FINALLY!!! The NYT grows a big pair
- From: "Joe S." <anon@xxxxxxxx>
- Date: Tue, 15 Nov 2005 15:15:14 -0500
At last -- the serious media is growing balls enough to take on the New
NYT editorial calls Bush a liar.
Decoding Mr. Bush's Denials
Published: November 15, 2005
To avoid having to account for his administration's misleading statements
before the war with Iraq, President Bush has tried denial, saying he did not
skew the intelligence. He's tried to share the blame, claiming that Congress
had the same intelligence he had, as well as President Bill Clinton. He's
tried to pass the buck and blame the C.I.A. Lately, he's gone on the attack,
accusing Democrats in Congress of aiding the terrorists.
Yesterday in Alaska, Mr. Bush trotted out the same tedious deflection on
Iraq that he usually attempts when his back is against the wall: he claims
that questioning his actions three years ago is a betrayal of the troops in
It all amounts to one energetic effort at avoidance. But like the W.M.D.
reports that started the whole thing, the only problem is that none of it
has been true.
Mr. Bush says everyone had the same intelligence he had - Mr. Clinton and
his advisers, foreign governments, and members of Congress - and that all of
them reached the same conclusions. The only part that is true is that Mr.
Bush was working off the same intelligence Mr. Clinton had. But that is
scary, not reassuring. The reports about Saddam Hussein's weapons were old,
some more than 10 years old. Nothing was fresher than about five years,
except reports that later proved to be fanciful.
Foreign intelligence services did not have full access to American
intelligence. But some had dissenting opinions that were ignored or not
shown to top American officials. Congress had nothing close to the
president's access to intelligence. The National Intelligence Estimate
presented to Congress a few days before the vote on war was sanitized to
remove dissent and make conjecture seem like fact.
It's hard to imagine what Mr. Bush means when he says everyone reached the
same conclusion. There was indeed a widespread belief that Iraq had chemical
and biological weapons. But Mr. Clinton looked at the data and concluded
that inspections and pressure were working - a view we now know was
accurate. France, Russia and Germany said war was not justified. Even
Britain admitted later that there had been no new evidence about Iraq, just
The administration had little company in saying that Iraq was actively
trying to build a nuclear weapon. The evidence for this claim was a dubious
report about an attempt in 1999 to buy uranium from Niger, later shown to be
false, and the infamous aluminum tubes story. That was dismissed at the time
by analysts with real expertise.
The Bush administration was also alone in making the absurd claim that Iraq
was in league with Al Qaeda and somehow connected to the 9/11 terrorist
attacks. That was based on two false tales. One was the supposed trip to
Prague by Mohamed Atta, a report that was disputed before the war and came
from an unreliable drunk. The other was that Iraq trained Qaeda members in
the use of chemical and biological weapons. Before the war, the Defense
Intelligence Agency concluded that this was a deliberate fabrication by an
Mr. Bush has said in recent days that the first phase of the Senate
Intelligence Committee's investigation on Iraq found no evidence of
political pressure to change the intelligence. That is true only in the very
narrow way the Republicans on the committee insisted on defining pressure:
as direct pressure from senior officials to change intelligence. Instead,
the Bush administration made what it wanted to hear crystal clear and kept
sending reports back to be redone until it got those answers.
Richard Kerr, a former deputy director of central intelligence, said in 2003
that there was "significant pressure on the intelligence community to find
evidence that supported a connection" between Iraq and Al Qaeda. The C.I.A.
ombudsman told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the administration's
"hammering" on Iraq intelligence was harder than he had seen in his 32 years
at the agency.
Mr. Bush and other administration officials say they faithfully reported
what they had read. But Vice President Dick Cheney presented the Prague
meeting as a fact when even the most supportive analysts considered it
highly dubious. The administration has still not acknowledged that tales of
Iraq coaching Al Qaeda on chemical warfare were considered false, even at
the time they were circulated.
Mr. Cheney was not alone. Remember Condoleezza Rice's infamous "mushroom
cloud" comment? And Secretary of State Colin Powell in January 2003, when
the rich and powerful met in Davos, Switzerland, and he said, "Why is Iraq
still trying to procure uranium and the special equipment needed to
transform it into material for nuclear weapons?" Mr. Powell ought to have
known the report on "special equipment"' - the aluminum tubes - was false.
And the uranium story was four years old.
The president and his top advisers may very well have sincerely believed
that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. But they did not allow the
American people, or even Congress, to have the information necessary to make
reasoned judgments of their own. It's obvious that the Bush administration
misled Americans about Mr. Hussein's weapons and his terrorist connections.
We need to know how that happened and why.
Mr. Bush said last Friday that he welcomed debate, even in a time of war,
but that "it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war
began." We agree, but it is Mr. Bush and his team who are rewriting history.