WMD Report: We Bombed in Iraq
You won't believe what Bush says about it
THE SECOND AND third paragraphs of the WMD Commission's letter accompanying its 618-page report, delivered to George W. Bush today, could hardly be clearer:
We conclude that the Intelligence Community was dead wrong in almost all of its pre-war judgments about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. This was a major intelligence failure. Its principal causes were the Intelligence Community's inability to collect good information about Iraq's WMD programs, serious errors in analyzing what information it could gather, and a failure to make clear just how much of its analysis was based on assumptions, rather than good evidence. On a matter of this importance, we simply cannot afford failures of this magnitude.
After a thorough review, the Commission found no indication that the Intelligence Community distorted the evidence regarding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. What the intelligence professionals told you about Saddam Hussein's programs was what they believed. They were simply wrong.
Not as wrong as Bush's reaction during his press conference. The commission found that the warnings that Iraq had WMD were "simply wrong." In other words, the threat was overestimated.
- Our collection and analysis of intelligence will never be perfect, but in an age where our margin for error is getting smaller, in an age in which we are at war, the consequences of underestimating a threat could be tens of thousands of innocent lives.
Grrrr! The threat was overestimated, you ninny. And it was your handlers who did it.
- Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.
No, his handlers knew very well what he was saying Thursday. And there's no reason to doubt that, once again, the nakedly lying Bush regime will somehow be portrayed in the press tomorrow morning as fully clothed.
We knew when Bush set up the commission in February 2004 that it was a sham. Read John Dean's sharp analysis from back then. Here's an excerpt:
Everyone understands that Bush has removed the issue from the 2004 campaign by not requiring his commission to report until March 31, 2005long after the election. But in fact, he has done much more than this to assure that this commission causes him no political problems. One need only look at the President's statement announcing the commission to understand that Bush is not playing it straight.
For example, he succinctly stated the inquiry's purpose (when reading his prepared statement) as follows: "The commission I have appointed today will examine intelligence on weapons of mass destruction and related 21st century threats and issue specific recommendations to ensure our capabilities are strong. The commission will compare what the Iraq Survey Group learns with the information we had prior to our Operation Iraqi Freedom. It will review our intelligence on weapons programs in countries such as North Korea and Iran. It will examine our intelligence on the threats posed by Libya and Afghanistan before recent changes in those countries."
What does any of that have to do with whether or not the Bush administration misused, falsely reported, or concocted intelligence to take the nation to war? Nothing.
It'll take a different group of shamuses than this commission to unravel exactly how the Bush regime twisted the intelligence info about Iraq WMD that it received from the CIA. Chief makeup artist Larry Silberman and the rest of the WMD Commission weren't even instructed to answer that all-important question, as Dean and others noted.
And the report's focus is shrewdly placed on underlings. That undoubtedly will get good play tomorrow morning, and there will be cries for "reform." Once again, in a scene familiar to practically all Americans who toil in stultifying bureaucracies, workers have to pay for their bosses' mistakes.
Dana Priest of the Washington Post summed it up best in her online exchange earlier today with readers:
St. Marys, Georgia: Who, if anyone, is going to be held accountable for being "dead wrong?" It seems no one has been held accountable in the past few years ... but "dead wrong" is pretty strong language and I hope it is not ignored.
Dana Priest: Well, President Bush gave George Tenet the Medal of Freedom. And the voters gave President Bush another term. SecDef Rumsfeld is in perfect standing with the president. His deputy is moving on to head the World Bank. The head of the other large intel agency, the National Security Agency (does eavesdropping) is becoming Negroponte's deputy. That leaves only the worker bees.
Another reader asks another question that no doubt will be glossed over by most of the press. But not by Priest:
New York, N.Y.: How could the commission possibly find out whether the intel had been "politicized" if it never spoke to the politicians involved? This is insulting.
Dana Priest: This commission was very secretive about how it did its work. We really don't know for certain if they interviewed the president or vice president (I don't think they did). I do think they interviewed then NSC director Rice and her deputy.
Priest is too busy producing some of the best coverage of the Bush regime to give long answers, so check out her entire online exchange with readers. Here's one last one:
Houston, Texas: Does this report examine the role of the White House, particularly the VP and his staff in shaping the data on WMD?
Dana Priest: No.
In other words, Houston, we have a problem.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.