Bullying and Threats Can't Smokescreen the Truth

Two days ago, President Bush continued his strategy of smokescreening the truth by criticizing what he called "irresponsible debate" over the war in Iraq. He would love to have us forget how we got into that quagmire in the first place and now he pleads with us to stay the course of his grave mistake.

Mr. Bush's comments apparently were targeted at Democrats like myself who are campaigning for Congress. As an "honest critic," I'm happy to respectfully respond.

Let me go back to May 2002 when I was an FBI agent and Minneapolis Legal Counsel for the FBI. I wrote a 13-page memo, addressed to Director Mueller and copied to two senators working on the Joint Intelligence Committee Inquiry, exposing some of the issues that had kept the FBI from preventing 9-11. I had discovered that after something as bad as 9-11 happened, there is a tendency for people to want to gloss over their mistakes and sweep them under the rug. Unraveling the truth of what has occurred in such a situation is painful, to say the least, and many would rather say, "Let's just go forward from here." Many (especially in the FBI hierarchy) thought of me as a traitor for even admitting that mistakes had been made, but others in our country appreciated my honesty.

So when I testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2002, my statement went to great lengths to identify the reasons why it's necessary to insist on the utmost integrity, complete frankness and honesty, even after a horrible event has already occurred. Perhaps the most compelling of all the reasons I gave for the need for such brutal honesty in fully and truthfully unraveling mistakes was so we can learn from the mistakes and fix them so that we do better in the future. The problem with not looking back, with the less painful "just go from here" approach, is that it rarely, if ever, will lead to the most appropriate solution or remedy that actually best addresses the current state of affairs.

Talk about mistakes, I voted for Mr. Bush in 2000. Why, you ask? Because I had been working in government for years and believed Mr. Bush when he called for clean, honest, open government; believed him when he promised to avoid creating huge deficits and claimed he would be cooperative in world affairs -- and then Mr. Bush turned right around and reversed his position in almost every area. I learned from my mistake so well that now I'm running for Congress to try to help repair the damage Mr. Bush has done to this country and the world.

Unfortunately, Mr. Bush has yet to come clean and level with the American people about his own mistakes, such as his decision to order U.S. military troops to invade and occupy Iraq. Minnesota's Second District Congressman John Kline was apparently privy to the Bush Administration's inside information and "rolled out" his own campaign for war on Iraq several months ahead of even Bush and Cheney. Mr. Kline, like Bush and Cheney, has never admitted his mistakes either. All three insist their initial reasons for invasion really don't matter now, that we're in Iraq and we're stuck. They warn those who disagree with Mr. Bush and who debate in search of the truth and a better way forward -- people like myself -- that we are "aiding the enemy."

Wrong. We are aiding and assisting America so that we don't compound the problem and so the same mistakes are not repeated in the future. I think the people of Minnesota and of our country know this and want me and other congressional candidates to fight for the right to debate and speak the truth. I will continue to do so even if Mr. Bush and his surrogate Mr. Kline call me names. I went through tough FBI training and can take it. Having been part and parcel of the serious domino chain of errors that has transpired up to and since 9-11, I see it as a duty to continue to insist on the utmost integrity including the unraveling of the serious errors made by the Bush Administration.

"Irresponsible"? The irresponsible Republicans have run the economy into a deficit ditch, abandoned millions of our jobs to other countries, wallowed in a culture of corruption financed by the likes of Jack Abramoff, eavesdropped on American citizens without warrants and led us into a quagmire of death in Iraq. The most responsible thing Democrats like me can do is take back the House and Senate in 2006 by speaking the truth all the way.