Washington Post Uses Downing Street Memo To Undercut Bush Claims That He Was Victim Of Bad WMD Intelligence
Finally, despite the best efforts of the White House to bury it, the memo surfaces.
We all know that the Bush Administration has done whatever it could to distract the media from covering the Downing Street Memo, yet in the Sunday Washington Post, the CIAís best friend at the paper Walter Pincus writes a piece that brings forward the memo high up in the story. Pincus uses the memo as a gateway into a story which blows away a central defense used by Bush and his supporters. Repeatedly, Bush and the right wing media have defended the invasion and the WMD rationale for the war by saying that Bush wasnít lying about WMDs, he was simply the victim of bad intelligence and everyone else thought Saddam had WMDs anyway.
Yet Pincus not only mentions the Downing Street Memo, he goes a step further by validating the memo's conclusion that the intelligence was being "fixed" around a policy. How? Pincus points out numerous examples where the intelligence community expressed misgivings about the claims from the White House all along and gave the president plenty of indications that he should reconsider any rush to war. Pincusís piece seems to be the latest shot from the Agency against the Bush apologists, in that the story makes the case that any claim that Bush was the victim of bad intelligence and didnít receive any contrary warnings is garbage.
It has been clear since the September report of the Iraq Survey Group -- a CIA-sponsored weapons search in Iraq -- that the United States would not find the weapons of mass destruction cited by Bush as the rationale for going to war against Iraq. But as the Walpole episode suggests, it appears that even before the war many senior intelligence officials in the government had doubts about the case being trumpeted in public by the president and his senior advisers.
The question of prewar intelligence has been thrust back into the public eye with the disclosure of a secret British memo showing that, eight months before the March 2003 start of the war, a senior British intelligence official reported to Prime Minister Tony Blair that U.S. intelligence was being shaped to support a policy of invading Iraq.
Moreover, a close reading of the recent 600-page report by the president's commission on intelligence, and the previous report by the Senate panel, shows that as war approached, many U.S. intelligence analysts were internally questioning almost every major piece of prewar intelligence about Hussein's alleged weapons programs.
These included claims that Iraq was trying to obtain uranium in Africa for its nuclear program, had mobile labs for producing biological weapons, ran an active chemical weapons program and possessed unmanned aircraft that could deliver weapons of mass destruction. All these claims were made by Bush or then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell in public addresses even though, the reports made clear, they had yet to be verified by U.S. intelligence agencies.
By late January 2003, the number of U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf area was approaching 150,000, and the invasion of Iraq was all but guaranteed. Neither Bush nor Powell reflected in their speeches the many doubts that had surfaced at that time about Iraq's weapons programs.
Despite the spin from Bush apologists that everyone thought Saddam had WMDs, and that if Bush was wrong, everyone was wrong, the truth is that the IAEA thought from Day One that the White House claims were unsupported by the facts on the ground. Now, at a curious time, it seems that the Agency is using the discovery of the Downing Street Memo to push forward the idea that the intelligence community was far from certain that Saddam had WMDs and had told Bush and Cheney of these contrary views in the months leading up to the war, yet Bush went to war based on WMDs anyway. This story by Pincus seems to substantiate the claims of the Downing Street Memo that the intelligence was indeed fixed around the policy, regardless of the uncertainty within the community that Saddam had in fact a WMD program.
Doesn't this look like the spooks on both sides of the pond are pushing back against the best efforts of both leaders to pin the blame on them for the lack of WMDs?