It's important to keep this high up on the list of what David Broder and the media establishment consider to be nothing more than good faith, gentlemanly "policy disputes":
A NATION AT WAR: STRATEGIC SHIFT; PENTAGON EXPECTS LONG-TERM ACCESS TO KEY IRAQ BASES
The United States is planning a long-term military relationship with the emerging government of Iraq, one that would grant the Pentagon access to military bases and project American influence into the heart of the unsettled region, senior Bush administration officials say.
American military officials, in interviews this week, spoke of maintaining perhaps four bases in Iraq that could be used in the future: one at the international airport just outside Baghdad; another at Tallil, near Nasiriya in the south; the third at an isolated airstrip called H-1 in the western desert, along the old oil pipeline that runs to Jordan; and the last at the Bashur air field in the Kurdish north.
The Washington Times' Donald Lambro, April 28, 2003:
The [New York] Times, in a front-page story last week, reported that the U.S. military was setting up "permanent" bases in Iraq intimating, of course, that we will be occupying the country forever. I read the story and it seems as if it was cooly calculated to inflame the Iraqis. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld countered that the report was totally and completely false, angrily condemning this kind of fear-mongering, "Henny Penny" reporting. Henny is a character in the children's tale about Chicken Little, who claimed that "the sky is falling." It wasn't, it isn't and it won't.
We are going to repair the damage done to Iraq, help the Iraqi people start a government, and then get out of there as soon as we can.
Fox News, April 21, 2003, Special Report with Brit Hume:
BAIER: The secretary did seem in a rush to shoot down a Sunday "New York Times" story, though.
RUMSFELD: Well, I would say that that article probably takes the award for world class thumb-sucker of this year.
BAIER: The front-page story cited unnamed Bush administration sources saying the United States was planning a long-term military-to-military relationship with Iraq, one that would allow the Pentagon to operate bases inside the country.
RUMSFELD: The impression left around the world is we plan to occupy the country, we plan to use their bases over a long period of time, and it's flat false.
BAGHDAD - Iraqi lawmakers say the United States is demanding 58 bases as part of a proposed "status of forces" agreement that will allow U.S. troops to remain in the country indefinitely. . . .
The 58 bases would represent an expansion of the U.S. presence here. Currently, the United States operates out of about 30 major bases, not including smaller facilities such as combat outposts, according to a U.S. military map.
What's most striking about that series of events is not the flat-out denials by the Bush administration of facts which were obviously true, all designed to build public support for a war based on patently false pretenses. There are too many of those examples at this point for any single one of them to be striking. What's striking is how those who pointed out that this was the administration's plan were totally demonized in our establishment political discourse -- Americans who said that long-term bases were the real U.S. intention in Iraq were scorned as anti-American, far Leftist hysterics, while Iraqis and other Middle Eastern Muslims who said this were mocked as primitive, Arab Street paranoids.
This is yet another reason to be so thankful to our wise and superb political and media establishment, who -- unlike those hateful Leftists and paranoid Arabs -- knew that our intentions in attacking were (as always) magnanimous and pure and that George Bush was telling the absolute truth when he assured us, repeatedly, that -- all together now -- "We will stay in Iraq as long as we are needed, and not a day longer."
UPDATE: Marty Peretz's assistant, and one of the nation's few remaining stalwart war cheerleaders, Jamie Kirchick (who once announced that Americans who don't join Jamie in his cheerleading lack "grit"), today goes to the Los Angeles Times with an Op-Ed headlined "Bush never lied to us about Iraq," arguing that "administration critics continually demonstrate an inability to distinguish making claims based on flawed intelligence from knowingly propagating falsehoods. . . . the Democrats' lies-led-to-war narrative provides false comfort in a world of significant dangers." The recent report from the Senate Intelligence Committee documenting the fact that the administration did just that is, he says, purely "partisan," even though two of the Committee's seven Republican Senators joined the Report. Kirchick is furious that "the notion that the Bush administration deceived the American people has become the accepted narrative of how we went to war."
Indeed. The very idea that the administration knowingly made false claims in order to induce war support is, as this post demonstrates, purely the rantings of hateful, subversive Leftists and paranoid Arabs. Serious Commentators like Kirchick know that our Leader would never mislead us on such weighty matters.