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THE ARMCHAIR STRATEGIST | DAN PAYNE

'Steadfast' Bush's amazing flip-flops

BUSH-CHENEY team likes to say president is "steadfast." And John Kerry is "flip-flopper." But Senator Kerry is bolted to floor compared to Bush. President Bush is no more steadfast than Tony Soprano is faithful.

Never burdened by reality, Bush says departing CIA chief George Tenet did "superb job." That assumes Tenet's job was to fail miserably to anticipate 9/11 and to goad Bush into going to war under false pretenses. Bush doublespeak is matched only by his amazing flip-flops, which are underreported. Armchair Strategist aims to fix this, with help from Center for American Progress, liberal (There, I said it!) think tank.

* Bush can't get enough of Chalabi. Chalabi cons Bush's neocons into toppling Saddam; sits behind Laura Bush at State of Union speech; always looks marvelous in custom-made $1,000 suits. US paid him $335,000 a month for "intelligence."

US troops raid Chalabi's house. US soldiers raided Chalabi's home and seized documents and computers. (Hope they didn't wrinkle his suits.) While on US payroll, told Iran that US had cracked code for Iran's secret communications. Time magazine says, "The US's abandonment of Chalabi may prove to be the most head-snapping reversal of all."

* Bush called Osama number one priority. "There's an old poster out West that says, `Wanted: Dead or Alive.' . . . The most important thing is to find Osama bin Laden. It's our Number One priority. We will not rest until we have found him." (Sept. 13 and 16, 2001.)

Now Bush doesn't care about him. "I don't know where he is. I have no idea and I really don't care. It's not that important." (March 13, 2002.)

* Cheney: We will be greeted as liberators. On "Face the Nation" Cheney predicts war in Iraq will "go relatively quickly." On "Meet the Press," says "things have gotten so bad inside Iraq, from the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators." (March 16, 2003.)

Bush: That's Cheney's story, and I'm sticking with it.

* On Feb. 7, 2004, Tim Russert asks: "It's now nearly a year, and we are in a very difficult situation. Did we miscalculate how we would be treated and received in Iraq?"

Bush: "Well, I think we are welcomed in Iraq." (Pentagon reports 820 US troops killed in Iraq and 4,682 injured, June 3, 2004.)

* Bush opposes Department of Homeland Security. Former press secretary Ari Fleischer says Bush told Congress, "There does not need to be a Cabinet-level Office of Homeland Security." (White House press briefing, Oct. 24, 2001.)

Bush supports Department of Homeland Security. "So tonight, I ask the Congress to join me in creating a single, permanent department with an overriding and urgent mission: securing the homeland of America." (June 6, 2002.)   Continued...

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