I’ve written before in response to those who claim “Bush Lied!” in leading us to war–apparently to little effect. In today’s edition of the WSJ, the editorial board uses Libby’s indictment as an opportunity to clarify who knew what.
Harry Reid called for a closed session in the Senate to review Libby’s indictment and how it supports their ongoing effort to prove Bush cooked the (intelligence) books in leading us to war. The truth is four separate investigations (read ’em, 4!) have found no evidence of intelligence manipulation.
– In July 2004, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a bipartisan 500-page report that found numerous failures of intelligence gathering and analysis. As for the Bush Administration’s role, “The Committee did not find any evidence that Administration officials attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to change their judgments related to Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction,” (our emphasis).
– The Butler Report, published by the British in July 2004, similarly found no evidence of “deliberate distortion,” although it too found much to criticize in the quality of prewar intelligence.
– The March 2005 Robb-Silberman report on WMD intelligence was equally categorical, finding “no evidence of political pressure to influence the Intelligence Community’s pre-war assessments of Iraq’s weapons programs. â€¦ analysts universally asserted that in no instance did political pressure cause them to skew or alter any of their analytical judgments. We conclude that it was the paucity of intelligence and poor analytical tradecraft, rather than political pressure, that produced the inaccurate pre-war intelligence assessments.”
– Finally, last Friday, there was Mr. Fitzgerald: “This indictment’s not about the propriety of the war, and people who believe fervently in the war effort, people who oppose it, people who are — have mixed feelings about it should not look to this indictment for any resolution of how they feel or any vindication of how they feel.”
Everyone who has looked at the intelligence concluded that there was no distortion of intelligence except Joe Wilson. Remember him? It was his wife who was “outed” by Robert Novak. The independent investigation of this brought Libby’s indictment which many have taken as a sign that Bush must have lied. Truth is, Mr. Wilson lied in his report to the press on Saddam’s negotiation with Niger.
“Those reports clearly showed that, while Saddam had probably not purchased yellowcake from Niger, the dictator had almost certainly tried.”
Mr. Wilson knew that Saddam had tried to purchase nuclear material from Niger which would seem to indicate (to a reasonable observer) that SH was pursuing development and production of WMD.
Question: Who else besides Bush thought Saddam had WMD? A clue: these people all saw the same intel as Bush.
Here is Al Gore from September 23, 2002, amid the Congressional debate over going to war: “We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country.”
Or Hillary Rodham Clinton, from October 10, 2002: “In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda membersâ€¦”
Or Senator Jay Rockefeller, the Democratic Vice Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, who is now leading the “Bush lied” brigades (from October 10, 2002): “There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five yearsâ€¦ We also should remember we have always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction.” If Mr. Bush is a liar, what does the use of the phrase “unmistakable evidence” make Mr. Rockefeller? A fool?
As the WSJ notes, “the scandal here isn’t what happened before the war. The scandal is that the same Democrats who saw the same intelligence that Mr. Bush saw, who drew the same conclusions, and who voted to go to war are now using the difficulties we’ve encountered in that conflict as an excuse to rewrite history.”
As a historian-in-training I understand the power of history in creating the collective identity of a people. Change history, change a people’s collective memory, and you change and control the agenda. Democrats hope that by repeating a lie often enough that it will somehow be believed (evidenced by many comments and opinion polls) and accepted as truth. For some reason, established media is facilitating this re-write, this ‘propogandization’ of history.