A report issued Thursday by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on the administration’s pre-war claims about Iraq was used by partisan Democrats to strongly imply that the administration “lied” about the justifications used for the Iraq war. Of course, many Democrats, both in Congress and in the punditocracy, have been claiming for years that the admin “lied” about WMDs, AQ in Iraq, and just about every other piece of intelligence used to justify going to war with Iraq. And now they are using this report as some type of “definitive proof” of it.
On Iraq’s nuclear weapons program? The president’s statements “were generally substantiated by intelligence community estimates.”
On biological weapons, production capability and those infamous mobile laboratories? The president’s statements “were substantiated by intelligence information.”
On chemical weapons, then? “Substantiated by intelligence information.”
On weapons of mass destruction overall (a separate section of the intelligence committee report)? “Generally substantiated by intelligence information.” Delivery vehicles such as ballistic missiles? “Generally substantiated by available intelligence.” Unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to deliver WMDs? “Generally substantiated by intelligence information.”
As you read through the report, you begin to think maybe you’ve mistakenly picked up the minority dissent. But, no, this is the Rockefeller indictment. So, you think, the smoking gun must appear in the section on Bush’s claims about Saddam Hussein’s alleged ties to terrorism.
But statements regarding Iraq’s support for terrorist groups other than al-Qaeda “were substantiated by intelligence information.” Statements that Iraq provided safe haven for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and other terrorists with ties to al-Qaeda “were substantiated by the intelligence assessments,” and statements regarding Iraq’s contacts with al-Qaeda “were substantiated by intelligence information.” The report is left to complain about “implications” and statements that “left the impression” that those contacts led to substantive Iraqi cooperation.
In the report’s final section, the committee takes issue with Bush’s statements about Saddam Hussein’s intentions and what the future might have held. But was that really a question of misrepresenting intelligence, or was it a question of judgment that politicians are expected to make?
I guess with all the progress we’ve been seeing from Iraq since the start of the surge last year, and the fact that as a result more and more Democrats in the House and Senate are looking like fools for opposing the surge, perhaps Senate Dems felt they felt like they had to do something (disingenuous) in an attempt to distract from that progress.
What does all this prove? That once again Congressional Democrats are playing politics with the Iraq war in an effort to gain more traction in an election year – probably in an attempt to help out their anti-war nominee, even when they know that the prior administration made almost identical claims about the threat from Iraq, and even though they have to know that their own report repeatedly points out that Bush’s claims were “generally substantiated by available intelligence.”