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November 11, 2005

Comments

Patrick R. Sullivan

Yeah, the lying used to stop at water's edge.

Anyway, was the speech titled: 'I'm just not wild about Harry...nor Kerry either.'?

Marcel

God bless our veterans.

Not to take anything away from honoring our veterans today, but our Commander-in-Chief should not be accusing critics of being revisionists. It has been his Administration that has continually revised the rationale for the war. WMD's were not the only reason we were given.

But even on the subject of WMD's, the rationale got watered down from "WMD's" all the way - through several stages" - to "WMD-related program activities".

SteveMG

Once again major sections of the press wants to focus on the heat and not the light.

A fair reading of his speech can only conclude, it seems to me, that he is singling out a specific segment of the war critics. Viz., those who state that he and his Administration manipulated intelligence and misled the American people about why the war was necessary.

Clearly one can criticize the decision to go to war and how the war has been conducted. Bush explicitly accepts that argument.

But those accusing him of lying to go to war are now warned. The gloves are off.

Specifically on this latter j'accuse, does any lefty here think that Bush himself ordered the falsification of intelligence or that he knew beforehand that some of his statements re WMD were false? The charge that Cheney and his neocon allies manipulated matters still leaves out the issue of the involvement of Bush in this alleged scandal.

SMG

windansea

Marcel

your hindsight is sooooo 20/20

Gary Maxwell

Re SMG

What he said. Bravo Picasso.

Dwilkers

Well then. It seem Rove really IS back at the office.

"But I am gloomily resigned to having it explained to me."

Heh. You've been in rare form the last few days TM.

Jake

I'm starting to think this is the best blog on the internet. Great Plamescam coverage. Now other good commentary. When are you going to join the Pajamas Media crowd so that that group gets the icing on the cake?

Marcel

President Bush today:
"These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs."

That bi-partisan Senate investigation - in the first of its 2 reports - did not even attempt to investigate whether political pressure was exerted. That was to be the subject of the long-stonewalled Part 2. In Part 1, no attempt was made to identify and interview witnesses with respect to political pressure. The committee asked no questions about that subject, and they didn't happen to hear any complaints. That hardly settles the matter.

President Bush knows that the subject of political pressure was not investigated. Yet he again made a misleading statement. That is how he honors our veterans.

Appalled Moderate

smg:

Does any righty believe that Bsh did not tend to overlook pieces of intelligence that did not fit in with his preconceived notion of what was true? And, was there any effort to make sure that Congress was alerted to pieces of intellignece the president chose to disregard?

These questions are not meant to be rhetorical. I'm curious about the answer.

Marianne

The President saw what Cheney wanted him to see.

SteveMG

Marcel:
God bless our veterans, indeed.

I'm visiting my father's gravesite at the Gulfport National Cemetery this Sunday. He was a Marine, 25 years, service in Korea and Vietnam.

Haven't been out there since the hurricane hit since I wasn't sure about getting around. Reportedly, the cemetery suffered very little damage - mostly downed trees - and is far enough in from the Gulf not to get much water/flood damage.

My father stayed his last three years at the Gulfport Naval Home, a retirement center for navy and marine veterans. But it was heavily damaged by Katrina and all the residents were moved to Washington.

During my visits, I met and talked with a lot of veterans. Interesting that without exception they would never talk about combat. Never. Just didn't do it, at least when I was around. It was like a secret they kept among themselves.

We here today, living in freedom and liberty, are standing on the shoulders of giants.

SMG

SteveMG

Apalled:
Does any righty believe that Bsh did not tend to overlook pieces of intelligence

As you well know, Presidents don't have the time to check out all the intelligence. There's nothing to "overlook." President rely on their staff and advisers to present to them the finished data. They don't have the time - or ability - to examine raw data.

When Kennedy was shown the photographs of the missile sites being constructed in Cuba, he stared at the images - not knowing really what he was seeing - looked at the analyst presenting the material and said, "Are you sure about this?"

Kennedy didn't have the ability to discern those satellite images. He wasn't able to tell a SS-2 from a farm tractor. He had to rely on his people.

Most important, Bush isn't accused of "overlooking" material. He's accused of deliberately lying about the intelligence.

That's a totally unfounded smear and those making it should be ashamed of themselvers. Either present the evidence of Bush himself ordering the corruption of the intelligence or stop the slander.

SMG

Marcel

SMG, Today I was fortunate to be able to accompany my father to a 60-year memorial service. He too has never talked about the War, until recently. Our fathers' service is something to be proud of.

boris

the subject of political pressure was not investigated

There was an investigation about faulty intelligence. Had there been evidence that political pressure was a cause, it certainly would have been witihin the scope of the investigation. That argument is so lame.

Sue

Post 9/11, Bush could not afford to be wrong. Period. If he looked at the evidence, both pro and con, and had to weigh it, both pro and con, how do you think he was doing it with a mindset of post 9/11? Keeping in mind the intelligence missed 9/11, the intelligence missed the fall of the Soviet Uion, and many other misses. The intelligence was not always correct, one way or the other. As president, he had to make a decision. Does that mean he decided wrong? Not in my opinion. We now know, 100% for sure, Saddam will not pursue his weapons programs. For that, I am thankful to the soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, that put it all on the line...

TexasToast

What's so maddening about this "revisionist" meme is that the history hasn't even been written yet. All we have is myth spun like cotton candy based on things like a heavily redacted NIE that was cherry picked to hide any and all prewar dispute about the "intelligence", colored with glimpses that there is much more to tell based on Clarke's "night of 9/11" story, Wilkerson's "cabal", Scowcroft's doubts, Powell's UN regrets, and all Cheney's pre-war BS. How many had the true picture on the pre-war "intelligence"? Not very many.

Richard III “killed” the princes in the tower because the Tudors wrote the history first. GWB, by this speech, is trying to create "common knowledge" by gettin' his "history" written first – therefore all that follows is “revisionist”. What a crock.

Remember, we knew where the WMD's were - "around Tikrit", IIRC. The Democrats, for the most part bless their souls, actually believed our President. It’s not his "decisions", its his deception. I am not saying “Bush Lied!”, but the buck stops with him and his administration didn’t tell us the whole truth – they gave us the spun-sugar cotton candy version, and I think we deserved something with more substance before he took us to war.

God bless our troops – I thank them for their service and devotion to duty. May their service not be in vain.

Jim E.

What is the president referring to in this line?: "When I made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, Congress approved it with strong bipartisan support."

What did Congress "approve" in March 2003? Remember that Bush, prior to March, said he hadn't decided upon war, and had made no decisions about using force to oust Saddam. So he certainly isn't referring to the Oct 2002 resolution. Or is he?

GT

Not going to make much difference. Americans have already concluded that Bush misled them and has made a mess out of Iraq and the only thing that can change that is real progress in Iraq, which for now only diehard Bush apologists can see.

BurkettHead

A. Allegations of Influence
(U) Committee staff did interview five individuals who had come to the Committee's attention as possibly having information that intelligence analysts' assessments had been influenced by policymakers. None of these individuals provided any information to the Committee which showed that policymakers had attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to change their analysis or that any intelligence analysts changed their intelligence judgments as a result of political pressure. There was also no information provided to the Committee which showed that analysts had conformed their assessments to known Administration policies because they believed those assessments would be more widely read or accepted. The following describes information garnered from those interviews.

http://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/library/congress/2004_rpt/iraq-wmd-intell_chapter9-a.htm

U) Conclusion 83. The Committee did not find any evidence that Administration officials attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to change their judgments related to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities.

(U) Conclusion 84. The Committee found no evidence that the Vice President's visits to the Central Intelligence Agency were attempts to pressure analysts, were perceived as intended to pressure analysts by those who participated in the briefings on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs, or did pressure analysts to change their assessments.

http://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/library/congress/2004_rpt/iraq-wmd-intell_chapter9-g.htm

Gary Maxwell

Anybody with any doubts about the Dems motives here need only read the strategy memo from Sen Rockefeller on how they were going to poiticize this stuff. I have read it and dont have an immediate link but I am sure another poster here put it up recently and will do so again. Craven is not too strong a word.

JM Hanes

Appalled -
And, was there any effort to make sure that Congress was alerted to pieces of intellignece the president chose to disregard?"

Unless and until you specify the pieces in question and do more than simply assert that the president disregarded -- vs say, evaluated -- them, your question will remain rhetorical. I would point out, however, that the footnoted reservations which so many claim the Administration somehow hid from view were, in fact, even included in the unclassified version of the pivotal National Intelligence Estimate which was released to the public at large.

Syl

Marcel

All you've got is:

Bush duped us, we're smarter than him.

Let's see if you can get past the giggles of the electorate on that one.

boris

they gave us the spun-sugar cotton candy version, and I think we deserved something with more substance

Whatta crybaby.

Kerry had the exact same intelligence W did and voted for. If you wanted another spineless simpering pretender you should have voted for Gore. That gutless fool couldn't even stop W from stealing the election. Like taking candy from a baby.

The Unbeliever

So say you're Bush/Cheney/a Congressperson/whoever, and in 2002 you called up the CIA WMD guy to your office. He brings his charts and graphs and satellite photos (some from foreign intelligence agencies) and gives you his presentation. Then as he's sitting him across from your desk, you ask him "Bottom line, yes or no: do you guys think Sadaam has WMDs?" And the guy looks you in the eyes and says "Yes, we're 90% sure he does."

If you base subsequent decisions off that answer, have you just "ignored vital intelligence"? If you repeat that Yes answer to others, have you misled them? Are you suddenly culpable of "not telling the whole truth"?

How sure should we be about our intel before we act on it--90%? 95? 99.9999%? Should we completely change an entire segment of our foreign policy if a single analyst writes a dissenting report from the majority of the agency's views?

Bonus question: if you've been charged with the safety of 300 million citizens, and the guy says he's only 50% sure about the weapons stash, aren't you failing in your duty if you don't go out and deal with that potential threat?

Syl

GT

Americans have already concluded that Bush misled them

Now they're hearing the other side. TT claiming Bush is taking first dibs on history is a crock. The Dems wrote it first, now Bush is setting the record straight.

The American people are smart enough to figure out who is saying what and Bush will win this, as he's won every other important battle with the Democrats.

and has made a mess out of Iraq

LOL

That was last year's talking point. Things have changed dramatically in Iraq with 2 completed elections, a 3rd on the way, a constitution, Sunni's joining the process, and al Qaeda on the run. Not to mention all the fine Iraqi police and soldiers doing their part to protect their own country.

We're winning. Even the Democrats can't say we're not.

p.lukasiak

Kerry had the exact same intelligence W did and voted for.

there is, however, a significant difference. Bush had complete control over the intelligence bureaucracy. He had the means to have issues examined more closely, and to demand that the assumptions and conclusions concerning Iraq intelligence be reconsidered at in light of the fact literally every claim made by the US regarding Iraq's weapons programs had either been disproven, or placed in serious doubt, by the UN inspections.

Kerry, on the other hand, was handed an NIE, and told to make up his mind. Despite being on he Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Kerry had been shut out of the full range of intelligence by presidential edict shortly after 9-11, and if he had a question about any claim made in the intelligence he was handed, it could not be answered by the SSCI staff because they too were denied the full range of intelligence info to which they had once had access.

Oh yeah... Kerry voted to authorize Bush to go to war if need be. He trusted Bush, in other words. Bush made the actual decision to go to war -- the trust was betrayed.

SteveMG

TexasToast:
Wait a second there pardner. Each U.S. Senator has his or her own staff of experts on a whole host of issues, including WMD and military matters. These members are privy to the intelligence material, the raw stuff.

Senators Daschle, Clinton, Levin, Bayh (and I believe several more) all said that they themselves went to Langley to view the intelligence and to talk to the analysts and to have their experts review things. This wasn't a question of accepting Bush's word or judgements.

Seriously, you think the above folks aren't going to check out the details themselves? And get their own experts to inform them on the matter?

This scenario of a wily Svengali manipulating the Democrats into war needs re-writing. I mean, being dazzled and seduced by the oratory skills of George Bush?

SMG

boris

We're winning. Even the Democrats can't say we're not.

Heh. About the time Iran has a nuke almost ready, Iraq really will have their own nuke program, with our help or the other regional democracy.

Who want's to bet Iran doesn't reconsider their program.

Syl

AM

Intelligence that runs counter to other intelligence is folded into the process. There's an entire cycle of analysis that occurs inside the intel agencies. Everything is weighted. From individual pieces, to bigger questions such as the state of such-and-such program.

And different divisions often end up with intelligence weighted slightly differently. INR, for example was extemely sceptical of an active nuclear program. WINPAC was not as sceptical. But even INR felt quite confident that chem and bio programs were active.

The higher ups get the weighted intelligence, not the individual pieces. You can't then leak to the NYTimes that 'Look! here's a piece of intel that says there's not nuke program and Bush ignore it!' because that is meaningless without the entire package. (Well you can, and some did, but it's dishonest.)

SteveMG

Bush had complete control over the intelligence bureaucracy.

Yep, that CIA is just putty in Bush's hands. Dissent isn't tolerated and no one in the Agency would ever dream of leaking to the NY Times.

Oy.

SMG

JM Hanes

TM -

With all due respect -- sorry, couldn't resist! -- the updated talking point is NOT "I couldn't see through Bush's lies" at all. Throw off the passive agressive yoke that's so yesterday's PC. The new improved version is, "He threw sand in our eyes!"

[I am soooo stealing that - TM]

Syl

p.luk.

If you put your trust in someone to make a decision, and that someone makes a decision, you cannot then claim you were betrayed. You either trusted him or you didn't. You didn't trust him to only make a decision ONE WAY.

If that's what Kerry claims (and it is) then he's a lying fool (and he is).

boris

If that's what Kerry claims (and it is) then he's a lying fool (and he is

Kerry made his choice using weasel words so he could waffle both sides of whatever result.

cathyf
Bush had complete control over the intelligence bureaucracy.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA *snort* HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA *gasp* HAHAHAHAHAHAHA oh it hurts HAHAHAHAHAHAHA * gasp* HAHAHAHAHAHAHA can't stop HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA please HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
JM Hanes

What cathyf said!

Syl

Boris

About the time Iran has a nuke almost ready, Iraq really will have their own nuke program, with our help or the other regional democracy.

Great point oh Son of Osirak!

TexasToast

Now that was funny.

Syl

ROTF!!!

Cathy just ended the debate!!!

LOL

clarice

Rope a Dope Iraq:The Final Chapter

The President sat back, let his opponents knocke themselves out with preoposterous charges, and now is going in for the final blow--and when he's done we will be reminded anew why the Dems cannot be trusted with serious, grown up matters like national defense.

Glenn Reynolds says he should also charge they're unpatriotic because they are. http://instapundit.com/archives/026792.php

Sue

P. Luk,

Kerry wasn't shut out. He chose not to attend.

p.lukasiak

Was intelligence itself manipulated? Yes. No better example exists than the "aluminum tubes" fiasco. Apparently, there was ONE guy who came up with the idea that the tubes might be useful in centrifuges, and he was able to successfully push that theory despite everyone saying it was nonsense because it was what Bushco wanted to hear. So "these tubes are suitable for rockets, but its not completely theoretically possible for them to be converted into use in a centrifuge" became "the tubes are suitable for centrifuges, and Iraq hasn't come up with any other plausible explanation for them". (Of course, Iraq had explained that they were, in fact, for rockets.)

But what the real issue here is how intelligence was presented to the american people. What was really known was consistently stripped of its true meaning and significance -- yes, it was true that UNSCOM said that there were vast quantities of "unaccounted for" munitions -- but UNSCOM also knew for certain that almost all of these "unaccounted for" munitions had been destroyed -- they were "unaccounted for" because their destruction was undocumented, and thus unquantifiable. And, anything that hadn;t been destroyed had LONG since degraded into uselessness as weapons.

But all Bush ever told the American people is that the UN said there were all of the "unaccounted for" biological and chemical weapons, creating the impression that there were vast stores of chemical and biological weapons in Iraq that could be turned over to Osama bin Laden at any moment.

To describe what Bush did with the UNSCOM report as anything other than "manipulation" is absurd. And it is THAT manipulation that Americans are most concerned about --- the fact that they put their faith in Bush to tell them the truth about the nature of the threat facing the US, and he deliberataely and consciously lied to them about the nature of the threat.

Marianne

The intelligence that is provided to Congress - even the most senior leadership - is a tiny fraction of what is reviewed by White House staff, and an even smaller percentage of what is processed and analyzed by the various intelligence agencies. Congress is told what the White House wants it to know. And some Adminstrations are less forthcoming than others. It is an absolute falsehood to state that Congress knew what the President knew.

The NIE that was the basis of the war authorization resolution was a hastily-prepared sales presentation. In no way did it reflect the diversity of opinions in the various agencies.

Syl

Poor p.luk. just doesn't get it.

SteveMG

Apalled Moderate:
Was there any effort to make sure that Congress was alerted to pieces of intellignece the president chose to disregard?

Well, we know that the various defense and security committees often go into closed session when discussing classified intelligence. At that time (or even in open session), Senators can ask analysts or experts testifying detailed questions about the raw data.

Again, you keep saying "intelligence the president chose to disregard". The president views the finished product after its been reviewed and worked on through the various agencies. All he can do is rely on the best judgements of his staff and of the analysts viewing the intelligence.

I'm puzzled over this view that Bush himself is supposed to look over all the intelligence and all the various internecine arguments on the accuracy of the material.

He can't. No president can. Kennedy didn't, Clinton didn't when he decided to attack the pharmaceutical plant in the Sudan.

If critics wish to accuse Cheney or his staff or elements in various agencies of stovepiping intelligence of ignoring contradictory material, we can debate that.

But these attacks on Bush, it seems to me, have zero substance (based on what I think we know right now).

SMG

Sue

P. Luk,

You are free to post quotes from UNSCOM, pre-Iraq where they say, unequivocally, Saddam had no WMDs. You won't find any. But you are free to try. What they say now doesn't count. 20/20 hindsight and all that stuff. :)

Syl

Marianne

You had better have specifics, generalized whining won't cut it.

I'd suggest you go back and read all the reports that have been generated about this very issue.

See you in a month.

Sue

Congress did not need convincing from Bush. They had already been convinced...Bush was just restating what they had already heard...

p.lukasiak

Kerry wasn't shut out. He chose not to attend.

Sue, prior to 9-11, members of the intelligence committees of both houses of congress, and their staffs, had just about complete access to the full range of intelligence on every issue. Shortly after 9-11, the only people who had access to that "full range of intelligence" were the Senate and House Majority and Minority leaders, and the chairs and ranking members of the intelligence committees of both houses of congress.

Bush's directive virtually eliminated any effective congressional oversight of US intelligence --- and to pretend that isn't significant is just dumb.

Anonymous Liberal

There is such a black & white quality to this debate. The truth, as usual, lies somewhere in the middle. Liberals need to concede that there was a general consensus in the pre-war period that Iraq had WMD. Bush, Cheney and company genuinely thought Iraq had WMD (as did many Democrats and foreign countries), so in that meta-sense, the American people were not lied to.

That said, conservatives need to concede that many pre-war statements by Bush administration officials (the President included) greatly over-stated existing intelligence. For example, it's one thing if I say "most people believe X." It's quite another to say "we know without a doubt X." The Bush administration's statements regarding WMD were almost always of the latter variety. They deserve to be criticized for that.

Second, conservatives need to admit that some specific claims, particulary about Iraq's nuclear program, were not well-supported at all by existing intelligence. Cheney and Rice in particular made a number statements regarding Iraq's nuclear capability (aluminum tubes, etc.) that were widely-disputed by the intelligence community at the time, and they did so without acknowledging dissenting views. Cheney's statements regarding the timeframe for Iraq acquiring nuclear capability (i.e. within six months) were wild conjecture unsupported by anything. These claims in particular need to be investigated. It's worth knowing whether these officials actually believed what they were saying or whether they were consciously cherry-picking, spinning, or making things up in order to "sell" a war to the American people.

It's silly to assert that the Bush administration "lied" about everything related to WMD, or even lied about most things. But it's entirely reasonable to suspect that some specific (and important) claims about WMD were not supported by contemporaneous intelligence and therefore should not have been said. These specific claims need to be investigated.

Dwilkers

"Does any righty believe that Bsh did not tend to overlook pieces of intelligence that did not fit in with his preconceived notion of what was true? And, was there any effort to make sure that Congress was alerted to pieces of intellignece the president chose to disregard?"

I mean really, this is just silly. Think about this.

Does anyone think the president pores over intercepts and satelite photos, chooses which to credit and which to discard? Of course not. He has a 40 bilion dollar per year intelligence apparatus that does this work. We know from reports he questioned Tenet closely enough about it that Tenet eventually threw up his hands and said 'for heaven's sake Mr. President, its a SLAM DUNK!'. I dunno what more anyone wants him to do. Interview every employee at the CIA and get their individual opinions?

The companion argument to this is that he 'didn't inform the country' about the questions the CIA might have had. Assuming he even knew about them, is the thought here that the president was supposed to present the 'why we shouldn't go to war' case to the country, when they had decided the opposite? Surely everyone understands there will be arguments for and against in any such decision. It doesn't pass the laugh test.

Clearly in the wake of 9/11 the administration decided SH was a risk we couldn't afford to allow to continue. He was defying the UN resolutions, he was shooting at our airplanes enforcing same, he was in violation of the Gulf War cease fire.

They reviewed the reports, decided what to do, and led the country to that spot. To some this was "cherry picking" the intelligence. To me, and I think stripped of the Bush hate and viewed objectively, it was simple leadership.

And I don't remember Clinton making the case for why we shouldn't go to war in Kosovo either. They looked at the situation, decided what to do and led the country to that spot. That's what presidents do.

FedUp

cathyf,
I laughed so hard I woke my cat up! Best comment today!

Syl

Anonymous Liberal

What Dwilkers said.

Sue

P. Luk,

You don't trust the minority leaders then? Were only republicans in attendance?

John Kerry was a member of the senate intelligence committee from 1993 to January 2001. He chose not to attend those meetings, where I'm sure Saddam was discussed.

Syl

Yeah, Cathy rocks! LOL

SteveMG

Anonymous Liberal:
Excellent summary.

However, the question on the table that needs addressing is Bush's knowledge himself. Critics have been saying that Bush lied about the intelligence, that he himself knew that what he was stating was not true.

And there is not one piece of evidence to those charges. None.

We can debate Cheney's knowledge since he was more active in viewing raw intelligence. Or we can debate Rice's understanding, et cetera.

But no president - Kennedy or Clinton or Bush - has the time or ability to work through these matters. He just can't. He's got to rely on his advisers and staff.

Bush is being smeared. Flat out, unadulterated smear.

SMG

Syl

And you'll note that the commenter Cathy quoted just continues as if his statement had not been addressed. LOLOL

Marianne

SMG, you are probably correct that Bush was not familiar with the contrary opinions about WMD intelligence. Just as he did not know how serious a problem Katrina was becoming, and did not know that his aides were talking to the Press about Plame. This is not a President who is fully engaged on the issues; he has spent most of the last 5 years in campaign mode. This is not a person who came to the job with a great deal of experience with national issues, let alone international affairs. I like the man, but feel sorry for him lately because he is in so deeply over his head.

Sue

Someone on tv said earlier today that democrats are facing re-election with a base that is clearly opposed to the war. In order to position themselves for re-election, they have to explain to that base why they voted for the war (if they did). What explanation would suffice? They were 'misled' by Bush into believing Saddam had WMDs. Clearly that is what is happening. They were all for the war, before they were against it. :)

p.lukasiak

You are free to post quotes from UNSCOM, pre-Iraq where they say, unequivocally, Saddam had no WMDs. You won't find any. But you are free to try. What they say now doesn't count. 20/20 hindsight and all that stuff. :)

Sue....

notwithstanding the fact that UNSCOM didn't exist in 2003 (it was replaced by UNMOVIC in 1998 or thereabouts)....

Would you be satisfied with statements from UNMOVIC and IAEA made before the war started that flat out said they had uncovered no evidence of WMDs, nor of WMD programs?

Because that is really what is at issue here. The US demanded, and got, unrestricted inspections of Iraq, based on its "intelligence" that concluded that Iraq had all WMDs and active WMD programs. The inspections turned up nothing --- despite checking out every claim made by the US that could be checked out.

(Remember Saddam's palaces? Nothing there. The Mosques? Nothing there. Niger-uranium -- forged documents. Aluminum tubes? intended for use in rockets. )

Now, given the limited number of inspectors that were available when the process began, it would come as no surprise that they hadn't been able to turn over every rock in Iraq to make sure there weren't WMDs under it in two and a half months time. And given the US absolute insistence that these weapons and programs did exist, Blix wasn't going to say otherwise until the inspectors HAD looked under every rock.

But he did say that looking under every rock that the US told them to look under yielded nothing.

But we still went to war.

jukeboxgrad

JM Hanes: "the footnoted reservations which so many claim the Administration somehow hid from view were, in fact, even included in the unclassified version of the pivotal National Intelligence Estimate which was released to the public at large."

I'm not sure what "footnoted reservations" you're thinking of, but we're now indeed well-aware of certain important information "the Administration somehow hid from view."

I'm also not sure what you mean by "the unclassified version of the pivotal National Intelligence Estimate which was released to the public at large," because only a small portion of the "pivotal" NIE has ever been unclassified and "released to the public at large," and even this small portion was not released until well-after the war began.

Most people don't realize there were two NIEs. Bush was looking at the classified NIE, portions of which were unclassified in 7/03 (link). Most of the rest of us were looking at the unclassified NIE (html, pdf), a document called "Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs," which SSCI refers to as "an unclassified White Paper." The NYT described this document as "a separate white paper summarizing the National Intelligence Estimate."

Pre-war, this White Paper was essentially all the public, and most of Congress, had to work with. The classified NIE was restricted to SSCI and perhaps a small number of other congressmen. (If someone has a reliable source indicating exact Congressional distribution of the classified NIE, I'd love to see that.)

Funny thing, this highly inflammatory and distorted White Paper was released a week before Congress voted on the war (and it included virtually nothing along the lines of "reservations"). This was also shortly before mid-term elections; in selling a war, timing is everything (as Scooter himself once memorably mentioned). The often-repeated claim that Congress supported the war based on the same intelligence Bush had is simply a lie.

There are many important differences between the two versions of the NIE. Only one included this text: "the claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are, in INR's assessment, highly dubious." Tenet acknowledged this in his famous speech. In other words, someone cut the word "dubious" out of the NIE before handing it to Congress about a week before they voted on the war.

SSCI found (p. 295) that the White Paper "misrepresented" the judgments of the IC. "Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), said that had Congress known before the vote to go to war what his committee has since discovered about the intelligence on Iraq, 'I doubt if the votes would have been there.' Roberts characterized some of the redacted parts of the Senate report as 'specific details that would make your eyebrows even raise higher.' " (link)

In light of current events, it's interesting to recall that WHIG influenced the production of the White Paper, and rejected early versions of it as being "not strong enough." Pincus laid this out in detail two years ago ("Depiction of Threat Outgrew Supporting Evidence," 8/10/03, link, alternate link).

The public has never really heard a thorough explanation of how and why this happened. This is partially because the SSCI report is heavily redacted, and partially because SSCI never finished its work. We've also still never seen anything remotely resembling a full version of the original classified NIE. We've been shown 14 of the original 93 pages (link).

SteveMG

Marianne:
That's not an entirely unfair point. Clearly, he's much more passive (ahem) as a president than he should be.

However, the point remains that no President, no matter how active or detailed-oriented, can delve into the details of these incredibly complex issues. They've got a thousand other issues to deal with.

No one seriously believes that Clinton himself examined the intelligence on the Sudanese pharmaceutical plant. He relied on Berger and Tenet and his national security team to give him the finished product, if you will.

If the Democrats wish to criticize Bush's staff or advisers, that's fine. But this libel that he himself knew otherwise has no substance. Zero.

SMG

Sue

P. Luk,

So you think that supports your argument? I said UNSCOM instead of UNMOVIC? :) I'll take your word for it, since one UN is as good as another UN and neither UN was worth a shit. They were played by Saddam each time they went into Iraq. And according to Blix, post-Iraq, of course, Saddam didn't have anything since 1991, so even Clinton was wrong when he bombed them. Ooops. :)

p.lukasiak

You don't trust the minority leaders then? Were only republicans in attendance?

Its not a question of trust. Its a question of having the expertise to ask relevant questions --- and the time to go over the information in a way that would allow for the discovery of questionable analyses and conclusions.

p.lukasiak

So you think that supports your argument? I said UNSCOM instead of UNMOVIC? :)

no Cathy, that is why I used the word "Notwithstanding". I am fully willing to accept the "brain fart" explanation for the mistake, rather than "ignorance" :)

Rick Ballard

The Copperheads need to stick to the "We're a bunch of dupes argument". They have come this far with it and it's enough to get them where they deserve to go. It's not as if patiortism means a damn thing to them anyway.

Besides, it's almost unarguable. Who can produce a fact to the contrary? They are dupes.

Syl

p.luk.

It's over.

You lost...again.

Sue

P. Luk,

You are kicking the ball down the road again. You said they weren't privvy to the information now they didn't know how to analyze the information correctly. Nothing will satisfy you will it? Short of Bush standing in front of the American public and saying he lied in order to oust Saddam because he tried to kill his daddy, we needed the oil and Israel was hounding him.

Sue

P. Luk,

Notwithstanding the conversation is with me and not Cathy, I'll excuse your own brain fart and ask again why you choose not to address the fact that UN... any of them... was wrong. :)

chrisae

I don't understand why Democrats keep pushing the "Bush lied/misled" theme, when the evidence for it is just not there. Especially since it makes them look credulous.

Why don't they argue that Bush is incompetent? After 9/11 Bush seems to have not done anything to improve intelligence collection. I am shocked at how completely worthless the CIA is. If you read the Gerecht article, they in essence have no covert agents. No human intelligence. (Apparently it's staffed with worthless bureaucrats like Plame.) Tenet was kept on even after 9/11. Bush as CIC was responsible for fixing intelligence. He made bad judgments about intelligence and conducting the war. (Same lack of judgment as in selection of M. Brown, Meirs.)

Bush is right about this: arguing bad motives for going to war hurts war fighting effort and demoralizes the country. I just don't understand the Dems' strategy, unless they really believe we're not in a "war".

Syl

This tap dancing hurts the Democrats. Sue is right, they have to back away from a war we are winning and pretend they were against it.

A little less than half the Dems are anti-war, and these tap dancers are trying to ruin things for the rest of them.

A minority of a minority myopically obsessed on one issue! Look that way instead, towards Iraq, and ponder the miracle that is happening there. Look at Jordan and the thousands of demonstrators calling for Zarqawi's head! Look at Lebanon, look at Afghanistan, look at the Kurds who are thanking America with a video. Look at Libya, look at how we've co-opted Pakistan! Look at the deep friendship that has evolved with India!

And look at the Aussies who say 'live under our laws or leave'.

The times they are a changing and you're missing everything.

p.lukasiak

You are kicking the ball down the road again. You said they weren't privvy to the information now they didn't know how to analyze the information correctly

sue, please learn to read for context. The question (which i quoted) was whether I trusted the minority leader, who was one of the small group that had full access. I said it wasn't a question of trust, but a question of time and expertise.

jukeboxgrad

One big lie that gets told over and over again is that Congress was looking at the same intel that Bush was looking at. That's nonsense, as I've explained.

Another big lie is that bipartisan commissions found no sign of pressure and manipulation. That's also nonsense.

In SSCI there is some discussion about Richard Kerr, the CIA Ombudsman for Politicization. In the main part of the report, there's language suggesting he found no evidence of politicization. However, buried in the Additional Views section, there's an interesting exchange where he's asked to explain why analysts didn't come forward to the committee to complain they had been pressured. Kerr's explanation (p. 485): "Maybe they are wiser than to come talk to you." This comment by Kerr is a somewhat veiled form of something he said more explicitly elsewhere: "Everybody felt pressure ... A lot of analysts believed that they were being pressured to come to certain conclusions … . I talked to a lot of people who said, ‘There was a lot of repetitive questioning. We were being asked to justify what we were saying again and again.’ There were certainly people who felt they were being pushed beyond the evidence they had."

Silberman-Robb (link) is also often cited as "proof" there was no manipulation of intelligence. First of all, SR had no mandate to inquire into how the White House used (or manipulated) the intelligence once it was delivered to them. Aside from that, buried in SR are indeed various indications of what SR claims did not exist: politicization. It seems that SR consistently ignored these indications, sweeping them aside as it plowed toward its conclusion of no politicization.

Take a look at the section entitled "Politicization," which is buried almost at the very end of the long section on Iraq ("Chapter One Case Study:Iraq"). Some interesting information is buried in the footnotes of the "Politicization" section: "849 CIA, Inspector General, Inspection Report of the DCI Center for Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation, and Arms Control (WINPAC) Directorate of Intelligence (IG 2004-0003-IN) (Nov. 2004) (Employee Opinion Survey) at p. 9. The same survey revealed that 7 percent of WINPAC analysts had 'personally experienced or observed an instance within WINPAC where [sic] an analytic judgment was changed to suit a customer's preference.' Id."

Here's another clue: " ... the analysts who raised concerns about the need for reassessments [regarding Curveball] were not rewarded for having done so but were instead forced to leave WINPAC. 857 One analyst, after presenting his case in late 2003 that Curveball had fabricated his reporting, was 'read the riot act' by his office director, who accused him of 'making waves' and being 'biased.' 858 The analyst told Commission staff that he was subsequently asked to leave WINPAC. Similarly, a WINPAC CW analyst who pressed to publish a reassessment of Iraq's CW program in late 2003 was also, according to the analysts, 'told to leave' WINPAC. 859"

SR seems to show no interest in investigating these various clues. Nevertheless, it makes sweeping statements such as this: "the commission found no indication that the Intelligence Community distorted the evidence." SR fails to explain why the clues I've cited (and a variety of other clues) are not considered an "indication" that something might have been "distorted."

p.lukasiak

Notwithstanding the conversation is with me and not Cathy,...

DOH! :)

...I'll excuse your own brain fart and ask again why you choose not to address the fact that UN... any of them... was wrong. :)

UNMOVIC and the IAEA weren't wrong. Before the war began, they said they had found no evidence of WMDs. The IAEA was unequivocal on the question of a nuclear program -- there was none. UNMOVIC, asked for a few months in order to be sure that the same was true of everything else. (UNMOVIC's task was much larger -- not just chemical and biological weapons, but also delivery devices for same. )

Gary Maxwell

I still nominate CathyF for the best post of the day but here is a strong runner up for the award:

"History will show that none of the leading Democrats had substantial intelligence."
John F. Kerry

I could not have said it any better.

p.lukasiak

This tap dancing hurts the Democrats.

syl, lets face it hon, If Jesus Christ himself came down from heaven and annointed the entire Democratic Party leadership, you'd say it hurt the Democrats with its Jewish and anti-religous base.

Anonymous Liberal

This argument that, as President, Bush can't be expected to know the details, is a little strange to say the least. Sure, he's not a ground level analyst going over raw data, but surely his top advisors at least let him know what important pieces of intelligence supported their claims and how solid their conclusions were. Bush would know, for instance, whether we knew "beyond a doubt" if some particular claim was true (unless his aides were lying to him). And Bush would also know, for instance, what key facts supported claims regarding Iraq's nuclear capability (unless he was underinformed to the point of gross negligence). Advisors don't just come into the Oval Office and say, "sir, Iraq will have nuclear capability within six months" and then leave. They explain why they think this is the case, what intelligence supports it, and how solid that intelligence is.

Moreover, when Cheney and Rice make important speeches or appear on Meet the Press, you have to hold the President at least somewhat accountable for what they say. They're not loose cannons or independent contractors. Those speeches and appearances were part of a coordinated media strategy. The White House and the President are responsible for what they say.

There are legitimate issues here that deserve some investigation. Just because some unhinged lefties claim that Bush lied about everything doesn't mean that Bush (and his key advisors) didn't, in fact, mislead us about some specific things. If this had been a Democratic president, I suspect many of you would be very concerned about some of the statements that were made in the lead up to war. If some of you put the same effort into analyzing the Bush administration's pre-war statements that you do, say, dissecting Joe Wilson's every word, I think you'd be a little less inclined to dismiss Democratic charges off hand.

A lot of this is smoke, but there is some fire here.

Sue

P. Luk,

They have been wrong, over and over. Of course they can claim now they were right. But what were they right about? Their reports, pre-Iraq, said they couldn't account for missing WMDs. Blix now says they didn't have any after 1991. Everything they said, pre-Iraq, was with the qualification that they didn't know for sure. Everytime they looked one place, Saddam was acting strange at another place. People went in the front door while people were shagging out the back door. And even post-Iraq they all tell you Saddam was just in the waiting mode. Waiting for the sanctions to end before he started up his programs again.

Saddam was playing a game of chicken with the wrong chicken hunter this time.

Sue

AL,

I will submit to you that I didn't question anything I was being told by the Bush administration. Not one word. Why? Because like the rest of the country, I had just spent the last decade hearing the same thing, from a president from the other party. It would have been mind boggling to think that a democratic president and a republican president would hype the same intelligence for reasons other than national security. Surely Clinton wasn't 'waggin' the dog' when he trotted out the same arguments in 1998? Surely Clinton wasn't in collusion with Bush. Surely they both believed Saddam was a threat to our national security.

GT

Syl,

Well if you think we are winning other than offering you a bridge in Brooklyn i don't have much else to add.

In any case it doesn't matter what you or I think of Iraq but what the public thinks. And they think it's a mess. That's why Bush has such low job ratings. You are seriously deluding yourself if you think that "Iraq is a mess" was last year's talking point. It is today's reality, or at least the perceved reality which is all that matters in politics.

Syl

Sue

Saddam was playing a game of chicken with the wrong chicken hunter this time.

Exactly.

These tap dancers never ever consider Saddam's role in this. Never.

Sue

In a recent poll, the question that was shown that brought Bush's numbers down wasn't Iraq. It was high gasoline prices.

Sue

Of course not. On another site where I post, a certain poster has a line for everything that happens in the world...Bush dun it!

:)

Patrick R. Sullivan

Those of you who think there hasn't been an investigation about political pressure on the intelligence gatherers, need to acquaint yourselves with the Robb Silberman Report.

Though why you'd start getting the facts right after all this time....

Sue

In 1995, almost a 1,000 people died in the heat wave that struck Chicago. Mostly poor, mostly black, mostly elderly. Where were the cameras? Where was the media? Where was Clinton? Where was FEMA?

In 1998, when Clinton was talking up Saddam's WMDs, ABC was helping him, by running a special report about none other than Saddam and Osama. In fact, the picture morphed from Osama to Saddam as I sat there and watched the television screen. Why are they now so forgetful? :)

jukeboxgrad

Bush just said: "That's why more than a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate — who had access to the same intelligence — voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power."

What does "access to the same intelligence" mean? Same as whom? Same as Bush? Same as Kerry (who Bush was discussing in a prior sentence)?

If Bush is implying that the Democrats who voted for the war had the same intel as Bush did, that seems to be a lie (unless someone can show me that the classified NIE was distributed to all of Congress; Bush also had various other unique resources, as described here).

By the way, upthread it was suggested that Kerry was on the Senate Intelligence Committee in the period prior to the war. I think this is wrong. I think he left the Committee when Bush took office in 2001.

Many, many commentators are repeating this nonsense, that Congress saw the same intel that Bush had. A detailed discussion of this problem is here.

GT

No Sue, it was not high gasoline prices. Nice try though.

topsecretk9

Moreover, when Cheney and Rice make important speeches or appear on Meet the Press, you have to hold the President at least somewhat accountable for what they say. They're not loose cannons or independent contractors. Those speeches and appearances were part of a coordinated media strategy. The White House and the President are responsible for what they say.

Meet the Press 12/21/98

RUSSERT: Does Saddam Hussein still have biological and chemical weapons?

ALBRIGHT: Well, let me say that as a result of this mission that took 70 hours, Saddam Hussein is weaker. All the targets and things that he cares about most have been destroyed -- many of them.

The region is safer because we have managed, I think, to degrade his ability to threaten his neighbors. The box he is in is stronger because of the credibility of our use of force. We have done this all with a minimum of criticism in the international community. So I think that we have accomplished what we needed to.

But obviously it is very hard to say that everything that he has in the weapons of mass destruction has been destroyed. His capability of threatening his neighbors and delivering them has been severely degraded.

RUSSERT: When you say degraded, what does that mean? It means he still has them; he still has biological and chemical weapons.

ALBRIGHT: Well, it's hard for us to say that everything is gone. But let me just go through some of the things that happened.

There were 100 targets that were hit over four nights. There were 650 strike sorties; there were 400 cruise missiles delivered. The destruction was heavy and devastating, as I said, to most of the targets that he holds the most dear. So there were nine missile R&D (research and development) facilities hit; 18 out of 19 of his weapons of mass destruction security aspects -- that's the Republican Guard and his special concealment units -- were destroyed; 20 out of 21 command and control areas, 20 were damaged severely or destroyed; and eight palaces.

So when he claims he's victorious, that is sheer propaganda.

RUSSERT: But he has the capacity to rebuild very, very quickly. And if he, in fact, rebuilds all those sites six months from now up and running, what do we do?

ALBRIGHT: Well, we're back; and we have said very clearly that we reserve the right to use force again. I think we've proven our ability to deliver a very tough blow.

ALBRIGHT: Well, let me say that obviously there is no silver bullet for dealing with Saddam Hussein or it all would have been taken care of a long time ago.

We have been able to maintain the toughest sanctions regime in the history of those kinds of regimes. But this mission was designed in order to degrade Saddam's weapons of mass destruction programs and those associated delivery systems and his ability to threaten his neighbors. That has been a successfully accomplished mission. In the longer term, we have made very clear that we would like to see a different regime -- a regime that respects the international community, but most of all, reflects what the Iraqi people want. That is what we're going to be working towards by more active support of the various opposition groups.

kim

You know Saddam is still alive. If the Democrats really want some populist mojo for '06 and '08 then let them promote the idea of putting him back in charge. By golly, that'll keep the ayatollahs on guard too. Oh, Boy, a twofer.
===========================================

jukeboxgrad

Patrick: "Those of you who think there hasn't been an investigation about political pressure on the intelligence gatherers, need to acquaint yourselves with the Robb Silberman Report."

Those of you who think the Silberman-Robb report had a mandate to investigate the manipulation of intelligence need to acquaint yourself with this language from the report: "[W]e were not authorized to investigate how policymakers used the intelligence assessments they received from the Intelligence Community. Accordingly, while we interviewed a host of current and former policymakers during the course of our investigation, the purpose of those interviews was to learn about how the Intelligence Community reached and communicated its judgments about Iraq's weapons programs--not to review how policymakers subsequently used that information."

Aside from that, SR did indeed find, and gloss over, various signs of politicization of intelligence, as I described here.

"Though why you'd start getting the facts right after all this time...."

Indeed.

Syl

GT

It's really funny how the press and its fellow travelers operate. They put out half-truths and bad analysis then do a poll to see if the public gets their message.

Well, the public will be getting the truth now. Bush is no longer sitting back quietly and taking it.

The left in this country doesn't care what happens outside our borders unless it hurts Bush. I mean Kristof uses Juan Cole as his sole source for analysis of Iraq? Give me a break, the man has never ever even been there.

There are hundreds of people who have just as much knowledge and more, and better analysis, than Cole, that the left will not even listen to. Cole tells them what they want to hear so there's no point in looking further.

The situation in Iraq is not tamed yet and it still will take a while. But calling it a 'mess' or a disaster does not give justice to all that is going on there or in the broader region. We are winning but it still will take a while.

Stay the course and there's a damn good chance the entire region will democratize. Syria is on the verge of falling apart. If we handle it right that will be another country in our corner. If we leave Iraq, Iraq fails, Syria fails, and Iran becomes a prime super power in the region.

There's just too much at stake to even think of cutting out. Abandoning our mission will plunge our reputation to such depths that we would never recover. And you can imagine what our perceived weakness would do to our security.


Syl

JBG

One question.

Were you for the war before you were aginst it? Or were you against it all along?

GT

Syl,

What, you think Bush is only now talking about Iraq?

sigh


I'm not interested in debating if it's a mess or not. It's a waste of time.

Tjhe fact is Americans think it is and that's why Bush is such a hated president. Blaming the media maymake you feel better but it won't change a thing.

Syl

Tjhe fact is Americans think it is and that's why Bush is such a hated president.

Bush is not hated except by the people who have hated him all along.

Try again.

boris

The libs and dems are trying to talk the country into folding a winning hand.

Fat chance.

Syl

Kim

If the Democrats really want some populist mojo for '06 and '08 then let them promote the idea of putting [Saddam] back in charge.

LOL

Will Chalabi do? That'll drive the left right over the edge.

boris

Any work in progress can usually be described as "a mess". People who do that are clearly losers.

kim

Hey GT, and al: Check with the Iraqis to see if this has been a waste of time.

And what a waste of brainpower to dismiss the Iraqi situation as a waste of time.
==============================================

Syl

GT

I repeat: Abandoning our mission will plunge our reputation to such depths that we would never recover. And you can imagine what our perceived weakness would do to our security.

So if you say that does not matter because the people hate Bush, then it would be a good idea to do your part to help change their minds.

GT

Sorry syl he is despised by a growing number of Americans.

But if you want to think he is popular go ahead.

topsecretk9

Al Gore, May 23, 2000

The classic challenges of war and peace, of course, extend beyond Israel's immediate neighborhood, to Iraq and Iran. In 1991, I broke with many in my own party and voted to use force to stop Saddam Hussein's aggression in the Middle East. I believe in bipartisanship, most of all when our national interests are at stake in foreign policy. Throughout my service in the House and Senate, as many of you know, I was frequently among the small group that tried to build bipartisan bridges to bring Democrats and Republicans together in support of policies that would promote what is in our nation's best interest.

Despite our swift victory and our efforts since, there is no doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein still seeks to amass weapons of mass destruction. You know as well as I do that as long as Saddam Hussein stays in power there can be no comprehensive peace for the people of Israel or the people of the Middle East. We have made it clear that it is our policy to see Saddam Hussein gone.

We have sought coalitions of opponents to challenge his power. I have met with the Iraqi opposition and I have invited them to meet with me again next month, when I will encourage them to further unite in their efforts against Saddam.

We have maintained sanctions in the face of rising criticism, while improving the oil-for-food program to help the Iraqi people directly. We have used force when necessary, and that has been frequently. And we will not let up in our efforts to free Iraq from Saddam's rule. Should he think of challenging us, I would strongly advise against it. As a senator, I voted for the use of force, as vice president I supported the use of force. If entrusted with the presidency, my resolve will never waiver. Never waiver.

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