outhash

Santorum Dissembles, Just Like His Role Model

By Mike Walsh
Published in 2003 in Philadelphia Weekly.

If you send a message to Senator Rick Santorum urging him to take a position on a particular issue, he will reply to you with a short position paper on the general topic of your comment dressed up to look like a personal letter. For instance, you might suggest that he stop supporting tax reductions for the wealthy because Social Security and Medicare will be bankrupt by the time you need them or you might ask him to put a lid on the homophobic rants.

So a couple weeks ago, I sent Santorum a comment urging him to support an investigation into the deceptive arguments made by President Bush and his cronies to justify our military takeover of Iraq. Incredibly, Santorum responded with a letter filled with many of the same debunked claims made by the Bush administration. The letter makes no mention of the controversy or even that any of the assertions have been questioned. It’s as if news of the controversy had never reached the fantasy world where Santorum evidently lives.

For instance, Santorum writes categorically that Iraq “aided and harbored international terrorists groups.” He also repeats the Bush accusation that “Iraq was a safe-haven for terrorists affiliated with al Qeada,” even though the CIA, congressional committees, and the UN have all pointed out that no credible evidence exists to support the claim.

With unwavering assurance, Santorum writes, “Iraq chose not to embrace the opportunity offered by Resolution 1441 and, as the evidence revealed, continued to hide its weapons of mass destruction.” On the contrary, Iraq did accept the terms of 1441. The UN inspectors did not find WMD or evidence of banned weapons programs, yet Santorum states the exact opposite. Santorum never points out that we haven’t been able to find any WMD in Iraq despite having thousands of inspectors combing through every square inch of desert with tea strainers for months.

Santorum also adds that the US “had to address the gathering threat that Saddam Hussein’s regime posed to the world” even though Iraq’s neighbors—Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, and Jordan—opposed the war and evidently did not feel threatened.

Our other responsibility, according to our esteemed senator, was to “defend the national security of the U.S. against the continuing threat posed by Iraq.” After Iraq’s pitiful military defense, who but Santorum would make the absurd claim that they were a military threat to anyone, especially to a country as powerful as the U.S. that’s located halfway around the globe?

Santorum even trots out the “mobile biological weapons laboratories” sham. The trucks in question were, as several experts have reported, for transporting weather balloons. The Bush administration has stopped spouting that embarrassing fiction, but evidently there’s no accusation against Saddam Hussein that is too ridiculous or too unbelievable for our proud senator.

Santorum also uses his Fellini-esque letter to blame France, Russia, and Germany for going “to elaborate lengths to oppose military operations against Iraq.” What France, Russia, and Germany did was refuse to buckle under intense pressure from the Bush mob to go along with its deceit, and I admire them for that.

Santorum dishes more Bush administration crap when he mentions our “40 coalition partners.” Only a half-dozen countries provided soldiers or aid to the invasion, with the British being the only country providing substantive support. Most other countries in this grand “coalition of the willing” provided only flyover rights or simply “moral” support, but many of those granting flyover privileges are located nowhere near the flight paths. Some, like Palau, Costa Rica, Iceland, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and the Solomon Islands, have no military. Even Afghanistan was included. In fact, several countries requested to be removed from the coalition once they realized that they had been included without their approval.

Santorum tells us that Iraq’s violations were so egregious that we “were left with no other option other than the use of military force.” To imply that Bush attacked Iraq reluctantly is a joke that has little relation to reality. The Bush administration lied so often and so blatantly to justify the war because they had decided to attack Iraq as early as the days immediately following 9-11. That’s why Bush ignored favorable reports from the UN weapons inspectors last winter. He didn’t want the reports to delay the attacks. He wanted inspections to justify the attacks. When the inspectors would not do so, despite intense pressure from the administration, Bush went ahead with the invasion without UN support. So the whole UN inspection program was a sham. I’m sure I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know

The final paragraph in this embarrassing piece of taxpayer-funded propaganda from Santorum contains this little ditty: “By all accounts, the Iraqi people appear to be overjoyed at their new freedom.” Personally, I don’t consider daily attacks on and killings of US soldiers signs of an “overjoyed” population, but maybe that’s just me.

The only bit of Bush libel that Santorum doesn’t repeat is the claim that Iraq purchased uranium from Niger. The Bush administration has admitted that that particular accusation “did not rise to the level of a presidential address.” Since Santorum repeats virtually every other Bush accusation that “did not rise to the level of a presidential address,” I’m surprised that he was able to restrain himself on that one.

I wondered where Santorum got the nerve to repeat Bush’s lies, so I called Santorum’s DC office and was transferred to legislative aide Elizabeth Chapman. Like any good Ari Fliescher disciple, she steadfastly refused to admit anything.

“I definitely understand your concerns with that, and I’m sorry the senator’s letter did not address your concerns,” she said.

“Did not address my concerns? What do you mean?”

“Basically, what I do apologize for is that you got the wrong letter for your comment,” she said.

I suppose that means that Santorum’s staff is supposed to send out the letters with Bush’s Iraq lies only to those letter writers who supported the invasion. Maybe those letter writers enjoy hearing Bush’s lies over and over again.

I asked her about each questionable statement in the letter, and when I pressed her about how the “40 coalition partners” claim, she cracked. “The senator would not say there were 40 coalition partners if there were not 40 coalition partners,” she blurted out. I thought she was about to weep. At that point, I knew there was no point in continuing the conversation.

What is so stunning about Santorum’s letter is the monstrous cynicism it takes to continue spreading nonsense to your constituents as if they aren’t smart enough to know that much of Bush’s argument has been thoroughly debunked. With guys like Santorum and Bush, facts are no longer facts, evidence of lying is ignored, and lies become facts if you just repeat them often enough.


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[More articles by Mike Walsh in ExpressoTilt]

© Mike Malsh