Don Williams
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Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist, blogger, fiction writer, sometime TV commentator, and is the founder and editor emeritus of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan, a Golden Presscard Award from Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists, a best Commentary Award from SDC, Best Feature Writing from the Associated Press Tennessee Managing Editors, the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize from the Associated Press, Best Non-Deadline Reporting from the United Press International, Best Novel Excerpt from the Knoxville Writers Guild, a Peacemaker Award from the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, five Writer of the Month Awards from the Scripps Howard Newspaper chain, and many others. In 2011 he was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame. His 2005 book of journalism, Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes is under revision for a second printing, and he is at work on a novel and a book of journalism. His columns appear at and have been featured at many other well-known websites. To run his column, gratis, at your website, post this link to a dedicated spot: Need a speaker, panelist, tv commentator or teacher for your group or to lead a writing workshop, in your town? Email

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O.K., who's responsible for what came out of the president's mouth?
(Copyright by Don Williams, All rights reserved   07/18/2003)

Whew! Thank goodness. Now we know who was responsible for the words that marched out of George W. Bush's mouth. You know, those 16 words from his state of the union address last January--the part about Iraq trying to buy nuclear weapons fuel from Niger--the 16 words that people surrounding Bush admit shouldn't have been in that speech?

Turns out it was CIA Director George J. Tenet who forced those words from Bush's throat. He admitted as much a week ago following an urgent phone call from Condoleezza Rice, who was traveling with Bush in Africa. Tenet said it was his mistake that Bush said what he said. Tenet doesn't know why he didn't read through the speech for Bush, but of one thing he's certain, it was his fault.

No, wait, it was Tony Blair who sent those words galloping across Bush's tongue. After all, British intelligence has confirmed that Iraq tried to buy "yellow cake" nuclear fuel from Niger, and who is Bush to argue with James Bond, as it were? Blair will set everything straight when he addresses Congress.

Stop the presses. Phony documents forged by amateur Italian spies were the real source of the words that lurched up from Bush's larynx, according to several reports.

Or it might have been the Internet that pushed those words past George's ivory whites. Turns out the Internet is where Britain got much of the information Blair and Bush both used to scare skeptical countries into war.

Not so fast, according to more than two dozen ex-spies from around the U.S.. Vice-president Dick Cheney slipped those words through our president's lips and those spies can document that Cheney made frequent trips to CIA headquarters in Virginia to make sure our intelligence community publicly supported the decision to go to war with Iraq--a decision Cheney's pals Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz arrived at long ago. Those ex-spies are so mad they're saying Cheney should be forced to resign. Bunch of liberals.

But it doesn't take a liberal to see the obvious. All thinking people can agree the person responsible for the false statements from George W. Bush's mouth should resign. After all, several thousand people are dead now, including 207 American soldiers--wups, make that 208--who otherwise might be alive.

Rice, who's made a career of cleaning up after Bush-isms, takes a novel approach to the controversy.

"Sixteen little words," she called them on a recent program. Unfortunately, she was talking to media people who know it's not the number of words but rather the power they pack that count, and words about nukes pack a powerful punch. Reporters know that. Words, after all, are our stock in trade. Some quick examples:

"I am not a crook," said Richard Nixon. Five little words.

"What did he know and when did he know it?" asked Sen. Howard Baker, 10 little words that dogged Nixon right out of the White House.

"I did not have sex with that woman," said Bill Clinton. Those eight little words caught up with him when he tried to make his little lie about adultery into a big national lie. Boy, could he have used Bush's spin control team.

Condoleezza Rice knows very well it isn't the number of words that count. By focusing on those 16 words she hopes to keep the spotlight off lots of other words Bush uttered in his drive to war--many of them in the same speech. Allegations of Iraqi connections to al-Qaida have been debunked. Words about aluminum tubes for making nukes were suspect before Bush uttered them, as were Bush's many hints and allegations that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9-11. But this administration has lied cleverly and cavalierly at every turn. The "Blue Skies" initiative will not make the skies blue. The "Patriot Act" has true patriots spinning in their graves. Have you seen the list of those already profiting from the oil, for which we didn't trade blood, natch?

Many thoughtful people once worried Bush was just a front man for shadowy government operatives with special interests. That worry has been revived, because reasonable people agree that somebody who simply mouths other people's words, somebody who won't take responsibility for the words issuing from his own throat, is a puppet. Can we all agree on that?

Oh, did I mention the puppet should resign?