On April 28, 2007 Sen. Dick Durbin attempted to cleanse the blood off his senate suit by admitting that as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee he had been told the opposite of what Bush was telling the Congress and the American people. But, Durbin remained silent. And, as Robert Lewis Stevenson wrote "The cruelest lies are often told in silence."
Durbin said he "couldn't believe" how the administration was giving different information to the American people than "the information we had on the Intelligence Committee." He says "I sat here on the floor of the Senate and listened to this heated debate about invading Iraq and thinking the American people are being misled. They are not being told the truth."
What did he do about it? Nothing. He kept the information secret until five years into a bloody and disastrous war. He did not fulfill his larger responsibility to stop an illegal war based on lies, deceptions and false information.
Durbin can't cleanse the blood of his senate suit so easily, but he is not the only one who has some explaining to do. There were sixteen members of the Senate Intelligence Committee who were given the same information as Durbin. They all remained silent. They let the administration lie to the Congress and mislead the American people into a catastrophic war. They let a war begin on false pretenses. A war that has cost hundreds of thousands of Iraqis their lives, destroyed their country and started a civil war. A war that cost thousands of Americans their lives and resulted in fifty thousand causalities of war -- more than two hundred thousand if illnesses like post traumatic stress disorder are counted. And, it has cost the American taxpayer more than $400 billion thus far with projected costs of over $1 trillion.
If ever silence was complicity, this is that time. Sixteen elected officials, sworn to uphold the Constitution -- a Constitution that gives the Congress the sole power to declare war -- knew Bush was lying when he sought the power to go to war and remained silent. They are complicit in Bush's actions because if they had been honest with the American people and their fellow elected officials the war could have been averted.
Among those sixteen members of the Intelligence Committee was Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards and potential Republican candidate Fred Thompson. Can we trust these men to be president?
Edwards has apologized for voting for the war resolution. But now that we know that he was told by the intelligence community that the administration was lying is his apology enough? Doesn't this raise serious questions about his judgment? Voting for a war when he was told the basis of it was false is not the kind of judgment we need in a commander-in-chief.