Enough already with the “Bush Lied” claims. From both sides! From any number of Democrats who continue in their attempts to rewrite history in an effort to make it appear as if they knew all along that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, to many in the current field of Republican 2016 candidates, and soon to be candidates, who appear to be only too eager to throw George W. Bush under the bus in what, I guess, is an effort to make it appear as if ‘they’ would have never taken the nation to war in the first place. Look, there is plenty of criticism that can be leveled against George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003, but the one critique that simply does not hold water is that he somehow deliberately mislead (lied to) the country about Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction.
With the new cool question to ask any of the Republican 2016 contenders, and even perspective contenders, now being, “knowing what we know now, would you have invaded Iraq,” the debate about pre-Iraq war intelligence has once again come to the forefront. Predictably, some liberals have used the occasion to again trot out the wholly dishonest spin that the Bush administration concocted evidence and pressured the intelligence community into saying that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. Here’s Peter Beinart, someone known for being an American political pundit and who actually supported the Iraq war, has been busying himself propagating this sort of idiotic drivel most recently courtesy of a piece in ‘The Atlantic’. According to Mr. Beinart:
“To understand how ludicrous that position is, it’s worth remembering a few things. First, the evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction was extremely weak. Yes, the U.S. government in October 2002 produced a National Intelligence Estimate that appeared to suggest Iraq had chemical and biological weapons and a nuclear-weapons program. But a 2004 Senate review concluded that “most of the major key judgments in the Intelligence Community’s October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) … either overstated, or were not supported by, the underlying intelligence reporting.” The NIE, which was produced under intense pressure from White House and Pentagon officials seeking a justification for war, painted a far more menacing picture of Iraq’s WMD programs than had previous U.S. assessments. As the head of British intelligence famously remarked, “intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” The unclassified summary of the NIE was also far more categorical than the full, classified version, which, according to Florida Senator Bob Graham, was “pocked with dissent, conditions, [and] minority opinions on a variety of critical issues.” After reading the full NIE, Graham voted against authorizing war. Unfortunately, by one estimate, only a half-dozen other senators bothered to do so.”
Now if any of this was true that would be one thing, but there is very little, if any, truth in any of Beinart’s rather idiotic rant. It is little more than one man’s purposeful attempt to recast past events so as to more favorably agree with Democrat rhetoric, to rewrite history in such a way as to create the perception, at least, that the rationale for going into Iraq was based on nothing more than a lie of the worst kind and perpetrated by Bush and others in his administration. But let’s not forget the fact that Democrats dating back to the Clinton administration also believed that Iraq had stockpiles of WMDs based on the intelligence they saw. But the evidence against this lie is so much greater than that. And the debunking of this recurring myth has been underway now for a number of years. For instance:
1.) Read the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq’s W.M.D programs. “Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons as well as missiles with ranges in excess of UN restrictions; if left unchecked, it probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade,” the report reads. The report goes on to say it has “high confidence” that “Iraq possesses proscribed chemical and biological weapons and missiles” and “Iraq could make a nuclear weapon in months to a year once it acquires sufficient weapons-grad fissile material.”
2.) Read Bob Woodard’s account of then-CIA director’s George Tenet’s briefing of the George W. Bush on the eve of the Iraq war. According to the Washington Post journalist, Tenet told Bush that it was a “slam dunk case” that Iraq had W.M.D.s. Tenet later said he was taken out of context, but that doesn’t seem to be the case and, in any event, Tenet doesn’t deny he was fundamentally confident that Iraq possessed W.M.D.s.
3.) General Tommy Franks, who led the invasion of Iraq in 2003, writes in his book that he was not only told by Egyptian and Jordanian leaders that Iraq possessed W.M.D.s, he was also told that Saddam would use them against invading American troops.
4.) Former CIA agent Kenneth Pollock has noted that the world’s most vaunted intelligence agencies, including some of those who opposed the war in Iraq, all believed Saddam Hussein possessed W.M.D.s. These include the intelligence agencies of Germany, Israel, Russia, Britain, China and France.
5.) As Barry “Almighty” contemplated whether to authorize the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, he was told by CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell that the evidence indicating that Iraq had W.M.D.s before the Iraq war was “much stronger” than the evidence that bin Laden was living in the Abbottabad compound. “And I’m telling you, the case for W.M.D. wasn’t just stronger—it was much stronger,” he told the president.
In fact, Morell recently published a book where he reiterates the aforementioned point and emphatically states that the Bush administration did not pressure the CIA whatsoever to conclude there were WMDs in Iraq. A book in which he writes: “The view that hardliners in the Bush administration forced the intelligence community into its position on WMD is just flat wrong.” And he goes on to say, “No one pushed. The analysts were already there and they had been there for years, long before Bush came to office.” Which oddly enough, or maybe not so oddly, is similar to the conclusion of 2005’s bipartisan Robb-Silberman Commission. The report states, “[W]e closely examined the possibility that intelligence analysts were pressured by policymakers to change their judgments about Iraq’s nuclear, biological, chemical weapons programs.”
It’s this very same report also goes on to say, “The analysts who worked Iraqi weapons issues universally agreed that in no instance did political pressure cause them to skew or alter any of their analytical judgments.” And in going back to Morell’s book, he writes, “An NIE represents the authoritative view of the entire intelligence community on an issue. They are carefully considered. The coordination sessions among the analysts are rigorous and NIEs are approved by the leadership of each agencies in the community.” As for the conclusions laid out in the NIE that Iraq had stockpiles of WMDs, “there was little controversy” within the intelligence community, Morell continued.
And in his book Morell says, “One agency, the State Department’s intelligence shop, dissented on one aspect of the paper, the nuclear question, but agreed on all others because almost everyone who had looked at the issue — from intelligence services around the world to think tanks and the United Nations itself — had come to the same conclusion,” he went on. “There were no outliers, no group with a different view. No one to force a broader debate that might have led to a more rigorous assessment on the part of the analysts. Group think turned out to be part of the problem.” And Beinart, in referring to the Downing Street Memo, mentions that a British analyst argued in 2002 that “intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy” of removing Saddam Hussein from power. But even that’s not much of a leg to stand on.
So criticize Bush’s decision to go into Iraq all you want. But the evidence was what it was. Our intelligence community got it wrong about Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction. Bush didn’t lie, nor did his administration pressure the intelligence community into concluding what it said about WMDs. And wouldn’t it be nice if I could say, and with some confidence, that it was only those on the left who can’t seem to stop falsifying history. Sadly, it’s also many on our side who are also revisionists in their own way, apparently in the hope of scoring some cheap political points as they go about trying to convince the American people of their viability. Which, and I hate to disappoint them, does absolutely nothing to convince me that I should vote for any of these pathetic political opportunists.