Rockefeller Report Not All It Seems
Unless It Seems Partisan.
Fred Hiatt perused the report issued by Jay Rockefeller and the Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee accusing George Bush and Dick Cheney of deception and misdirection leading up to the war on Iraq, and finds something missing: evidence. Not only does Rockefeller fail to substantiate his accusations, the report itself contradicts his public conclusions. It also sets a bar so high for action on intelligence that its absorption could paralyze the US in confronting threats until far too late.
It gets worse.
There’s no question that the administration, and particularly Vice President Cheney, spoke with too much certainty at times and failed to anticipate or prepare the American people for the enormous undertaking in Iraq.
But dive into Rockefeller’s [Intelligence Committee] report, in search of where exactly President Bush lied about what his intelligence agencies were telling him about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, and you may be surprised by what you find.
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.”
A right wing blogger? No. That’s The Washington Post. You know – that nest of rabid Bush supporters.
The Anchoress has done a little research.
Bush did not lie. Others did – lots of others – but Bush did not lie. All he ever said was the same thing Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Jay Rockefeller, John Kerry, John Edwards, Madeline Albright and so many others said, over, and over, and over. Either they were all lying, or none of them were, and our intelligence (and much of the world’s and the UN’s) was a catastrophic failure.
What Rockefeller does in this report is to walk back the threshold, saying now that we should have waited for more evidence. That may or may not be true; after 9/11, which was the specific frame of reference Rockefeller himself used in his “imminent threat” speech, waiting for more evidence could mean waiting until an attack occurs, especially in an era of asymmetric warfare. That would at least be an honest debate, but Rockefeller eschews that for unsupported accusations of dishonesty in what turns out to be a dishonest report. He certainly felt in 2002 that Bush used the right threshold after seeing the same intel that Bush had. If we have to wait for Perry Mason-like evidence, it ensures that the US will never take action on its intelligence until it is far, far too late.
I think that’s the very definition of “the triumph of partisan politics”.