CNN Is ‘Dead Wrong’

I am watching in disbelief as “CNN Presents” narrates a misleading account of how the U.S. entered into the Iraq War. Basically, they are alleging that the President built a case for war based “substantially” on faulty intelligence.

President Bush’s case for pre-emptive war against Iraq was based substantially on evidence that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction. But a presidential commission described the pre-war intelligence as “dead wrong.” CNN Presents pieces together the chain of events that led to the faulty intelligence (source).

Certainly there is no coincidence that this CNN exposé comes out just a few days after the indictment of Scooter Libby. Apparently, CNN likes to coordinate its reporting with the talking points of the opponents of the President’s war policy.

This particular report is troubling not merely because a news magazine has taken a policy position on the Iraq War, but because its opposition is based on a selective and misleading account of events that led up to the war.

Is it true that U. S. intelligence agencies (and every other intelligence on planet earth!) mistakenly held that Saddam Hussein retained stockpiles of WMD? Yes. Is it true that flawed U.S. intelligence estimates were the only justification stated for the war? No.

As a matter of fact, the war came at the end of 12 long years of failed diplomacy and U.N. sanctions. The terms of Saddam’s surrender at the end of the first Gulf War included the requirement that Iraq verify the destruction of all its stockpiles of WMD. Saddam had WMD, had used WMD on his own people, and was being required to demonstrate to the world that he had destroyed all of the WMD that the world knew he had stockpiled.

Of course, Saddam did not comply with these terms and defied a string of U.N. Security Council resolutions throughout the 1990’s. The resolutions culminated in Security Council resolution 486 in 2002 which once again required Saddam to verify the destruction of WMD stockpiles that he still had not accounted for. The resolution said that Iraq would face “serious consequences” if they did not verify the destruction of their unaccounted WMD stockpiles. The members of the U.N. security council (including Syria!) voted unanimously for the resolution. Saddam did not comply with this last resolution. Thus, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was in violation of U.N. resolutions with or without U.S. intelligence estimates of their WMD programs.

The Bush Administration’s WMD argument for the war had two planks. First, the administration argued that Iraq had failed to verify the destruction of its pre-1990 WMD stockpiles in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. Second, the administration argued that it had intelligence that indicated that Iraq was seeking to reconstitute its WMD programs, including is nuclear weapon program. The first plank was a slam dunk. Everyone agreed and still agrees today that Saddam never accounted for all his old WMD stockpiles. In many policy-makers’ opinions, this plank by itself was a sufficient casus belli. The second plank is where the intelligence failures come in—the extent of which we are still not altogether sure about.

This half of the story, CNN has conveniently overlooked. Do not expect any of the mainstream media to give an accurate accounting of what actually happened in the run-up to the war. They have all decided to indulge in a bit of conspiracy-mongering. At the core of all the conspiracy theories is this: Bush wanted to go to war so bad he twisted intelligence in order to make it happen. Any part of the actual story that does not fit that conspiracy-narrative gets really short shrift.


Nice Save! Bush Nominates “Scalito”

President Bush nominates Samuel A. Alito to fill Sandra Day O’Connor’s seat on the Supreme Court. Judge Alito has been nicknamed “Scalito” because of the similarity between himself and Antonin Scalia.

Nice Save, Mr. President!

P.S. “Scalito,” not to be confused with the delicious snack “Dorito”!

Waco pastor killed, electrocuted in baptism accident

By Greg Warner

University Baptist Church pastors, (left to right), Kyle Lake, senior pastor; Ben Dudley, community pastor, and David Crowder, music and arts pastor; lead worship. (Photo by Duane A. Laverty/Waco Tribune-Herald)

WACO, Texas (ABP) — Kyle Lake, pastor of the innovative University Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, was killed by electrocution Oct. 30 while performing a baptism during a worship service.

Lake, whose age was not immediately known, had been pastor of the church for more than four years. The congregation, made up mostly of Baylor University students, is best known as the home church of worship leader and songwriter David Crowder.

Lake and a baptismal candidate reportedly were in the baptistry when the accident occurred, reportedly caused by a microphone. Lake was taken to a nearby hospital by paramedics. He was pronounced dead at 11:30 a.m., according to the church’s website. The baptismal candidate reportedly was not seriously injured.

Lake and his wife, Jen, have a daughter and twin sons. Lake is the author of two books, Understanding God’s Will and [Re]Understanding Prayer.

University Baptist was founded in 1995 by Crowder and Chris Seay, an author and now pastor in Houston. The Waco congregation, which attracts about 600 worshipers each week, is known not only for Crowder’s music but for its emphasis on the arts and multimedia worship.

A special service for prayer and counseling of UBC members was held at nearby First Baptist Church in Waco Sunday night, Oct. 30. Funeral details were not available.

Source: Associated Baptist Press

Stephen Hayes Is My Homie

Stephen F. Hayes, Senior Writer for The Weekly Standard

In a previous post, I argued that the attempt to discredit the Iraq war on the basis of the indictment of Scooter Libby is a “non-sequitor.” Stephen Hayes says essentially the same thing in the most recent issue of The Weekly Standard:

In the literal sense, attempts to link the case for war in Iraq to the Fitzgerald investigation are illogical. If a White House official lied to a grand jury in 2004, as Fitzgerald contends, that fact has little bearing on the case made for war in Iraq in 2002 (source).

I might have alleged that Hayes has been reading my blog, but that would be an unnecessary charge. Anyone who has read the indictment can plainly come to this conclusion for themselves.

What’s Wrong with Evangelicalism?

Is there a problem within evangelicalism in American? I had an acute sense of something being very wrong when I watched Tom Brokaw’s special last night on evangelical Christianity in America. “In God They Trust” was an hour long report on who evangelicals are and their involvement in American culture and politics.

Brokaw made a particular church in Colorado the focus of his reporting. New Life Church is a charismatic fellowship in Colorado Springs, and their pastor Ted Haggard is the president of the National Association of Evangelicals. One of Brokaw’s exchanges with Haggard in particular typifies what is wrong with American Evangelicalim today:

Brokaw: Most of the churches that I know of, and certainly the ones I attended, at some point, you out loud acknowledge that you were a sinner or that you came face-to-face to guilt that you may feel.

Haggard: Right.

Brokaw: I didn’t see any of that here.

Haggard: Well, we do talk about sin. But, see, the issue is Jesus took care of our sin. And Jesus removes guilt from our life. So the emphasis in our church isn’t how to get your sins removed because that’s pretty easy to do. Jesus did that on the cross. The emphasis in our church is how to fulfill the destiny that God’s called you to.

Brokaw: You’re making it easier for them.

Haggard: Making it easier for them just like Jesus did, just like Moses did.

How can it be that a Christian pastor and the President of the National Association of Evangelicals could glide so carelessly over the cross of Jesus Christ? The cross is the central event of human history, the focal point of the entire Bible, and the only basis upon which sinful humans can be reconciled to an offended God. How could a shepherd of God’s people ever consider the removal of guilt through the cross of Christ to be anything other than the central concern of Christianity? This seems to be a far cry from the kind of ministry the apostle Paul had when he said to the Corinthians, “I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).

Could it be that evangelicals have largely abandoned the evangel in favor of something else? Could it be that evangelicals have left their anchor of life in Christ to set sail to find their “Best Life Now”?

John Piper has correctly observed that “God rests lightly on the church in America. He is not felt as a weighty concern” (source). Likewise, David Wells has written in his important book No Place for Truth, “It is this God, majestic and holy in his being, this God whose love knows no bounds because his holiness knows no limits, who has disappeared from the modern evangelical world” (p. 300).

It is a tragic irony that the purported God of evangelical faith is scarcely heard of in many evangelical churches. The Holy and Almighty Maker of heaven and earth who has revealed Himself definitively in Jesus Christ crucified and raised no longer remains as the focus of evangelical worship and piety.

So-called “evangelicalism” will die within a generation if evangelical churches do not recapture the evangel. It will not do simply to affirm the doctrine of inerrancy if the implications of inerrancy aren’t carried out in the life and worship of the church. That means (among other things) that evangelicals must restore the preaching of the word of God back to its central place in church life. This is the only way to keep the God of the Bible in, and to keep the God of our own imaginations out.

No Indictments for Leaking Identity of Undercover Operative

I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff.
Photo Credit: AP

Yes, I. Lewis Libby was charged today with perjury, obstruction of justice, and making false statements (see indictment). No, he was not charged with illegally leaking the identity of an undercover CIA operative.

However, the indictment does not charge Libby with the original alleged offense that the grand jury set out to investigate: illegally revealing the identity of a covert agent in violation of a 1982 federal law (Washington Post).

As I predicted in my previous post, this has not prevented congressional Democrats from smearing the entire Bush administration and the case that it made for the Iraq war (see Harry Reid’s statement). Watch out for the smoke and mirrors. The indictments today provide no basis for indicting the administration or the case that it made for war.

Nevertheless, prepare yourself for a labyrinth of non-sequitors flowing from the Democrats in a cynical attempt to discredit the policies of this administration. Their words will sound like arguments, but they will be nothing more than anti-Bush rhetoric veiled in the misleading language of guilt by association.

Scooter Libby To Be Indicted; Karl Rove off the Hook (for now)

The New York Times is reporting that the Vice-President’s chief of staff, Scooter Libby, is to be indicted tomorrow for making false statements under oath. Karl Rove will not be indicted but will remain under investigation.

Yes, you heard it right. According to the Times’ reporting, there won’t be any indictments for leaking the identity of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame (the original reason for the investigation). But don’t you worry. The opponents of this administration will spin this as if Libby and Rove are being charged with leaking her identity. Mark my words. Tomorrow morning, the hacks will be indicting the whole administration for something that the grand jury did not indict Libby and Rove for.

By this time tomorrow, the failure of the Miers nomination will be very old news. The order of the day will be a healthy portion of cynical slash and burn politics. Just a prediction. I hope I’m wrong.

The New York Times – “Aide to Cheney Appears Likely to Be Indicted; Rove Under Scrutiny”