How often have we been told that institutions of our society that dominate public debate over foreign policy - Congress, the intelligence bureaucracy, the media - learned lessons from the run-up to the Iraq war, and everything is different now?
Now these claims are put to the test, because we are witnessing a concerted campaign to scare and misinform the American public about Iran. At this writing, six in ten Americans - including half of McCain voters - want U.S. talks with Iran. These folks are the target of the misinformation and scaring campaign.
The Bush Administration and most U.S. mainstream media are ignoring that Iran has a proposal on the table that would allow uranium enrichment in Iran to be under international control - a proposal whose outline has been endorsed by independent, international experts.
Former White House spokesman Scott McClellan - could there be a better source? - has warned that just as the Bush Administration deliberately misrepresented what it knew in order to justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq, we should expect the Bush Administration to misrepresent what it knows to justify an attack on Iran.
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann asked McClellan late last week, "Knowing what you know, if [White House spokeswoman] Dana Perino gets up there and starts making noises that sound very similar to what you heard from the administration ... in 2002, ... you would be suspicious?"
"I would be," McClellan answered. "I think that you would need to take those comments very seriously and be skeptical."
Congress needs to take the Bush administration very seriously and be skeptical of its claims on Iran. A coalition of groups working for real talks between the U.S. and Iran is promoting a call-in and write-in to Congress on June 10. As part of that campaign, these groups are putting an ad in Washington media calling on Congress not to let us be dragged into war, and calling for direct, comprehensive talks with Iran without preconditions.
The text of the ad reads:
Congress Must Not Be Left Asking What Happened in Iran. The Bush administration will say and do anything to justify an attack on Iran.
Not sure? Just ask former press secretary Scott McClellan.
Congress must act to ensure that the President does not take the U.S. into another catastrophic war. It's time for direct, comprehensive talks with Iran without preconditions."
You can see the layout of the ad - and throw a dollar in the hat - here.