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By Bill Gallagher

DETROIT -- It just becomes a matter of faith, blind faith. Facts and reason have no place in discussions about the unending mess in Iraq and the contrived reasons the Busheviks sold to carry out the invasion. The desperate defense of the indefensible reached a new, laughable low when Sen. Rick Santorum declared that, indeed, Saddam Hussein's hidden weapons of horror have been found.

The sorry Santorum made the desperation discovery as Pennsylvania voters are readying to send him to the political oblivion he richly deserves. As a sideshow to the Senate's foolish debate on Iraq war resolutions, Santorum proudly boasted, "The idea that, as my colleagues have repeatedly said in this debate on the other side of the aisle, that there are no weapons of mass destruction is, in fact, false. We have found over 500 weapons of mass destruction and, in fact, have found that there are additional chemical weapons still in the country."

Santorum sold his scoop as "critically important information that the world needs to know." It turns out Ricky Boy was describing old shells from the 1980s found in discarded munitions dumps. Santorum forgot to mention that, at the time, Saddam was our "friend" and Donald Rumsfeld was our special envoy to Baghdad. Rummy sipped Scotch with Saddam and provided him with satellite photos of those troublesome Kurds, which Saddam then used to pinpoint his poison-gas attacks.

Even the Defense Department debunked Santorum's great revelation, one official saying these "are not the WMDs this country and the rest of he world believed Iraq had, and not the WMDs for which this country went to war." It is unsettling that reporters hearing Santorum's claims at his news conference didn't howl in laughter and leave to go have a beer.

Maybe Santorum and his ilk should head to Belleau Wood, France, dig up some mustard gas remnants from World War I and somehow link them to Saddam. If they dig long enough, they're sure to find artillery shells from the Franco-Prussian War. They could use the experience to go after buried weapons King Faisal and his pal Lawrence of Arabia stashed away near Baghdad.

David Kay, the former weapons searcher in Iraq, said Santorum's smoking-gun WMDs would be "less toxic than most things Americans have under their kitchen sink." In the sheer silliness of Santorum's act and the Republicans' script on Iraq, the truth exits stage right.

In the Senate debate last week, the GOP soldiers dutifully shouted their fact-challenged slogans. Many of them echoed the slurs of their chickenhawk general Karl Rove, who recently fabricated history as he tried to brand the Democrats for the November elections. Rove -- who successfully dodged the draft during the Vietnam War -- suggested some leading Democrats who actually served there were cowards and referred to "that party's old pattern of cutting and running."

During the faux debate on Iraq, several Republicans waved the bloody flag of Vietnam, vowing not to permit a repeat of the ignominious scene of the fall of Saigon and Americans scrambling to get out of there. Not a single lawmaker who used that ridiculous argument mentioned that Republican Gerald Ford was president in 1975 when the commies took over there and the exit from Vietnam was a GOP enterprise.

We now know thousands of Americans died in Vietnam after the loathsome Henry Kissinger had already made a secret deal with the Chinese to accept a Communist government in Vietnam. That was in 1972.

From 1969 to 1977, Kissinger served under presidents Nixon and Ford as national security adviser and secretary of state. He held both posts for several years. Last month, the National Archives released a collection of Kissinger's papers from those years, honoring a declassification request from George Washington University.

The papers included memoranda and Kissinger's secret conversations. They show the U.S. government had a clear, private willingness to accept a Communist Vietnam, while publicly opposing such a resolution and while American soldiers were dying to prevent it.

In one conversation, Kissinger told Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, "If we can live with a Communist government in China, we ought to accept it in Indochina."

As many historians long suspected, the papers buttress the "decent interval" theory. Kissinger and his Republican bosses were planning on "cutting and running" in Vietnam, but they wanted it to happen long enough after U.S. troops departed to save face.

We're witnessing the same kind of cynicism and duplicity in the Busheviks' approach in Iraq. They publicly denounce a timetable for troop withdrawal, while privately planning to do just that. The New York Times reports that the top U.S. commander in Iraq has already drafted a plan for a significant reduction of troop strength by the end of 2007. The first sharp cuts will come in September, just in time for the fall election campaign.

The plan hinges on "progress" in Iraq, and Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the U.S. commander, is supposed to work out the troop reduction after consulting with the new Iraqi government and Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.

The bloody reality in Iraq will have nothing to do with the timetable for troop withdrawal, nor will our puppet government there. The only consideration in the decision will be the impact on the Busheviks' desperate maneuvers to maintain full control on Capitol Hill.

"We're winning in Iraq and our troops are coming home" will be the battle cry. Toss in a few fall terror alerts, a taped message from bin Laden, and there you have it. Lies and fear win. Truth and democracy lose.

So far, Bush's war in Iraq has cost American taxpayers $400 billion, or about $100,000 per minute. The human toll of the war of choice is staggering. The Los Angeles Times reports that at least 50,000 Iraqis have died violently since the 2003 invasion.

The Busheviks still lie and link the war in Iraq with the Sept. 11 attacks that killed 3,000 people. As terrible as that day was, it hardly compares to the bloodshed in Iraq.

Gen. Tommy Franks, who led the U.S. invasion, once callously quipped, "We don't do body counts." Last year, after much prodding, Bush finally admitted that "30,000, more or less, have died as a result of the initial incursion and the ongoing violence against Iraqis."

The Los Angeles Times extrapolated a chilling number from statistics of 50,000 dead from the Baghdad morgue and Iraqi Health Ministry: "Proportionately, it is equivalent to 570,000 Americans being killed nationwide in the last three years." Deaths built on lies.

The PBS Frontline documentary "The Dark Side," about Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld's manipulation and suppression of intelligence to make the case for war with Iraq, is an extraordinary and riveting work. Producer Michael Kirk's film provides a chilling account of how Cheney and Rumsfeld set out to emasculate the CIA, ignore Secretary of State Colin Powell and create their own intelligence network to churn out reports that matched their conclusions.

"The Dark Side" presents former CIA director George Tenet as a man who wanted to please the boss, was willing to compromise his own integrity and left the agency in shambles. Cheney, Rumsfeld and Tenet refused to be interviewed, but more than 40 others who participated or saw firsthand the dirty deeds done did interviews.

"The Dark Side" is brilliantly produced and the compression into 90 minutes of three years of deliberate lies and deceptions leaves the viewer numb. No rational person can view the film and not conclude that the public reasons for invading Iraq were concocted.

Come September, when the troop withdrawals are underway and the mainstream media shows the joyful homecomings, some brave high school civics or history teachers will show the class "The Dark Side." The Busheviks will squeal like stuck pigs. Boards of education in red states will ban the film.

Like Col. Jessup, Jack Nicholson's character in the film "A Few Good Men," those who try to keep the lies of Iraq alive will bellow to America's young, "You can't handle the truth."

Bill Gallagher, a Peabody Award winner, is a former Niagara Falls city councilman who now covers Detroit for Fox2 News. His e-mail address is gallaghernewsman@sbcglobal.net.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com June 27 2006