Monday :: Jun 2, 2003

US Senate Will Now Investigate WMD Claims by Administration


by Steve

At the same time that Tony Blair is facing strong challenges from both his own Labor MPs and the Tories over his credibility on the WMD claims from him and Bush leading up to the war, US senators themselves today seemed to agree on a bipartisan committee to look into the claims made on this side of the pond.

Many of us are rightfully jaded about stories like this, because we assume that the Bushies will find a way to corral the inquiry and use a compliant media to bury the truth. But there are cross-currents with this story and the 9/11 Commission story I talked about late last week that argue such control by Rove may not be possible. First, Blair is losing support on the issue, with even his own MPs now turning against him. Plus, according to new poll in England, the number of those who think Saddam had WMDs has dropped now to 51%, from a 71% figure previously. And the “45-minute” issue, and the claims behind it that Saddam had the means to use chemical weapons against his neighbors or hostile forces within 45 minutes of a possible attack, which were cited by both Bush and Blair as evidence of the imminent threat that Saddam posed, is about to be blown sky high in England, with some even suggesting the ultimate penalty for Blair if it is shown he doctored intelligence to get Parliament’s support. Once this happens, there will be a spillover onto the Bush Administration’s efforts to defend their justification over here.

Second, if the Senate actually does an investigation, it will happen while or after the imminent threat issue is blowing up in England. Whatever information comes to light across the pond will be used over here. And it is clear that George Tenet will not take a fall for Rummy, Wolfie, or their politically-contrived intelligence at these hearings, as evidenced by the “cover his ass, nail Rummy’s ass” review the CIA is now doing on this issue.

In addition, Colin Powell may not sit still for the company line either, as it now appears that even he had doubts about the intelligence he was asked to tout at the now infamous UN presentation where much of the evidence cited was subsequently discredited. He apparently shared those doubts with Jack Straw, the British Foreign Secretary, although both sides deny the meeting took place on the day mentioned, despite transcripts being available of the meeting in question. Regardless, NATO capitals are using the document to test the credibility now of both Britain and America.

Voters will see these inquiries and the problems that Blair will face this fall. What it will come out before the election is which agency’s intelligence was used by the Bush Administration and who signed off on using it. This may not matter to voters this summer, but a steady stream of stories and problems for Tony Blair on these issues this summer will eventually lead to questions this fall on the part of some voters over here as to why the Bush Administration isn’t held to the same level of credibility as our number one ally. And once the media sees how the inquiries go, and senses blood in the water and sees the CIA and State pointing the finger elsewhere, then all bets are off.

Steve :: 12:19 AM :: Comments (24) :: Digg It!