Thursday :: May 29, 2003

Wolfie Basically Admits It Was All a Lie, and Then Blames it on the Intel Community

by Steve

The firestorm over Wolfowitz’s claim that the WMD rationale for invasion was nothing more than a “bureaucratic” one continues. But it seems to be driving very harsh media coverage overseas.

The Bush administration focused on alleged weapons of mass destruction as the primary justification for toppling Saddam Hussein by force because it was politically convenient, a top-level official at the Pentagon has acknowledged. The extraordinary admission comes in an interview with Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Defence Secretary, in the July issue of the magazine Vanity Fair. Mr. Wolfowitz also discloses that there was one justification that was "almost unnoticed but huge". That was the prospect of the United States being able to withdraw all of its forces from Saudi Arabia once the threat of Saddam had been removed. Since the taking of Baghdad, Washington has said that it is taking its troops out of the kingdom. "Just lifting that burden from the Saudis is itself going to the door" towards making progress elsewhere in achieving Middle East peace, Mr Wolfowitz said.

The presence of the US military in Saudi Arabia has been one of the main grievances of al-Qa'ida and other terrorist groups. (So we did it to please Osama?)

"For bureaucratic reasons we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on," Mr Wolfowitz tells the magazine. (So they couldn’t agree on the “liberate the Iraqi People” line of horseshit either?)

The comments suggest that, even for the US administration, the logic that was presented for going to war may have been an empty shell. They come to light, moreover, just two days after Mr Wolfowitz's immediate boss, Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, conceded for the first time that the arms might never be found. The failure to find a single example of the weapons that London and Washington said were inside Iraq only makes the embarrassment more acute. Voices are increasingly being raised in the US and Britain demanding an explanation for why nothing has been found.

Most striking is the fact that these latest remarks come from Mr Wolfowitz, recognised widely as the leader of the hawks' camp in Washington most responsible for urging President George Bush to use military might in Iraq. The magazine article reveals that Mr Wolfowitz was even pushing Mr Bush to attack Iraq immediately after the 11 September attacks in the US, instead of invading Afghanistan. There have long been suspicions that Mr Wolfowitz has essentially been running a shadow administration out of his Pentagon office, ensuring that the right-wing views of himself and his followers find their way into the practice of American foreign policy. He is best known as the author of the policy of first-strike pre-emption in world affairs that was adopted by Mr Bush shortly after the al-Qa'ida attacks.

And if you want a pathetic example of Wolfowitz shifting blame for the deceptions on WMDs, check out the transcript from an interview with Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post.

DeYoung: As Kevin probably told you, I was initially calling to find out about this quote that's in the Vanity Fair article. I don't know if you've seen it or not. And Kevin gave me this sort of additional context to it, but I did want to ask... This quote where it says "for bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue - weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on." And I sort of have just kind of taken that apart to ask you what you meant by "bureaucratic reasons."

Wolfowitz: The truth is, we've always had all three of those reasons, and in fact, if you look at Powell's presentation, there have always been all three. There has been a tendency to emphasize the weapons of mass destruction issue. But, as I said in the fuller quote, the real thing that has concerned the President from the beginning and which I think is even the "axis" that's referred to in the "axis of evil" is the connection between terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. So in a way, that's always been the main thing. But if you look at where the intelligence community tends to go, the issue about weapons of mass destruction has never been in controversy. Whereas there's been a lot of arguing back and forth about how much Iraq is involved in terrorism. At the end of the day, it's actually the connection between the two that was seen as completely different in the light of September 11th.

DeYoung: So, when you say...

Wolfowitz: By the way, I've never - you know, apropos of the WMD thing--I can't recall (m)any intelligence assessments that have been as unanimous as the judgment about Iraqi chemical and biological weapons. And even the terrorism one at the end of the day, Tenet spoke to it in that letter he sent to the SASC last fall and obviously Powell spoke to it quite clearly in his talk at the UN, but there have been times when we seem like we're ... or people say, I don't think it's fair actually, but people say that we shouldn't focus so much on WMD. I really do think we've always had all three reasons, together.

DeYoung: So when you say "it's the thing people could agree on", you're referring back to this sort of arguing about the terrorism thing, that that was always kind of a...

Wolfowitz: Well, there've been disputes within the intelligence community on the exact nature of that one (links to terrorism). There's been very little dispute about the WMD, except for some of the borderline issues.

And for a wonderful example of a reporter who aims to please, check out her behavior as the interview wrapped up.

Kellems (the press liaison): We're going to need to wrap it up.

DeYoung: Okay, let me just... But do you think that you might have oversold the whole WMD thing last fall? With the sort of, not only do they have production facilities, they actually have weapons that are ready to be used?

Wolfowitz: I don't think so. I mean, I think we were working from, as I told you, one of the most widely shared intelligence assessments I know of.

DeYoung: And even if we end up not finding...?

Wolfowitz: We're a long way from...

Kellems: We can't go there. Karen, come on! [Laughter] That was a trick question.

DeYoung: Oh, it was? I'm sorry. I didn't mean it to be.

Kellems: I was just kidding.

DeYoung: No, I didn't.

Christ!. We now know why the Bush Administration has nothing to fear from the Washington Post or Karen DeYoung. Why didn’t she just ask Wolfie if she could take his coffee cup for him as well? Did she wear kneepads to the interview?

Steve :: 11:05 PM :: Comments (8) :: Digg It!