Tuesday, January 27, 2004
WMD Round-Up Yeeeeeeeee-Haaaaaah!!!!!
While this is far from an admission of doubt, it's also not anywhere close to the kind of certainty Bush had formerly expressed -- a fact that didn't go unnoticed in the foreign press.
The Administration will take a hit on this, but they appear to have succeeded in getting their version of the facts out to the public. Some examples:
The lead from an AP story by Katherine Pfleger reads, "The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Tuesday that resigned U.S. weapons inspector David Kay is doing the nation's intelligence system a favor with his harsh criticism of the CIA's flawed prewar estimates on Iraq's weapons capabilities." link
And the New York Times today published an unsigned editorial -- widely linked to throughout the left web -- which included the following paragraph: "Although administration officials cling to the hope of finding some evidence of terror weapons in a cubbyhole somewhere in Iraq, surely it is time to focus on how the intelligence could have been so wrong and perhaps avoid making the same mistakes with the next secretive dictator to come along. Mr. Kay largely exonerates President Bush and blames the global intelligence community. He believes the C.I.A. became so reliant on the much-maligned United Nations weapons inspectors that their withdrawal left it without spies of its own." link
Slate's Fred Kaplan notices that "Kay falls short of making a full break with the Bush administration" but does so in the context of an essay built around the thesis that Kay's release from government service has freed him to speak his mind. Moreover, in a discussion of Kay's claim that Hussein was lied to by his own weapons researchers, Kaplan speculates that, "it's quite likely that the CIA itself was deceived, intercepting some of these phony reports and treating them as credulously as Saddam did."
The question is, will the Administration succeed in positioning the failure to find WMDs as a failure of the intelligence community, or will it fall on their own heads? Or maybe a better question is, what's the best way to make sure it falls on their heads?
Robert Sheer seems to have settled on the strategy of ignoring Kay's CIA allegations. He writes, "In no previous instance of presidential malfeasance was so much at stake, both in preserving constitutional safeguards and national security. This egregious deception in leading us to war on phony intelligence overshadows those scandals based on greed, such as Teapot Dome during the Harding administration, or those aimed at political opponents, such as Watergate. And the White House continues to dig itself deeper into a hole by denying reality even as its lieutenants one by one find the courage to speak the truth."
But later in the same essay, Sheer approaches the issue that's been worrying me, writing,"The maddening aspect of all this is that we haven't needed Kay to set the record straight. The administration's systematic abuse of the facts, including the fraudulent link of Hussein to 9/11, has been obvious for two years. That's why 23 former U.S. intelligence experts including several who quit in disgust have been willing to speak out in Robert Greenwald's shocking documentary "Uncovered." The story they tell is one of an administration that went to war for reasons that smack of empire-building, then constructed a false reality to sell it to the American people." link
There has for months been enough evidence out there to build the case that the Administration manipulated intelligence to make Iraq look like more of a threat than it was. But the record shows that most Americans weren't convinced by that argument. The anti-war left wants to believe that an admission by the Administration that WMDs won't be found will suddenly render the argument persuasive. But because the Administration can turn around and blame the CIA, the admission needn't have that effect.
Daniel Ellsberg theorizes that, "there are thousands of pages of documents in safes in London and Washington right now - the Pentagon Papers of Iraq - whose unauthorized revelation would drastically alter the public discourse on whether we should continue sending our children to die in Iraq," and calls on those who have access to those documents to take the personal risk of releasing them, "on the scale necessary to return foreign policy to democratic control." link
I tend to think that it's going to take a mountain of evidence to convince the voting public that the Administration engaged in a deliberate program of lying the nation into war. So I'd like to see Ellsberg's advice followed. But there's nothing you, me, or Howard Dean can do to bring that about.