This very interesting article from the Washington Post nicely encapsulates the sentiment around the Bush administration.
Here's the thing. You have people that, in the three-plus years that the US has been in Iraq, didn't want to speak out against the White House... for fear of what, exactly? That the truth might actually come out? That the international community would condemn (moreso) the Americans' business being there in the first place?
Nope. None of those are reasons why people would stay silent. This administration plays fast-and-loose with the truth, as we've all seen countless times. And I think you know about their attitude towards the international community: "Don't mess with Texas" pretty much sums it up nicely.
The only reason why people didn't want to speak out is because they didn't want to get fired, or heavily pressured to resign. I mean, look at just three of the casualties:
Could anyone be more well-respected than this guy? I mean, sure, there's a clip of him at some Republican function taking part in a faux-Village People performance, but who hasn't? Anyway, the guy doesn't exactly toe the Party Line (remember how uncomfortable he looked at the UN with pictures of "mobile biological weapons labs?") and he gets squeezed out like orange juice.
If you haven't read Against All Enemies, get thee to a bookstore. This guy knew his stuff down cold, and worked with both Bush 41 and Clinton before getting tangled up in Bush 43. But eventually he got so fed up with the 43 cartel that he had to bail; they wouldn't listen to a guy who had decades of experience, because he was telling them stuff with which they disagreed.
Gen. Eric Shinseki
It's February 25, 2003, and the US is beating the drums of war. They want to go into Iraq and kick ass. Badly. The 4-star General is appearing in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and is being grilled by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI). Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, are watching the proceedings on C-SPAN back at the Pentagon.
Sen. Levin: "How about a range [of the size of the force needed to stabilize Iraq after Hussein is toppled]?"
Gen. Shinseki: "Something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers are probably, you know, a figure that would be required. We're talking about post-hostilities control over a piece of geography that's fairly significant, with the kinds of ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems. And so it takes a significant ground-force presence to maintain a safe and secure environment, to ensure that people are fed, that water is distributed, all the normal responsibilities that go along with administering a situation like this."*
Rumsfeld: "This guy's totally fucking crazy. No way we're gonna need that much against these camel-jockeys. We're gonna be greeted as liberators. Palm fronds and everything."
Wolfowitz: "Eric's completely bat-shit insane. We'll need a buck-fifty, tops... maybe a buck-eighty if things get really nasty. Remember, we gotta have enough to hit Tehran right between the eyes by Easter."
* Shinseki was totally spot-on with this prediction, as Gen. John Abizaid nicely reminded us a few days ago in front of the same committee, in response to a question asked by Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC): "General Shinseki was right that a greater international force contribution, U.S. force contribution, and Iraqi force contribution should have been available immediately after major combat operations." So there.
Gen. Shinseki retired as scheduled four months later, but in an odd twist, absolutely zero senior civilian Pentagon officials attended his retirement ceremony. Since Shinseki had been disagreeing with Pentagon brass for a few months previous to that, this was obviously an intentional display of disrespect.
...yet Don Rumsfeld gets to hang on for six years before golden-parachuting it out of there after the American people vigorously reject everything he's done, but only because of the midterm elections. He became too much of an albatross for the Republican Party, plain and simple.
The moral of the story is this, and it is no great surprise: the only reason people say what they publicly say in this administration is so they don't get fired. If you speak out, you'll get shitcanned. Ergo, it's more important to stay in a position of power than it is to tell the truth.
Aside: I'm really, really craving Kraft Dinner right now.