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"A year from now, I'll be very surprised if there is not some grand square in Baghdad that is named after President Bush."

So said high-ranking Pentagon advisor Richard Perle on September 22, 2003.

This quote was brought back into memory by some journalists as the year-later mark passed (e.g. the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's "Snark Attack" column), because things have worked out so dramatically differently, what with Bush's own National Intelligence Estimate finding "trend lines that would point to a civil war." (AP, Sept. 15) It also didn't help that that the intelligence report came just as US dead in Iraq passed the 1,000 mark. Insurgents control Fallujah and much of the Sunni Triangle, while battles rage for Baghdad's Shi'ite stronghold of Sadr City. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has even broached holding Iraq's scheduled January elections without first winning full territorial control of the country. (AP, Sept. 30) The administration has announced that it is massively shifting funds slated for Iraq's reconstruction to "security" efforts. Multibillion cuts were announced in water, sewage and electricity projects, while Baghdad is already suffering from a hepatitis outbreak. (OneWorldNet, Sept. 30) Suicide bombings, of course, continue nearly daily.

In Bush's efforts to paint rosy scenarios over both Iraq and Afghanistan, he appears to be getting his facts even wronger than usual. On Sept. 23, when he held a joint Rose Garden press conference with Iraq's interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, he twice claimed that some 100,000 members of the new Iraqi army have been trained by the US.

Exhibit one:

"Iraq must be able to defend itself. And Iraqi security forces are taking increasing responsibility for their country's security. Nearly 100,000 fully trained and equipped Iraqi soldiers, police officers, and other security personnel are working today. And that total will rise to 125,000 by the end of this year. The Iraqi government is on track to build a force of over 200,000 security personnel by the end of next year. With the help of the American military, the training of the Iraqi army is almost halfway complete."

In exhibit two he also evidently gets Iraq and Afghanistan confused:

"Our strategy is to help the Iraqis help themselves. It's important that we train Iraqi troops. There are nearly 100,000 troops trained. The Afghan [sic] national army is a part of the army. By the way--it's the Afghan [sic] national army that went into Najaf and did the work there. There's a regular army being trained. There are border guards being trained. There are police being trained. That's a key part of our mission."

This claim also turned up in the Sept. 30 presidential debate, in which Bush said:

"Uh, first let me tell you that the best way for Iraq to be safe and secure is for Iraqi citizens to be trained to do the job. And that's what we're doing. We've got a 100,000 trained now [sic], 125,000 by the end of the year, over 200,000 by the end of this year [sic]. That is the best way." (NYT, Oct. 1)

Few journalists noted the discrepancy, but a Sept. 29 AP story stated: "The Pentagon says there are 39,000 trained Iraqi National Guard members and about 4,800 trained Iraqi Army soldiers."

Maybe Bush was thinking of the number of US troops in Iraq, which currently stands at around 135,000 (plus some 25,000 coalition troops), and does indeed seem poised to expand in the year to come.

A few more journalists noted Bush's comment in the days leading up to the debate that "As a result of the American military, the Taliban is no longer in existence." (Paul Krugman in the New York Times, Oct. 1; Robert Parry on, Oct. 2)

Guerrillas from the ousted Taliban regime killed at least 12 soldiers in Afghanistan's southern Zabul province on Sept. 30, reported Reuters, noting "a sharp escalation of violence ahead of next month's landmark presidential election." Seven more Afghan soldiers had been killed in Taliban attacks in Zabul earlier in the week. Taliban spokesman Hamid Agha told the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press agency that the militia was also responsible for the previous day's rocket attack on a German peacekeeping base in the northern city of Kunduz which wounded four foreign troops. "All people and forces helping America will come under attack from us," Agha said. (Reuters, Sept. 30)

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Sept. 30 that "night letters" signed "The Taliban" have been left on mosque doors in Uruzgan in central Afghanistan, declaring that "holy war has been declared against the infidel" and warning that any Afghans collaborating with the US will be "punished."

One possible explanation for Bush's increasingly tenuous grasp of the facts is that he is simply hallucinating. The Washington Post reported Nov. 10, 2003 on a conversation between Secretary of State Colin Powell and Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed, a reporter from the London paper Arab View, in which Powell said "everybody" in the administration is using the pharmaceutical Ambien (zolpidem tartrate).

"So do you use sleeping tablets to organize yourself?" Al-Rashed asked.

"Yes. Well, I wouldn't call them that," Powell said. "They're a wonderful medication--not medication. How would you call it? They're called Ambien, which is very good. You don't use Ambien? Everybody here uses Ambien."

The blog Unknown News, which picked up the Washington Post piece, ran a list of potential Ambien side effects, which included (along with "dizziness," "nausea," etc.) "hallucination."

(Bill Weinberg)


Special to WORLD WAR 3 REPORT, Oct. 4, 2004
Reprinting permissible with attribution

Reprinting permissible with attribution.