Friday, November 11, 2005
MEME PATROL In Saturday's Washington Post, Walter Pincus and Dana Milbank puncture two memes now being pushed hard by the White House:
President Bush and his national security adviser have answered critics of the Iraq war in recent days with a two-pronged argument: that Congress saw the same intelligence the administration did before the war, and that independent commissions have determined that the administration did not misrepresent the intelligence.Atrios, as usual, is pithier:
Neither assertion is wholly accurate.
The administration's overarching point is true: Intelligence agencies overwhelmingly believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and very few members of Congress from either party were skeptical about this belief before the war began in 2003. Indeed, top lawmakers in both parties were emphatic and certain in their public statements.
But Bush and his aides had access to much more voluminous intelligence information than did lawmakers, who were dependent on the administration to provide the material. And the commissions cited by officials, though concluding that the administration did not pressure intelligence analysts to change their conclusions, were not authorized to determine whether the administration exaggerated or distorted those conclusions.
In addition, there were doubts within the intelligence community not included in the NIE [National Intelligence Estimate]. And even the doubts expressed in the NIE could not be used publicly by members of Congress because the classified information had not been cleared for release. For example, the NIE view that Hussein would not use weapons of mass destruction against the United States or turn them over to terrorists unless backed into a corner was cleared for public use only a day before the Senate vote.
Hadley argues that Democrats had the same intelligence because "parts of" the NIE "had been made public."
Right, and the parts of the NIE which weren't made public were the parts which suggested that the parts which were made public were full of shit.