20 Questions for President Bush About Iraq

As part of his latest PR push on Iraq, President Bush has been giving another round of speeches and -- wonder of wonders -- fielding questions from audience members and reporters alike. He even took a question from Helen Thomas for the first time in over three years -- a decision he later said he "semi-regretted."

Well, as long as he's in a question-answering state of mind (or is it a poll-driven state of desperation?), I thought I'd offer up a few questions of my own about Iraq for the president.

1.) Last week, you insisted: "I didn't want war. To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong... it's simply not true." Yet source after source after source suggests otherwise, including your former Treasury Secretary, Paul O'Neil, who has said that invading Iraq was a goal set out at your first National Security Council meeting, just ten days after your inauguration: "It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The president saying 'Go find me a way to do this.'" Mr. President, is Paul O'Neil lying?

2.) Despite the fact that dozens of Iraqis a day are dying in sectarian violence, you continue to insist that Iraq is not in a civil war. How many dead Iraqis per day would it take before you'd be willing to concede that civil war has broken out?

3.) Speaking of civil war, your Iraq-is-not-a-civil-war assessment was directly contradicted by former prime minister Ayad Allawi, a man whose credibility you considered unimpeachable in 2004, saying: "He's a brave, brave man... You can't change the dynamics on the ground if you've criticized the brave leader of Iraq." Has your opinion of him changed now that he's no longer saying what you want to hear?

4.) Allawi has said: "We are losing each day, as an average, 50 to 60 people through the country, if not more. If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is." Do you think this is something you might discuss with God next time you speak?

5.) You have steadfastly supported Secretary Rumsfeld, recently claiming: "He"s done a fine job." Just how bad would things have to get before you'd be willing to downgrade that to "a so-so job"? What, in your eyes, would you consider "a really crummy job"?

6.) You have indicated that you now believe that there will be American troops in Iraq until at least 2009, saying the decision about withdrawing all U.S. forces will be made by "future presidents and future governments of Iraq." Given that, do you now feel that your May 2003 Mission Accomplished moment, during which you claimed "major combat operations in Iraq have ended," was a tad premature?

7.) Was the flight suit you wore intentionally one size too small?

8.) Yes or no, are we building permanent military bases in Iraq? If yes, how many?

9.) Total U.S. expenditures on the Iraq war have now been pegged at $320 billion. Assuming the war had never happened, what would we have done with that money?

10.) No one died as a result of Watergate, but thousands have died to rid the world of an imminent threat that wasn't. Will history declare your administration's actions in the lead-up to the war in Iraq a greater scandal than Watergate?

11.) You and several members of your administration have repeatedly said members of Congress saw "the same intelligence" as you did before the invasion. But in the Sept. 21, 2001 PDB, you were told that there was no evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the September 11th attacks. And yet you never gave this information to Congress. Do you still believe they saw "the same intelligence" you did?

12.) In your opinion (as opposed to Halliburton's), has there been war profiteering in the Iraq war? Do you know how many billions have gone unaccounted for? Are you even curious?

13.) Do you agree with Harry Truman that war profiteering is treason?

14.) You have said America has no choice but to remain in Iraq to prevent Al Qaeda from using the country as a terrorist base. Would you say Al Qaeda's presence in Iraq has increased or decreased since we invaded?

15.) You claimed, in September 2002, that "you can't distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror." Did you really mean this?

16.) Can you not differentiate between a group of evil ultraradical Islamic fundamentalists who carried out the September 11 attacks and an evil secular nationalist who, despite the frantic efforts of your administration, has in no way been directly linked to 9/11?

17.) Given that you claim intelligence about Iraq was not manipulated, was intelligence that suggested Iraq didn't have WMD as welcome as intelligence that suggested it did? Could an intelligence official who brought you the former expect to advance as quickly as one who brought you the latter?

18.) You've said it is "preposterous" to claim that the diversion of troops and equipment to Iraq had anything to do with the government's delayed response to Hurricane Katrina, but a secret Pentagon report and the head of the National Guard say otherwise. Were people suffering and dying in Louisiana and Mississippi because so many of our National Guard members and so many billions of tax-payer dollars were diverted to Iraq?

19.) Given that you've made the Iraq war a top priority of your administration, have you ever discussed military service with your daughters? How would you feel if they enlisted?

20.) More than 2,300 American soldiers have been killed and over 17,000 wounded since the Iraq war began. Care to predict what these numbers will be at the end of the "long, hard slog"?