Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Bush claims about prewar intelligence debunked

Saw this via Kos, and it should be echoed repeatedly to counter the GOP spin:
Former Florida Sen. Bob Graham (D) -- he of the meticulous notetaking -- lays out what most Democrats knew about Saddam and Iraq before the vote to authorize force. Needless to say, assertions by the administration that Dems knew everything the administration knew are [simply ridiculous].

In February 2002, after a briefing on the status of the war in Afghanistan, the commanding officer, Gen. Tommy Franks, told me the war was being compromised as specialized personnel and equipment were being shifted from Afghanistan to prepare for the war in Iraq -- a war more than a year away. Even at this early date, the White House was signaling that the threat posed by Saddam Hussein was of such urgency that it had priority over the crushing of al Qaeda [...]

At a meeting of the Senate intelligence committee on Sept. 5, 2002, CIA Director George Tenet was asked what the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) provided as the rationale for a preemptive war in Iraq. An NIE is the product of the entire intelligence community, and its most comprehensive assessment. I was stunned when Tenet said that no NIE had been requested by the White House and none had been prepared. Invoking our rarely used senatorial authority, I directed the completion of an NIE.

Tenet objected, saying that his people were too committed to other assignments to analyze Saddam Hussein's capabilities and will to use chemical, biological and possibly nuclear weapons. We insisted, and three weeks later the community produced a classified NIE.

There were troubling aspects to this 90-page document. While slanted toward the conclusion that Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction stored or produced at 550 sites, it contained vigorous dissents on key parts of the information, especially by the departments of State and Energy. Particular skepticism was raised about aluminum tubes that were offered as evidence Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program. As to Hussein's will to use whatever weapons he might have, the estimate indicated he would not do so unless he was first attacked.

Under questioning, Tenet added that the information in the NIE had not been independently verified by an operative responsible to the United States. In fact, no such person was inside Iraq. Most of the alleged intelligence came from Iraqi exiles or third countries, all of which had an interest in the United States' removing Hussein, by force if necessary.
Note, that classified NIE was not available to every congressperson. Just to members of the Senate and House committees on intelligence.

Graham asked Tenet to produce an unclassified version of the NIE. But what the CIA produced was a propaganda piece absent any of the reservations or caveats presented in the classified edition of the document. The vast majority of senators and congressment, much less the American people, did not see the full classified document.

Hence, Bush's claims that congressional Democrats had access to the same intelligence that the administration had is [simply ridiculous].
In the past week President Bush has twice attacked Democrats for being hypocrites on the Iraq war. "[M]ore than 100 Democrats in the House and Senate, who had access to the same intelligence, voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power," he said.

The president's attacks are outrageous. Yes, more than 100 Democrats voted to authorize him to take the nation to war. Most of them, though, like their Republican colleagues, did so in the legitimate belief that the president and his administration were truthful in their statements that Saddam Hussein was a gathering menace -- that if Hussein was not disarmed, the smoking gun would become a mushroom cloud.

The president has undermined trust. No longer will the members of Congress be entitled to accept his veracity. Caveat emptor has become the word. Every member of Congress is on his or her own to determine the truth.
Not just Congress, but the American people as well.
The administration wanted war with Iraq - period. It's good to see Graham debunking the old Bush talking point that members of Congress had access to the same information he did. Since the administration does not concern itself with the truth, it is impossible to take what they say at face value.

It's hard to believe, but Rumsfeld was back on the talk shows yesterday, with the tired, pathetic "we're making progress" nonsense. No wonder the public doesn't buy this garbage any more. They're tired of getting this:

Nothing to See Here

That's why Bush's approval ratings continue to sink - and why a majority of the American people now say they no longer trust him.

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