Feature

Iraq

Did Bush cook the intelligence?

'œSometimes political stunts work,' said Thomas Oliphant in The Boston Globe. Take Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid's display of parliamentary jujitsu last week. By invoking an obscure, 210-year-old Senate rule, Reid forced the chamber into closed session for hours, while he demanded that Republicans explain what happened to a politically dangerous investigation they supposedly were conducting. The Senate Intelligence Committee, led by GOP stalwart Pat Roberts, has been stalling its inquiry into whether the Bush administration hyped the intelligence regarding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, thereby tricking us into war. Thanks to Reid's attention-grabbing tactic, the embarrassed committee is now holding hearings, and will produce an interim report within days.

What's the point? asked The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. Three major investigations—including one by the Intelligence Committee itself—have produced 'œmountains' of evidence that exonerates the White House. The reports conclude that the U.S. intelligence community erred badly about Saddam Hussein's WMD potential. But the inquiries also found that the administration didn't exaggerate its findings, or pressure intelligence analysts to do so. Nor was the Bush administration alone in getting fooled, said Jonah Goldberg in National Review Online. In the 1990s, Bill Clinton and Al Gore repeatedly warned that Saddam was working to secure means of mass death. In the run-up to war, 'œFrance, Israel, China, Russia, Britain, and the United Nations' all said the same. That's why most Democrats noisily supported the invasion of Iraq. Now, though, those same 'œcraven' partisans 'œcannot accept their own responsibility in what they clearly consider to be a mistake.' They'd rather slander Bush, score some cheap political points—and, not incidentally, undermine the war at a crucial moment in history.

Jonathan Chait

Los Angeles Times

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