Brian Birdnow

Once upon time, during the bad old days of the George W. Bush presidency, media sophisticates took the administration to task for the supposedly “shifting rationales” that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld & Co. employed to justify the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. The media narrative proceeded along the assumption that the Bush Administration offered many variable explanations for the Iraq invasion and changed the story every time a supposed “reason” for the invasion came up empty. The media charged that the Bush people said the invasion was undertaken to break a terrorist state in the Near East, then argued that the war was undertaken to bring 9/11 co-conspirators to justice, later claimed that the invasion was launched to seize Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, and finally claimed that the war was waged for the purpose of bringing democracy to the long-suffering Iraqi people.

The TV and mainstream print media roundly ridiculed Bush and his people for these supposed untruths, little caring that the WMD were clearly off loaded to Syria in the days before the invasion. It was also more than passing strange that the Administration made no mention (and the media certainly clammed up) of the fact that Saddam Hussein headed an outlaw regime, and attempted to murder a former U.S. President in 1993. The Bush Administration may have been overly optimistic in assessing the climate in Iraq in 2003, and they may have allowed a certain level of mission creep to take hold later that year. In any event, the media decided that the Bush Administration had continually shifted the rationale for the Iraq invasion, and they made a great deal of hay with this charge.

If one fast forwards ten years to 2013, we see some startling similarities between the “shifting rationales” of the Bush Administration’s justifications of Operation Iraqi freedom, and the same methodology employed by the Obama Administration in its efforts to stonewall and thwart the investigation of the Benghazi debacle last September. In this instance, President Obama, the post-partisan, non-ideological professor-in-chief came into office vowing to rein in the overreaches of power by the Bush Administration, but in the Benghazi disaster he has taken many positions, blamed many sources, and shifted many rationales in a concerted effort to cover up the facts of this story.

Brian Birdnow

Brian E. Birdnow is a historian and teaches at a university in the St. Louis area.