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Libby's Indictment Vindication, Sort Of
Published on Sunday, November 6, 2005 by
Libby's Indictment Vindication, Sort Of

Well, it was hardly a frogmarch, and it was hardly Dick Cheney. But Libby's indictment was close. And for that, and for what we've been through, I feel vindicated.

Sort of.

Here's why, for starters:

In 2002, I had just returned from living in an Arab country and found myself setting placards on my dining room table with my sons and my wife, wondering aloud what would be the best message for an anti-war protest. Bush and company were threatening to remove Saddam Hussein physically, if it came to that, regardless of what the UN thought, regardless of what many people in the US thought, and regardless of what most people in the world thought. Having lived overseas, in a country I imagined similar to Iraq, it was inconceivable that we'd do something so foolhardy and so vicious. For me, it was the little things which made the larger conquest impossible: lack of cultural understanding and respect; familial bonds and customs which united people far and wide; tight living quarters and obvious logistical barriers. Besides the fact that it was illegal and immoral.

At the start, our anti-war efforts were an exercise in free speech with our children. While Bush was his usual jingoistic self, the invasion had not yet begun and it seemed irrational to even consider. There was no way our country would actually invade the birthplace of civilization. After all, we already had Saddam Hussein so completely hogtied and quartered the most he could do was whip out his shotgun and blast the sky. Yet there was Rice telling us in her nervous voice that a mushroom cloud was on the horizon. Rumsfeld, talking about WMD's, sounded like Dr. Seuss: they're here, they're there and they're everywhere. Cheney, sneering into his armpit, promised us he knew where the weapons were.

Nobody really believed Iraq was a threat to the United States to such a degree as to prepare an attack, even if SH had WMD's, even if he purchased yellowcake from Niger, even if he was armed to the teeth. It was indeed laughable to imagine. There had not been one incident or any indication that we were on their nuclear radar scope, and since they'd destroyed 96 percent of their WMD's, and since we entered and exited their country at will while bombing it periodically from on high, the suggestion seemed preposterous, an unfolding nightmare which made absolutely no sense, and which got more and more crazy when the media kept burying good stories and supporting Bush with strange bedfellows like Mr. Friedman, who said we were going to invade Iraq because we "needed to hit someone."

Bush et. al. were bluffing, so we thought, especially after 9/11, and in the final analysis would never decimate a third world country which had already suffered so much turmoil over the past 20 years (much of which had occurred under the auspices of US support). What did we find after all? Some balsa wood drones, some old aluminum tubes the regime lost in the desert sand. Some mustard gas canisters from the 80's and a few romance novels Hussein was apparently writing.

Many people did what I had done. I put a sign in my yard (which was stolen). I raised money to put ads on different radio stations. I went to meetings in basements, I wrote letters, I marched in front of the city council, and I flew to DC for the first time in my life and marched against the imminent war. I wrote some articles and was invited to New Orleans to attend the Jazz Funeral For Democracy, held in Jackson Square long before Bush gave his martial law speech there.

I squirmed while Colin Powell delivered his discredited speech before the UN. I analyzed Bush's speeches, I listened to talk shows, I read books, blogs, webzine articles and newspapers and magazines. I printed the neo-con agenda after absorbing all the information and passed it around to everyone I knew. I held political parties and I went to political parties. I even began a new party. I watched Bush swagger on an aircraft carrier. I watched photos of Abu Ghraib and photos of children with their legs blown off. I heard the constant refrain of us or them, here or there, 9\11 and WMD, I watched the swift boat people attack Kerry, and I watched as Ohio went for Bush after what appeared to be a lot of chicanery in the Republican party.

Richard Clarke apologized and Paul O'Neill wrote about Bush's obsession with finding a way to war no matter what. The Downing Street Memo came and went. Joseph Wilson was smeared. Rice read aloud, "Bin Laden determined to attack inside the United States." Rumsfeld had his day in the limelight: "Freedom's untidy," he said about looting. Antonia Gonzales said the Geneva Convention was "quaint" and "obsolete." Ahmed Chalabi, stovepiping, OSP, Rove and Lindy England became household words.

So, when Mr. Fitzgerald read his indictments against Mr. Cheney's right hand man, it was heartening.

Vindication? Perhaps. But I want more. Lots more.

Steven Backus lives and writes in the Arrowhead Region of Minnesota and can be contacted at


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