Words show Iraq fraying ex-presidents' 'code of silence'

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The war in Iraq has fractured even the fraternity of presidents.
After they exit the Oval Office, presidents generally limit criticism of their successors, at least in public. When President Bush and predecessors Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton gathered Tuesday at the National Cathedral for President Gerald Ford's funeral, it was a show of solidarity and affection for one of the few who knew firsthand how difficult the job can be.

The three former presidents smiled and shook hands as they waited for the memorial to begin, their first time together since a similar farewell for President Reagan 2½ years ago.

The tradition of what historian Robert Dallek calls "a code of silence" among presidents has been strained by the escalating violence in Iraq, however. The war has divided the international community, the American public, members of Congress.

Ford joined that debate, albeit after his death.

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