According to government records, in the 1980s the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and an American biological sample company sent to Iraq strains of all the germs Iraq used to make weapons. These shipments were legal and approved by the Commerce Department. When Senator Robert Byrd asked Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld about this at a recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, his reply was, "I have never heard anything like what you've read, I have no knowledge of it whatsoever, and I doubt it." Either he is lying, or he is once again revealing the shocking and unbelievably inadequate state of our military intelligence.

The last time George W. Bush mentioned Osama bin Laden, without being prompted by a reporter's question, was in March. Osama has been replaced by Saddam Hussein as the administration's terrorism target, yet Saddam has no connection to Al-Qaeda. National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice has claimed, "There clearly are contacts between Al-Qaeda and Iraq that can be documented." But she refuses to document them. Secretary Rumsfeld recently rebuffed a reporter's question by saying, "That happens to be a piece of information that either we don't have or we don't want to talk about."

Trouble is, this is a democracy. We, as citizens, have a responsibility to be informed. We, as citizens, will be asked to fight this war. We will have to deal with the inevitable casualties among our military. We will have to deal with the economic fallout. We will have to bear the responsibility for the thousands further Iraqi civilians, including children, who will be killed by our bombs. We need to ask questions, and demand that they be answered.

Britain is our only ally in this war, yet last week 150,000 Britons in London demonstrated against the war. The rest of the world does not consider Saddam an imminent threat. Why do we? Could it be that Iraq has the second-largest known oil reserves in the world, next to Saudi Arabia? At the present time, Iraq has deals with French and Russian companies. American and British oil companies are out in the cold. Once the Bush administration installs a puppet regime in Iraq (does anyone expect a true democracy?) they will decide which companies get kicked out, and which ones get to profit from Iraq's oil. They will also decide which companies get the lucrative construction contracts for rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure.

Is this an unfair suspicion? What about the scams Enron perpetrated on California and the rest of America? Manipulating energy supply to raise prices through the roof, and causing power blackouts to ruin the economy of the largest state in our union, all to enrich a few who were already obscenely wealthy. "That happens to be a piece of information that either we don't have or we don't want to talk about."

Melita Tunnicliff

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