Monday, July 12, 2004

The Senate Intelligence Committee report does not absolve the White House of responsibility for hyping intelligence about Iraq

Why you're right:

1. The report tells only half the story. It purposely avoids any serious evaluation of White House efforts to pressure the CIA. The report ignores "the ways intelligence was used, misused, misinterpreted or ignored by administration policymakers in deciding to go to war and in making the case to the American people that war with Iraq was necessary." Republicans on the committee insisted that a thorough investigation of the White House's role be relegated to a second report – to be released after the election. (Washington Post)

2. When the CIA did get it right, the White House ignored it. According to the report, the CIA repeatedly warned the administration that there was no "established formal relationship" between al-Qaeda and Iraq but that hasn’t stopped Bush and Cheney from continuing to make that claim. In October 2002, George Tenet personally warned National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice that the president shouldn't claim that Iraq attempted to obtain uranium from Africa because "the evidence was weak." But that didn't stop the president from making that charge in his State of the Union address just three months later. (Intelligence Committee Report, Fox News, 2003 State of the Union)

3. White House rhetoric started before the most serious CIA distortions. Much of the Intelligence Committee's report focused on the inaccuracies of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate. That report was issued more than a year after Bush and other top-level administration officials were publicly declaring the dangers posed by Iraq's supposed WMD stockpiles. (Talking Points Memo)

Why they're wrong:

The president, not the CIA, made the decision to go to war. And the president is ultimately responsible for that decision. The fact that intelligence can be flawed only further illustrates the problems with Bush's doctrine of pre-emption – which allows for the possibility of a full-scale invasion based almost exclusively on intelligence reports.