The White House has officially admitted their “Mission Accomplished” banner displayed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1st 2003 wasn’t, as we say in the jungle, an “authentic message.” For those who don’t recall, this was the much-publicized event in which president George W. Bush landed a plane (with much assistance) on an aircraft carrier and later declared the “end of major combat operations in Iraq” from a podium underneath a large star and stripe infused banner displaying the words Mission Accomplished. More than 97% of the war’s casualties have occurred since then, so it’s about time the White House took responsibility for their overzealous messaging tactics. White House press secretary Dana Perino made the grudging admission yesterday, saying the banner should have read “Mission accomplished for the sailors who are on this ship on their mission” (wordy and not very catchy—not much of a tagline) and chastised the critics, saying the “media is going to play this up again tomorrow as they do every year.”
Dana, don’t be surprised if the media plays this up every day for the next millennia. The banner has already been immortalized as a symbol of the Bush administration’s lack of foresight, deception, and overall ineptitude. It will be remembered as one of the biggest debacles in US history for sure. It’s alarming that it took this long for the White House to admit they made a huge mistake—claiming victory in the earliest stages of a war. It was misleading to American citizens, the rest of the world, and most of all to the men and women of the armed forces. Could it have been premeditated as part of propaganda scheme to boost armed forces recruitment at the time, since the entire Iraq war was to be executed with an all-volunteer force? Since the armed forces advertises itself as some sort of job-training technical college, rather than an instrument of war, that sort of deceptive messaging is not outside the realm of possibility. There are simply no redeeming scenarios or explanations for why the banner was displayed.