In our April 24th issue, the Flyer reprinted an editorial originally published in the London Independent. Entitled "Where Are They, Mr. Blair?," this piece questioned the existence of the "weapons of mass destruction" which the Bush administration used as its primary justification for launching "pre-emptive" war against Iraq. In the ensuing weeks, no WMDs have been found. Today, Americans are slowly coming to grips with the remarkable realization that Operation Iraqi Freedom may well have been launched under false pretenses.
The Bush administration is doing its best to stall congressional inquiries into its actions, pleading for more time for ever more intensive searching. The irony of that request (given the fact that Hans Blix and the U.N. weapons inspectors were asking for exactly the same thing -- more time -- last March) would be hilarious were it not for the hundreds of American and thousands of Iraqi lives that were lost as a result of the military actions undertaken by this government.
The Bush administration now appears guilty of what at best can be called a colossal misjudgment and at worst a deliberate act of deceit unparalleled in American history. The time has come to find out just which is the case. Last week, House Resolution 260 was introduced in Congress, sponsored by 35 Democratic congressmen. The resolution calls upon President Bush to provide documents to Congress that corroborate his administration's many pre-war statements regarding Iraq's "certain" possession of WMDs.
We applaud these 35 House Democrats for performing their constitutional duty in this regard. And while we are disappointed that none of our Tennessee Democratic congressmen were among their number, we are appalled that the House Democratic leadership under Rep. Nancy Pelosi has chosen not to endorse the measure.
Silence is no longer an option for the Democratic Party's congressional leadership. The party should speak out with one voice: "Where Are They, Mr. Bush?" And all members of Congress, Republican and Democrat alike, should not stop asking that question until the president of the United States has given the American people a coherent and cogent reply.
It has been less than a month since the state of Tennessee, under the new-broom leadership of Governor Bredesen, put an end to several years of agonizing over budget questions by passing an austerity budget based on 9 percent across-the-board reductions in virtually all departments of state government. Public education and TennCare were the only exceptions. Now, even those who feared the worst about budget cuts seem convinced that Bredesen did the right thing.
Shelby County government now faces similar issues. County mayor A C Wharton is arguing for a significant tax increase, in much the manner of former Governor Don Sundquist. Even Sheriff Mark Luttrell, who has effected remarkable economies, contends that his department would be crippled if forced to enact further significant reductions.
Commissioner Bruce Thompson says the county can get by without a tax increase, even though severe cuts -- estimated by some to be as high as 16 percent -- would be the likely result. Scare tactics, says Thompson about predictions that the service level of county government will fall. He cites the precedent in state government.
Thompson's argument deserves a proper hearing, and we eagerly await the response from the Wharton administration to his request for a budget based on the current level of revenues. We trust that such a response will be reasoned and not -- as the commissioner fears -- sensationalized.