” . . . the intelligence and the facts were being fixed around the policy.”
We went to war in Iraq at 5:30 a.m. Baghadad time on March 20, 2003.
For more than a year before we launched Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Bush administration went to great lengths to try to convince us and the rest of the world that the war was necessary because Saddam Hussein possessed and might use weapons of mass destruction–WMDs.
In the State of the Union message on January 29, 2002, President Bush said that Iraq was part of an “axis of evil” and vowed that the United States “will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons.”
On February 5, 2003, then Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the United Nations. He presented a detailed summary of what U.S. and other intelligence services supposedly knew about Hussein’s WMDs. Powell concluded, “The United States will not and cannot run that risk to the American people. Leaving Saddam Hussein in possession of weapons of mass destruction for a few more months or years is not an option, not in a post-September 11th world.”
In short, President Bush put his credibility, Powell’s credibility, and our credibility as a nation on the line with the repeated assertion that Hussein possessed WMDs.
We all know that these WMDs were never found and did not exist.
On July 9, 2004 the Senate Intelligence Committee released its unanimous, bipartisan report on pre-war intelligence on Iraq. The committee harshly criticized the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies for “mischaractarizing” or “overstating” their findings. In other words, the blame was placed on the intelligence agencies for misinforming Congress and the President.
It turns out that the truth was very different.
By July 23, 2002, President Bush and his adminsitration had decided to go to war in Iraq. From that point on, a just-released secret memo reveals, “. . . the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”
On May 1, 2005, the Sunday Times published a secret, “eyes only” memo that summarized a meeting between Tony Blair and his top advisors that took place on July 23, 2002. They were briefed by Richard Dearlove, then head of Britain’s MI-6 intelligence agency, who was just back from consultations in Washington. Dearlove told Blain that U.S. military action was inevitable, and would be “justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD.”
“It seemed clear that bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided,” the summary continues. “But the case was thin.”
(You can read the memo for yourself at: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-1593607,00.html).
One might think that a thin case for a decision as weighty as taking the U.S. to war might be a problem. “But,” Blair was assured, “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”
Our intelligence agencies didn’t get it wrong by accident. They got it wrong because they were told to plump up that thin case, to drum up enough noise to back Bush’s WMD justification of the war. Why blame them? They were just following orders.
“Fixing” the intelligence doesn’t seem to have been that hard for Bush and his team. Unfortunately, fixing the facts has turned out to be somewhat more difficult, as the failure to find WMDs, and the continuing chaos and carnage in Iraq show. Among the facts that are most difficult to fix are the 1,593 American soldiers who have died in Iraq so far, and the $300 billion the war has already cost us.
President Bush lied to us. He took us to war, he said, because Saddam Hussein had and might use WMDs. He told us that our intelligence agencies knew those WMDs existed. It was “a slalm dunk.” Yet all the time he (and Tony Blair) knew perfectly well that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”
Policy first. Then the decision to go to war. Then fix the intellience and the facts to justify the war.
Which means that this President flat-out lied to the American people and the rest of the world, not about his sex life, but about starting a war.
Is this the President you want for the next three years?