By MARC McDONALD
George W. Bush has long presided over the most secrecy-obsessed White House in American history. He has spent a good chunk of his time in office classifying every document in sight (and even frustrating historians by re-classifying documents that were in the public domain for decades).
So it came as a surprise when Bush decided to release formerly classified documents that purport to show that Osama bin Laden ordered a top lieutenant in early 2005 to form a terrorist unit to hit targets outside Iraq.
Clearly, Bush is making another desperate bid to try to rally a weary nation that is sick and tired of his disastrous Iraq adventure.
The only problem is that these newly declassified documents weaken, not strengthen Bush's case for war.
The declassified documents show that Iraq has been transformed into a terrorist staging ground since the 2003 invasion by the U.S. That's the same argument that critics of Bush's war have been making since Day One.
Bush may be trying to rally the nation, but in this case, he's only going to rally the dwindling wingnuts who comprise the 28 percent of the nation that still supports him. After all, these are the folks who have been convinced all along that, before the 2003 invasion, Iraq was a terrorist state with ties to 9/11.
These Kool-Aid-drinking folks are the same ones who believe Saddam did have WMDs after all, and whisked them to Syria, just before the invasion. They live off in their own little hermitically sealed world, fed a steady diet of Rush, Drudge and Fox.
But if Bush is trying to convince the rest of us that his disastrous decision to invade Iraq is somehow bolstered by this newly released intelligence, he's even more deluded that we thought previously.
Before the invasion, Bush said that his goal was to transform Iraq into a shining beacon of democracy in the Middle East. Instead, all Bush's war has done is create another Afghanistan-like terrorist staging base from which extremists will plot further 9/11 attacks.
I don't know if the latest intelligence documents released by Bush are valid or not. Ever since its colossal blunder over Iraq's non-existent WMDs, Americans have increasingly doubted the efficiency of our nation's intelligence capabilities.
But if these intelligence documents are true, all they do is demonstrate that the Iraq War has been an even bigger disaster than we previously thought.