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TUESDAY, JULY 19, 2005
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EDITORIAL

White House has strange definition of free elections

The Bush administration gave ever-changing explanations why the U.S. military invaded and remains in Iraq.

The reasons for the invasion initially included Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and ties to the 9/11 attacks. More recently, after those initial rationalizations failed, Americans hear that the war in Iraq is all about bringing democracy to the Middle East.

But whose idea of democracy?

National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones acknowledged Sunday that President Bush authorized a covert operation to support Iraqis with close ties to the White House in the fledgling democracy's initial elections in January.

The administration scrapped the covert plans after some in Congress raised objections prior to the Jan. 30 elections, Mr. Jones said.

But an article in the upcoming issue of the New Yorker magazine reports that, despite congressional objections, the White House went ahead with the plan to bolster the campaign of Ayad Allawi, who was installed by the United States as Iraq's interim prime minister in 2004 and who worked closely with the CIA during his years as an Iraqi exile.

Officials within the White House, State Department and Congress disputed several details in the article, including the assertion that former CIA officers carried out the program, which relied on funding not controlled by Congress.

Even if the White House eventually scrapped the plan, the Bush administration was wrong to even consider a covert operation to influence the Iraqi elections.

After all, aren't we there so that Iraq can enjoy free and open democratic elections?

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