons sites and allowed many of them to be looted. Your interpretation that this is because they knew that there were no WMD is looking increasingly possible.

They were either dishonest or incompetent or both ; it’s hard to see any other possibility.