On Wednesday’s Countdown show, responding to conservatives who wanted President Obama to give more credit to President Bush for apparent successes in Iraq, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann sarcastically thanked the former President and charged that the war in Iraq was Bush’s "false war." He went on to claim that, "The neocons lied about Iraq to get us in there."
Guest Jeremy Scahill of the left-wing "The Nation" magazine joined in slamming President Bush and "neocons" for the Iraq war, claimed the troop surge did not play a significant role in stabilizing the country, and ended up asserting that Bush administration members who supported the invasion "shouldn't be able to leave their houses without being confronted with the death and destruction that their lies caused."
And, even though various news outlets reported on the presence of al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab Zarqawi in the country years before the 2003 invasion, Scahill claimed that "it was the Bush administration's policy in Iraq that created an al-Qaeda presence in that country."
But, as previously documented by NewsBusters, back in January 2003 and again in March 2004, the NBC Nightly News relayed claims that the Bush administration had "passed up several opportunities to take [Zarqawi] out well before the Iraq war began."
Below is a complete transcript of the segment with Jeremy Scahill from the Wednesday, September 1, Countdown show on MSNBC:
KEITH OLBERMANN: But praising Mr. Bush was not enough for those war supporters, unrealistic even by Bill Kristol’s standards. Former Bush National Security Advisor Steven Hadley told the Wall Street Journal, quote, "I thought I owed it to the former President that somewhere out there, somebody gives him some credit and points out that he is the one actually that started withdrawing U.S. troops."
Okay, I’ll do it. I, Keith Olbermann, do hereby give former U.S. President George Walker Bush some credit for starting to withdraw U.S. troops, except for those who were withdrawn because they were already dead – 4,427 of them – for whose presence in that nation I also credit President Bush. So, thank you, Mr. Bush, for starting to withdraw those troops lucky enough not to die in your false war.
Thank you, Mr. Bush, for starting to withdraw those troops lucky enough to leave before they joined the ranks of the 31,000 whose bodies and lives and futures were shattered by your false war. Thank you for starting to withdraw after bankrupting our nation for your war after it became clear even Iraq would no longer let you stay, and just in time for America to try to accomplish something in Afghanistan, nine years after you let Osama bin Laden get away so you could fight the war for which America, we are told, should now thank you.
Adding his thanks tonight, the national security reporter for the Nation magazine, Jeremy Scahill, also the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. Jeremy, thanks for your time tonight.
JEREMY SCAHILL, THE NATION: Thank you.
OLBEMRANN: All right, go ahead. Share your thanks to President Bush while we’re on this.
SCAHILL: Well, Keith, you know who should be thanking President Bush tonight? The Iranian government. They have a much greater influence in Iraq now than they ever have had. Russian and Chinese oil companies that have gotten a lot of the oil contracts there. Anyone who likes to kill Americans should thank President Bush. And also among those that should thank President Bush are the people in possession of the billions of missing dollars that went missing in George Bush`s Iraq.
The people who don’t have any obligation to thank President Bush are the families of the thousands of U.S. servicemen and women that died in that country, the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians that died, the millions of Iraqis that are displaced as a result of this illegal, immoral war that unfortunately, Keith, and we have to say this, was supported by Hillary Clinton when she was a Senator, and Joe Biden when he was a Senator. So the blame should be shared across the board. But George Bush is number one responsible for this, and deserves no thanks from anyone except people what could be described as enemies of this country and of security in the world.
OLBERMANN: The former coalition spokesman, Dan Senor, said that the tone of the speech last night was fine. As I mentioned, Bill Kristol called the speech commendable, even impressive. Why are the others so insistent on the President praising Bush, without getting too deeply into the psychology of mass hypnosis and other things that might be relevant. Just the basics.
SCAHILL: Right, well, these people have a PhD in lying, and a master’s degree in manipulating intelligence. And it’s really sobering to see this kind of brass historical revisionism happening in real time. The idea that these people want to post some kind of false flag of victory on the corpses of all who have died in Iraq because of their decisions. These people destabilized Iraq. They destabilized the Middle East with their neocon vision of redrawing maps. And they didn’t even succeed in their own stated mission. This is a special kind of pathological sickness that these individuals collectively are plagued with.
OLBERMANN: The neocons lied about Iraq to get us in there, and now, as you point out, they’re lying about how we got out. Since they were not paying attention, we assume deliberately, it’s not that complicated, but can you explain the factors that actually led to the reduction of violence there, the ones that they erroneously credit to the surge?
SCAHILL: Right, pardon me for introducing a little bit of fact onto cable news over these 24 hours. But the reality is there was no success of the surge. The fact is that Bush’s policy in Iraq caused massive destabilization, led to a civil war that killed upwards of a million Iraqis. There were ethnic cleansing campaigns. When the surge troops went in there, Baghdad was a walled off city. The Sunnis had been pushed out and sided with the United States. Muqtada al-Sadr responded to the announced time table for withdrawal that the neocons so opposed by saying he considered it a truce with the Americans and pulled his forces off the streets. So the entire surge myth permeates to this day. And it’s actually one big lie.
OLBERMANN: The Hadley crediting of the Obama Iraq policies goes with it, arguing that Iraq was worth it. But he says that al-Qaeda in Iraq is, quote, "still capable of spectacular terrorist attacks." And he simply asserts that somehow those are not a strategic threat anymore. Iraq’s not a threat because the Republicans don’t have the White House? Is that what it boils down to?
SCAHILL: Well, let’s remember, and I’d like to remind Mr. Hadley, I’m sure he watches your show every night, Keith, that it was the Bush administration’s policy in Iraq that created an al-Qaeda presence in that country. It was their policies that destabilized that country and caused the deaths of so many Americans and so many Iraqi civilians. Steven Hadley probably sees Osama bin Laden at his corner store or hiding in his bathroom somewhere. So these people have zero credibility and have no business in public life anymore. They shouldn’t be able to leave their houses without being confronted with the death and destruction that their lies caused.
OLBERMANN: Jeremy Scahill of the Nation, as always, a pleasure. Thank you, Jeremy.
SCAHILL: Thank you.