The Senate Intelligence Committee, headed by Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), issued a report late last week saying that the Bush administration deliberately disregarded conflicting intelligence and misled Americans on the severity of the Iraqi threat to justify invading Iraq. Missouri Senator Kit Bond, the committee’s ranking Republican on the committee, wrote a minority opinion accusing Democrats of trying to politicize bad intelligence on the part of the C.I.A. (Time.com)
What the commentators said
“The latest, scouring look at the Bush administration's incessant, irresponsible exaggeration of intelligence leading up to the Iraq war confirms the worst reports,” said The Seattle Times in an editorial. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report provides the greatest detail to date of the “astonishing hubris” the White House exhibited in trumping up the case against Saddam Hussein, “not only misrepresenting intelligence that linked Saddam Hussein to al-Qaida, but leaving untold the uncertainty and dissension within the intelligence ranks over the evidence.”
Give the “phony ‘Bush lied’ story line” a rest, said Fred Hiatt in The Washington Post. It “distracts from the biggest prewar failure”—the fact that so much of U.S. intelligence was “tragically, catastrophically wrong.” 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 the report and you’ll see that President Bush’s statements were substantiateed by U.S. intelligence at every turn.
How convenient that the committee “focused exclusively on prewar statements by Bush administration officials,” said Thomas Joscelyn in The Weekly Standard online, and ignored “similar statements by leading Democrats.” Clearly, the committee merely wanted to make political hay by portraying Bush in “the worst possible light.” Otherwise, its members might have chosen to trumpet their finding that “the Bush administration was right to claim that Saddam's regime was harboring al Qaeda members.”
This is still a valuable report, said the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in an editorial. “It highlights the disconnect between the Bush administration and intelligence officials. And as a possible attack on Iran weaves in and out of headlines, it's good to be reminded of the White House's willingness to intentionally distort information to manufacture consent for invading Iraq.”