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Changing information changes minds

December 16, 2007|By ROBERT GARY

Lord Keynes said "When the facts change, I change my mind what do you do?"

Well, the facts have changed on the Iran bomb-building program. Apparently it ended in 2003. So focused industrial disablement (FID) is neither necessary nor proper at the present time. It would be wretched excess.

My new state of mind is based on the new facts. Having to re-shape my understanding of the situation in Iran causes me some consternation and I feel that I've been fooled. That's not nice. It raises questions and I'll just present a few of them here.

Question 1: Are Bush and Cheney impeachable at this time?

It seems clear that they have cynically and fraudulently manipulated public opinion in the U.S. and worldwide by knowingly making false and misleading statements about Iran's nuclear bomb capabilities and intentions.

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Thus, they have abused the credibility accorded to the office of the president and the office of the vice president. If being a pair of lying scoundrels were a high crime, a significant number of prior administrations would have been successfully impeached.

So lying to the American people, and the rest of the world, is probably not a high crime. It may, however, be a high misdemeanor within the meaning of those words in the U.S. Constitution.

Keep in mind that in the case of Richard Nixon, there actually were crimes involved, not just lies and cover-ups. There was the break-in at the Watergate to the Democratic party headquarters, and there were secret slush funds used to pay for dirty tricks on the campaign trail.

In this case, all we have is lies, false propaganda, misleading representations and manipulation of the public will. I don't think presidents routinely do that, but enough of them have done it so that it's probably not, all by itself, grounds for impeachment.

If it came down to a question of what did they know and when did they know it, Bush and Cheney perhaps could be shown to be liars, but would that have any legal significance? Probably not.

It would be of interest to historians, just as it may be of interest to historians some day to ask whether Bush and Cheney sent Gen. Colin Powell to the U.N. to present an extensively documented case for the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, knowing well at that time what Dr. Kay later said, which was that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Was Gen. Powell fooled and used by Bush and Cheney to go to New York and show pictures of trucks supposedly used as mobile laboratories for germ warfare? Are we looking here at a longstanding pattern of dissembling by two persons in the highest offices?

Possibly, but even if it were so, the high crimes standard might not be met - but again high misdemeanors remain a possibility.

Question 2: Can the country possibly afford another year under the leadership of Bush and Cheney? Put another way, which is more affordable: (a) another year with these guys in charge, or (b) an impeachment trial in the Senate in the middle of a presidential campaign year? That would truly be a formula for chaos, paralysis and showing the U.S. in the worst possible light to the rest of the world.

Our dollar is pretty well ruined now, but it would be positively rublized by such an occurrence (the ruble became almost valueless outside of Russia around the time of Yeltsin's accession to power because of the uncertainty about the prospects for that country).

Question 3: To be fair and balanced, this question must be raised: "What earthly reason could there be for a nuclear technology program in Iran other than a desire to build a bomb?"

Iran has as much use for nuclear power as Saudi Arabia does, which is to say none.

Iran has huge supplies of natural gas, and with modern fuel cell technology, natural gas can be turned into electricity quite easily and on a distributed basis, so you have your fuel cells where you need the power.

Saudi Arabia is not crisscrossed with electrical power transmission lines. Iranians need fuel cell technology, not nuclear technology, if all they want is electrical power.

They have natural gas all over Iran. Just about anywhere you drill, there it is, ready to run through a fuel cell and power up the local city.

So the drive for nuclear technology in Iran is highly suspect, especially in light of their former secret atom bomb building program.

When something is that illogical, one can hope that diplomacy can bring logic to bear. Dr. Ahmedinejad is never going to be a reasonable man, more's the pity, but Iran has always been, and may in future be, a reasonable nation.

Robert Gary is a Hagerstown resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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