Americans must examine their leaders

An official in the Bush administration allegedly leaked the name of an undercover CIA agent, endangering her life and effectively ruining her career.

In his State of the Union address, President Bush justified starting the war in Iraq with the now-controversial claim that Iraq had bought uranium, an ingredient it needed to create its still-conspicuously missing weapons of mass destruction. Interestingly enough, the man who said this claim was a lie is married to the aforementioned CIA agent.

Before the war in Iraq, the administration created a secret government task force to study Iraq’s oil industry. Even though the task force issued a report detailing a weak oil industry damaged by a decade of embargos, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz testified in front of Congress that Iraq could finance its own reconstruction with revenue from its oil industry, according to a report in Sunday’s New York Times article “Report Offered Bleak Outlook on Iraq Oil.” This contradictory statement is just being uncovered as the administration asks Congress for a $20.3 billion check for Iraq’s reconstruction in the coming year alone.

As these facts come to light, Americans must consider this administration’s credibility and integrity. In addition to these cases, there are other alleged misdealings in which members of this administration, and possibly the President himself, might have been complicit.

For example, Congress still does not know what occurred during Vice President Dick Cheney’s secret Energy Task Force Meetings two years ago, including the roles played by such politically connected companies as Halliburton, Dick Cheney’s old company, and Enron, the poster company of corruption. The awarding of expensive oil contracts in Iraq to Halliburton and other companies should also be investigated.

And it is still unclear exactly why members of the Bush administration ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to lie about public health conditions in Lower Manhattan after Sept. 11, 2001. The EPA’s own inspector general issued a report last August saying White House officials had instructed the EPA to tell New Yorkers that their air was safe to breathe, even though deadly contaminants were still present.

Many Republicans will defend the Bush administration against this frighteningly long list of charges, attributing them to a desperate Democratic Party longing to grab the White House back in 2004.

I almost wish those on the right were, in fact, right. This list of alleged scandals is long indeed, and the fact that a single administration could have committed all these crimes warrants investigation. Too often, the administration has stonewalled investigators by invoking concerns of national security and executive privilege.

Frankly, I don’t want the mess and political fighting that comes with an independent counsel investigation and an impeachment in this country. I would like to think Congress has more important things to do — like helping the struggling economy recover from the biggest deficit this country has seen; devising an exit strategy for American troops dying in Iraq; and fixing the country’s health care system, which leaves 43.6 million people, or approximately 15.2 percent of all Americans, uninsured, according to a Census Bureau report released Sept. 30, 2003.

Yet the political precedent we set by ignoring the activities of the Bush administration is more dangerous than the alternative. It signals to any presidential administration — Democratic or Republican — that it is acceptable, and even normal, to lie to the American people and to endanger their health and safety, both at home and abroad, for political gain.

It is imperative that there be investigations of these allegations. The investigations might not lead to impeachment proceedings for Bush, but that cannot be ruled out until we learn the truth. If the American people do not question their leaders given the amount of evidence of possible misconduct, they do a disservice to their country and themselves.



Alissa Stollwerk is a sophomore in Saybrook College

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