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The bright side

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It's about time we looked at the bright side.

For starters, the big news is that the Bush Administration's misinformation campaign (i.e. lies) aimed at selling Congress and the American people on an invasion of Iraq is finally getting some scrutiny. The failure to find any evidence of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons has been the catalyst, and there's a tinge of despair for those of us who were pointing out the President's litany of lies before the war. But finally the truth may be coming out.

The best line has been Paul Wolfowitz's admission in Vanity Fair that the purported existence of weapons of mass destruction--a key element in the Congressional authorization to go to war--was merely "the one issue everyone could agree on." As we wrote months ago, the country would have been a lot better off if there had been a discussion of the administration's real goal of military, economic and political empire building.

Now, however, it's becoming clear that the real intelligence on Iraq was much more equivocal than Bush's dire warnings about the threat to the U.S. or anyone else. Instead, the CIA, British intelligence and the U.S. military were pushed by policy makers to make things sound much worse than they really were.

Now, Congress is getting interested and the United Nations wants to know for sure whether there were any WMDs. Now there's a cruel joke: UN weapons inspectors returning to finish the job we pre-empted with the war.

Also from Iraq is the breathtaking news that reports of the destruction of collections at the National Museum in Baghdad were vastly overstated. Turns out there were 170,000 pieces total in the museum, not 170,000 missing. Oops. Instead, only 3,000 are missing, and of those fewer than 100 are considered truly priceless.

Closer to home, there's the Meg Scott Phipps scandal, not a happy affair in itself (though it exceeds our wildest hopes for a scandal involving politicos and the carnival industry). It is uplifting as the sign of a U.S. Attorney in Raleigh getting tough on public corruption, and of The News & Observer at its best in breaking the scandal. Considered with The N&O's good work recently exploring the weakness of domestic abuse prosecutions, problems with the Osprey, the shenanigans of a deputy commissioner of labor, and those ridiculous disability doctors examining patients at public libraries and at RDU, the paper has been on a local investigative roll. That doesn't excuse its failure to look critically at the war before it was too late (see above), but it's good work nonetheless.

Finally, Eric Rudolph is no longer having to eat lizards (even if the FBI acknowledges it really doesn't have much evidence against him). And speaking of Rudolfs, what about David Rudolf, Michael Peterson's media-savvy attorney, complaining about the PR antics of the prosecution? Now there's an irony we can all enjoy.

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With the Fourth of July approaching, we'd like you to send us your suggestions for ways to celebrate the ideals the United States really stands for (but are under attack today)--freedom, equality, participatory democracy, help for those who can't help themselves. It could be lobbying your representatives or marching in the streets or volunteering at a homeless shelter. Email your suggestions to editors@indyweek.com by June 23. We'll run the best ones in the July 2 edition of the Independent.

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