Wednesday :: Jan 28, 2004

As Bush Tries To Walk Away From WMD Rationale, Watch The Spooks


by Steve

We awake this morning to the sorry and disgusting spectacle of our president trying to now walk away from his rationale for invading Iraq, in light of the knee-capping comments from former Iraq Survey Group leader David Kay. Not only is the president trying to walk away from the reasons he used to lead the country into war, but Vice President Cheney is doing the same on his “It’s Suddenly Safe For Some Reason For Me to Leave the Undisclosed Secure Location and Make Nice With You Damn Europeans” Tour.

Kay seems to be giving interviews right and left, and the more he talks, the more it calls into question the whole intelligence community and the Bush handling of that intelligence. The Administration’s response has been to move quickly from Cheney’s still-insistent defense of his wacko prewar chicken-little claims, to now saying “we don’t know what we’ll find,” defense, similar to what Colin Powell said over the weekend. This escalated yesterday into Bush first saying deflectively that he still had confidence in the intelligence community (as if that was the issue here) to, when pressed by reporters, adopting the same “we don’t know what we’ll find but Saddam was a very bad man” defense. Kay himself, as Fred Kaplan of Slate opined isn’t exactly clean himself, but his credibility is at least as good as any of the other hacks that Bush has trotted out to make his case for him.

As the New York Times reports this morning, if Bush keeps pushing this off directly or indirectly onto the intelligence community as the primary culprit here, he risks another string of retaliatory moves from the spooks during the heat of the election cycle.

Two administration officials reported that a debate has erupted within the administration over whether Mr. Bush should soon call for some kind of reform of the intelligence-gathering process. But the officials said Mr. Bush's aides were searching for a formula that would allow them to acknowledge intelligence-gathering problems without blaming the Central Intelligence Agency or the director of central intelligence, George J. Tenet, who approved that National Intelligence Estimate.

"We spent the summer with the White House and the agency spitting at each other," said one official, recalling the arguments over who was to blame for Mr. Bush's inaccurate accusation in the State of the Union address last year that Saddam Hussein had tried to buy nuclear material in Africa. "We can't afford another of those."

Kay himself will now be called to testify in Congress this morning about his findings, which may put him directly at odds with those who just months ago touted his ability to do a better job than Hans Blix. The problem that Bush will face in today’s news cycle, as the Post reports in its Page One today, is that Kay will testify that he found evidence that Saddam dismantled much of his program in the mid 1990’s, as others had already revealed to the intelligence agencies earlier. Which means that as Bush made his case for war, the intelligence that the CIA and others already had which was intentionally ignored by Cheney and the others in their cherry-picking turned out to be correct all along. And as Walter Pincus, the CIA’s man at the Post is saying now, Kay’s blanket assertions that all of the intelligence community, but not the White House, is to blame is angering the spooks. As a result, you know what to expect next: the blowback and selective leaks from the spooks to offset whatever Kay and the White House try and dump on them.

This will get dicey for Bush, and in a typical Rovian/Cheney fashion, the White House is already trying to discredit their own handpicked man.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Tuesday that it's premature to speculate about "why we were wrong," and rejected Kay's statement that the work in Iraq is 85 percent done.

"Even if we are 85 percent done, what could you have in that 15 percent of information?" the U.S. official said. "The amount of chemical and biological agent that would be required is extremely small in terms of physical footprint. It could be easily hidden."

Yeah, and the moon could be made of cheese. Enough already with the “I’m sure I’ll find that pony in thar yonder pile of manure” routine. These attempts by Rice or Cheney as the “U. S. official,” will get more laughable as we go along, especially as the media takes a more and more skeptical view of administration spin jobs, a skepticism which is already evident in the stories out this morning. Note that in both of these stories and in others today, the reporters are contrasting the administration’s statements now against what they actually said to justify the war. In other words, a Truth Squad mentality has kicked in. Why? Outside of a latent pride in their work, could it be that the media feels the courage to do so because the Democrats have finally found their spine on this matter and are saying the truth: Bush and his administration have lied repeatedly to the world on this matter. As Editor and Publisher reports today, many major newspapers, even those who supported the war, are calling into question the Bush Administration’s credibility now.

Note also that the White House is left with lamely resorting to the "we never said 'imminent' threat" defense, even though Bush did infer such calamity, as well as repeatedly say that the Brits believed Saddam had a 45-minute WMD delivery capability. Sounds like an imminent threat argument to me. By the way, you can email both Pincus (pincusw@washpost.com) or Mike Allen (allenm@washpost.com) to urge them to not let the White House get away with this tactic again.

And the consequences of these lies, contrary to what the White House wants you to forget, are heading south again. Six more American troops have been killed in Iraq over the last two days, after the five that were killed over the weekend. And there are reports of more suicide bombings this morning, as well as fresh talk of rebellion.

No matter how he tries to spin it or blame the CIA for his own lies and manipulations in the coming months, as the deaths continue and the finger-pointing goes on, I think the spooks will get another shot at this administration. But this time it will be in the heat of an election battle with energized candidates taking aim at the White House lies, and with a media that resumes its sharkpack mentality.

Bring it on.

Steve :: 7:01 AM :: Comments (11) :: Digg It!