Mr. Bush, Tear Down This Wall!
Exactly 42 years ago today, Berliners woke up to find themselves living in a divided city. Troops in East Germany had sealed the border between East and West Berlin, thus shutting off the escape route for thousands of refugees from the East. Barbed wire barricades up to six feet high were erected during the night, train services between the two sectors of the city were cut, and all road traffic across the border was stopped.
Thousands of angry demonstrators quickly gathered on the West Berlin side of the divide. The West German Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, appealed for calm, saying in a broadcast to the nation: “Now, as always, we are closely bound to the Germans of the Russian zone and East Berlin. They are and remain our German brothers and sisters. The Federal Government remains firmly committed to the goal of German unity.”
The erection of the wall was, of course, a flagrant violation of East-West agreements and therefore illegal. For 28 years it stood as a stark symbol of the Cold War. When then-President Ronald Reagan traveled to Berlin on May 12, 1987, his mission as a life long anti-Communist was clear. His memorable speech contained these lines: “General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
No one could imagine how quickly Reagan’s challenge to the Soviet President would be realized. The wall “came tumbling down,” its pieces ending up in museums and safe deposit boxes worldwide (including mine).
It seems clear to me that America today faces a political crisis every bit as serious as the one facing West Germany in 1961. President George W. Bush has erected a wall of distrust between himself and the American people. Mr. Bush told us that Iraq was a nuclear threat and that it was trying to purchase uranium. “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa,” Bush said in his State of the Union address last January. Of course, his statement was technically correct, since it accurately reflected the British position. But the bottom line is that the White House knowingly included in a presidential speech information its own intelligence agencies had explicitly warned might not be true. They dropped their objections only when Bush promised to state explicitly that the intelligence came from the British.
As the British paper the Guardian Unlimited reported, on July 11, Gregory Thielmann, who was a director at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence until his retirement in September, held a press conference to accuse the White House of misusing intelligence to build a spurious case for war. Thielmann, who had access to classified information, said, “I believe the Bush administration did not provide an accurate picture to the American people of the military threat posed by Iraq.”
If making false statements about sex became the grounds for the last presidential impeachment, how much more serious is the mishandling of evidence leading to an invasion that has cost hundreds of American lives. Moreover, for the first time in history, the United States embraced a doctrine of pre-emptive war. The rationale cited by Bush for the invasion was that we were threatened by WMDs, even though the U.S. intelligence agencies and United Nations weapons inspectors found no hard evidence that they still existed in Iraq, let alone that Iraq intended to use them against us or its neighbors. As a Washington Post story on June 7 stated, “senior administration officials, including President Bush, expressed certainty in public that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons, even though U.S. intelligence agencies were reporting that they had no direct evidence that such weapons existed.”
The fact is that neither Bush nor British Prime Minister Blair had any solid proof that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The public in both nations therefore has the right to demand a truthful accounting of whether or not the intelligence agencies provided a truthful analysis of Iraqi WMDs or whether the estimates were cooked for political purposes.
In Ezekiel 13:14 the Lord said, “I will break down the wall,” referring to the deceptive vision and lies of the false prophets who had announced peace when there was none. The tools of God’s wrath against the wall— whitewashed though it was—were rain, hailstones, and a stormy wind, resulting in the laying bare of its foundation and the destruction of those who had erected it. In the terrible words of Ezekiel 13:15, “The wall is no more, nor those who daubed it.”
Mr. Bush, it’s time to come clean about Iraq. A wall of distrust exists between you and the American public, and whitewashing it will only aggravate the problem. There is only one thing to do, and that is to tear down this wall.
August 13, 2003
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.