Monday, June 9, 2008

An Astonishing Source For This

The Washington Post is one of the leading liberal newspapers in the U.S. It is also one of the leading newspapers in the U.S., regardless of political orientation. A lot of very ordinary papers around the country rely on the Washington Post and New York Times for wisdom and news. It is therefore astonishing to see this piece by the Editorial Page Editor of the Washington Post, which appeared March 9, 2008:

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 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."
And so on, with respect to chemical weapons and delivery systems for WMDs: "Generally substantiated by intelligence information."  The editorial points out that the report even agreed that ties between Iraq and terrorist groups was substantially justified by the intelligence reports.

I've linked to a variety of reports, from both Congress and the British Parliament, that come to similar conclusions: a heck of a lot of the world's intelligence services (not just ours) believed that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons, had significant chemical WMD capabilities, and that there was serious risk that Iraq would use WMDs again--and there was no guarantee that they wouldn't be directed against us, perhaps through terrorist proxies. This article goes on to point out why the truth on this matters, not only because the core problem was not "Bush lied" but "tragically, catastrophically wrong" intelligence reports, but that it:
trivializes a double dilemma that President Bill Clinton faced before Bush and that President Obama or McCain may well face after: when to act on a threat in the inevitable absence of perfect intelligence and how to mobilize popular support for such action, if deemed essential for national security, in a democracy that will always, and rightly, be reluctant.

For the next president, it may be Iran's nuclear program, or al-Qaeda sanctuaries in Pakistan, or, more likely, some potential horror that today no one even imagines. When that time comes, there will be plenty of warnings to heed from the Iraq experience, without the need to fictionalize more.
There's plenty that Bush screwed up after we invaded Iraq. He won the war; he very nearly lost the occupation, and more importantly, the costs that we have paid there have very nearly sunk the War on Terror (and the Republican Party) as a legitimate cause. In retrospect, it might have been better to have waited for Iraq to have set off a nuclear weapon in Baltimore, or New York City, Miami, or London. At least the leftists making excuses for terrorism would have shut up long enough to win the war.