Sometimes you don't know whether to laugh or cry.
Like when you heard President Bush tell ABC's Barbara Walters,
"I felt like we'd find weapons of mass destruction – like many here in the
United States, many around the world. The United Nations thought he had weapons
of mass destruction. So, therefore: one, we need to find out what went wrong
in the intelligence gathering…."
The White House had just admitted that the Iraq Survey Group had failed to
find any trace of (a) "weapons of mass destruction," (b) the makings
thereof, and/or (c) the facilities for producing them.
Charles Duelfer – the man "Slam-Dunk" Tenet put in charge of the
ISG a year ago to replace the thoroughly discouraged David Kay – had essentially
verified the dozens of "null" reports made to the Security Council
by UN inspectors up until the eve of the Bush-Blair "preemptive" invasion.
According to UN reports, all Saddam's WMD programs had been abandoned or destroyed
either just before, or in the immediate aftermath, of the Gulf War. Furthermore,
as of the eve of the Bush-Blair invasion, there were no indications that Saddam
had ever made any attempt to resurrect them.
But Duelfer went even further than the UN inspectors, concluding that – after
exhaustive interrogation of hundreds of former Iraqi officials and scientists,
and examination of millions of captured Iraqi documents – "the former regime
had no formal written strategy or plan for the revival of WMD" programs.
So, perhaps Bush did "feel" that we'd find WMD in Iraq back in 2002.
Perhaps he really did believe Tenet's "National Intelligence Estimate (NIE)
on Iraq's Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction." Even "felt"
that way as late as Tenet's defense of that NIE in August 2003.
"We stand behind the judgments of the NIE as well as our analyses on
Iraq's programs over the past decade. Those outside the process over the past
10 years and many of those commenting today do not know, or are misrepresenting,
the facts. We have a solid, well-analyzed and carefully written account in the
NIE and the numerous products before it.
"After David Kay and others finish their efforts – after we have exploited
all the documents, people, and sites in Iraq – we should and will stand back
to professionally review where we are – but not before.
"The history of our judgments on Iraq's weapons programs is clear and
consistent. On biological weapons and missiles our data got stronger in recent
years. We have had a solid historical foundation and new data that have allowed
us to make judgments and attribute high confidence in specific areas. And we
had numerous credible sources, including many who provided information after
"The National Intelligence Estimate remains the Intelligence Community's
most authoritative product. The process by which we produce NIEs – including
the one on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction – has been honed over nearly 30
years. It is a process that is designed to provide policymakers in both the
executive and the legislative branches with our best judgments on the most crucial
national security issues."
So now that Kay's successor – Duelfer – has "finished his efforts,"
coming up empty, it is understandable that Bush wants to "find out what
went wrong in our intelligence gathering."
But what you don't know whether to laugh or cry about is Bush's assertion that
other members of the UN Security Council also thought Saddam still had WMD.
Does Bush really believe that Russia, France, and China disbelieved
the International Atomic Energy Agency report of March 7, 2003
– which refuted every one of Bush's prewar assertions about Iraqi nukes?
"After three months of intrusive inspections, we have to date found
no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program
"There is no indication of resumed nuclear activities in those buildings
that were identified through the use of satellite imagery as being reconstructed
or newly erected since 1998, nor any indication of nuclear-related prohibited
activities at any inspected sites....
"There is no indication that Iraq has attempted to import uranium since
"There is no indication that Iraq has attempted to import aluminum
tubes for use in centrifuge enrichment....
"[T]here is no indication to date that Iraq imported magnets for use
in a centrifuge enrichment program."
When Walters asked President Bush if the war – which was essentially based
upon false intelligence – was "worth it" – Bush responded, "Oh, absolutely.
Saddam was dangerous, and the world is safer without him in power."