Bob's Links and Rants

Welcome to my rants page! You can contact me by e-mail: Blog roll. Site feed.

Friday, July 09, 2004

A failure of intelligence, to be sure

Michelle has a long post on the Senate Intelligence Committee's report blasting pre-war intelligence on Iraq. The first part, that is, the part that blames the now even more rudderless CIA. The second part, blaming the Bush administration, is due to come out after it's too late to do anything about it.

Senators Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) held a press conference this morning discussing what's in the report. Read Michelle's post if you want to see a good parsing of their comments.

There are a couple of things I want to add. First, it is a good thing to have a prominent Republican senator like Roberts clearly state that the reasons given for the war were wrong, even if he hedges on the complicity of the administration and leaves open the possibility that the war was somehow an "honest" mistake. David Kay and Richard Clarke should have been more than enough, but a quote from a Republican red-state senator which states clearly that Saddam was not a threat is powerful ammunition in arguments with people who still defend Bush.

Second, the debate seems to be over whether the CIA misled Bush, or Bush (Cheney/Feith) forced the CIA to deliver crappy intelligence, or maybe the CIA gave Bush great intelligence and he ignored it. While the last two conclusions make Bush even guiltier, the first one in no way gets him off the hook, even if you accept the dubious argument that he bears no responsibility for how the CIA works (he'd been president for nearly two years at the time in question). The reason Bush is still Cheneying guilty as sin is because UN inspectors went into Iraq for four months, looked everywhere they were asked to look, and found nothing. Perhaps not conclusive enough to acquit Saddam immediately of WMD possession, but surely plenty to raise questions about the quality of the intelligence and suggest that maybe the war be put off. I don't recall either Roberts or Rockefeller raising these questions back in February and March of 2003 when they could have made a difference: "Um, Mr. President, our intelligence is looking a little shaky here. Perhaps we should investigate further before sending thousands to their deaths?" No, only Rockefeller's fellow West Virginian Robert Byrd, Dennis Kucinich, and a very few others in Congress troubled themselves to ask that question. Two weeks before the war officially started, Nancy Pelosi suggested it was too late to do anything about it. Well, it is now, Nancy. Tell it to Lila Lipscomb.