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11 Years Later, We Remain Skeptical Of War Rationales

It might seem that we're too unwilling to give the Powers That Be the benefit of the doubt. But anyone who paid attention during the run-up to the Iraq war can hardly take the establishment's word for anything.

Remember when we "won" the war as Baghdad fell? Remember WMDs? Mushroom clouds? The "rescue" of Pvt. Jessica Lynch? Good times!

On this day in 2003, April 9, U.S. forces took central Baghdad and millions watched on TV as locals toppled a giant statue of Saddam Hussein (it was only later revealedthat U.S. marines played a large role). I remember it well. I was in New Orleans for a newspaper convention as editor of E&P and sat in a ballroom awaiting the arrival of Dick Cheney.

Cheney told us that day that critics of our conduct of the war were merely ''retired military officers embedded in T.V. studios." Media commentators suffered from premature ejaculations. Chris Matthews on MSNBC gushed, “We’re all neo-cons now.” Joe Scarborough, also on MSNBC, declared: “I’m waiting to hear the words ‘I was wrong’ from some of the world’s most elite journalists, politicians and Hollywood types.”

Fred Barnes at Fox News said: "The war was the hard part. The hard part was putting together a coalition, getting 300,000 troops over there and all their equipment and winning. And it gets easier. I mean, setting up a democracy is hard, but it is not as hard as winning a war." Dick Morris at Fox News: "Over the next couple of weeks when we find the chemical weapons this guy was amassing, the fact that this war was attacked by the left and so the right was so vindicated, I think, really means that the left is going to have to hang its head for three or four more years."

Extensive looting soon began in Baghdad and many other large cities, with prizes ranging from household items to deadly weapons and bomb-making equipment. Donald Rumsfeld explained, “Stuff happens….Freedom’s untidy.” Mobs were greeting Americans as something less than liberators. With combat over about two-thirds of the embeds quickly exited. But Judith Miller had arrived to claim that WMDs were in Iraq on the eve of war – but then buried, somewhere.

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