As Donald Rumsfeld famously said, there are "known knowns", the things we know we know, and "known unknowns", the things we know we don't know. Then there are the "unknown unknowns", the things we dont know that we dont know. Since this appears to be the kind of logic that the current White House staff use to evaluate issues of global importance, perhaps it is time we applied the same logic to evaluate the activities of Mssrs. Bush, Rumsfeld and their neo-conservative colleagues.
Although Bush & Co. presented their case for war as a long series of "known knowns", starting with Saddam's WMDs and links to terrorism, their evidence has since proved unreliable. As such, the "known knowns" now appear to have been, at best, "known unknowns" which were consistently and repeatedly presented as "known knowns".
We know that US and British intelligence agencies included frequent caveats and qualifiers, all of which were ignored. We know that Colin Powell shamefully presented a re-hashed University thesis as his core evidence to the UN. We know that Cheney and Rumsfeld set up an "Office Of Special Plans" to hand-pick the intelligence that the neo-cons used to justify the war.
Let's stop pretending that Bush, Blair and Howard might have been misled by bad intelligence. We know the intelligence was imperfect, but that is surely all the more reason not to use it as justification for a pre-emptive strike. The war-mongers were not misled, their voting publics were misled. Bush, Blair and Howard lied - we all know it. Some people are just able to accept that.
We know that now, nearly a year since the invasion, no WMDs have been found in Iraq. We know that Iraqi scientists and government officials have consistently claimed that Saddam had no WMDs since the early 1990s. We know that David Kay, head of a massive six month WMD search operation, believes there are no WMDs in Iraq and it is not worthwhile searching any longer. We know the UN sanctions and weapon inspections - despite US claims to the contrary - had effectively disabled Saddam's war machine.
(And by the way, even if WMDs ARE found, say just a few weeks before the US elections in November, that still would not prove that Saddam was going to use them. The invasion would still be unjustified and illegal. Let's not forget that.)
We also know there was no alliance between Saddam and Al Quaeda. We know Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. And yet we know that Bush & Co presented Saddam as an "imminent" threat to US security, vaguely yet consistently linking Saddam with terrorism, Al Quaeda and 9/11. We know that a large proportion of US voters still maintain a belief in this false association.
We know that the forceful removal of Saddam was being agressively pushed by Rumsfeld and other neo-conservatives since the late 90's. We know this group had been steadily documenting plans for US Empire and lobbying for a decade to turn their zealous, simplistic ideology into official US policy. Looking at the world today, it seems they may have been 100% successful.
Anti-conservatives can be too cautious and overly polite, but the facts speak for themselves. We know Saddam's violent overthrow was being planned by the Bush Administration since their first weeks in the Oval Office. The media may be too intimidated to report it as a bald fact, but the rest of the world knows that Bush & Co intentionally used 9/11 as a pretext for their pre-concieved goal of invading Iraq. We know that Bush and Blair have refused to include this possibility in any post-war investigations or committee inquiries. Why not, if they have nothing to hide?
The illegal invasion of Iraq is a tragedy for the thousands of US soldiers who have been sent to die for a cause they do not understand, let alone believe in, and for the thousands of innocent Iraqis who died "for a mistake". It is also a tragedy for world peace and US credibility in the international community.
Beyond Iraq, the false pretexts used to justify the invasion now become urgent justification for a serious re-examination of the Bush administration, including a review of G. W. Bush's errant past. The confusion surrounding his time in the National Guard is just one part of the puzzle.
We know that G. W. Bush was a member of the National Guard, though we don't know why he wasn't called up for service in Vietnam. We know that he was honourably discharged, but we don't know for sure whether he actually served even the minimum number of days required by the Guard. We know that his records have disappeared. We don't know why. We know there are people willing to testify that Bush's records were tampered with or destroyed at the time he was campaigning for the Governor of Texas position.
We know that Bush either failed, or failed to take, the National Guard's physical test in July, 1972. We don't know why. We know that he did not fly again for the National Guard after that date. We don't know why. We know that, when this issue was raised during the 2000 elections, Bush supporters produced a torn Alabama National Guard document - where the name "George W. Bush" should have been, only the letter "W" was legible. We don't know why.
We know that the Republicans have started releasing various files "proving" Bush served his time in the Guard. But why were these documents suppressed in the first place? We don't know. We know that one or two people have come forward saying they remember Bush in Alabama, including a fellow Republican campaigner who says she also remembers locals continually "grumbing" about Bush's lack of attendance. Why were they grumbling, if he was there? We don't know.
In summary, when it comes to George W. Bush, there are now enough "known knowns" and "known unknowns" to make you seriously wonder how this man could ever have become President of the United States of America.
The "unknown unknowns", for the time being at least, remain the stuff of conspiracy theorists... Has the "world's greatest democracy" been surreptitiously usurped by corporate interests? Have invisible forces within the CIA been picking and choosing US Presidents since WWII? Is the White House controlled by an invisible group of Fascists with strong links to Yale University's "Skull and Bones" club?
Consider this. Before WWII, President Franklin Roosevelt issued a warning:
"The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in essence, is fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling power... Among us today, a concentration of private power without equal in history is growing."
That "concentration of private power" included George W. Bush's grandfather, Prescott Bush, who was later convicted by the US government under the Trading with the Enemy Act.
In 1980, when Ronald Reagan was campaigning against George Bush Snr for the Republican Party ballot, Reagan's camp ran an advertisement which claimed:
"A coalition of multinational corporate executives, big-city bankers, and hungry power brokers... want to give you George Bush... their purpose is to control the American government."
Was this "coalition" ultimately successful in their goal? We don't know, but it certainly looks that way.
There's a lot, obviously, that we don't know. But there is also a hell of a lot of scary stuff that we already DO know. And it's time we found out the whole truth about George W. Bush, his family and his friends.