Friday, July 18, 2003

Prove it, Pretzel Boy!

I'm starting to get tired of hearing that the WMD flap and Bush's 16 weasel words were the result of some kind of intelligence failure.

It's obvious that the failure was by White House political operatives wno politicized what intelligence we had, not the intelligence agencies. (The agencies aren't perfect, but at least they haven't bungled and blundered on the breathtaking scale that the White House has.)

Take two of the carefully crafted talking points on the 16 weasel words.

First, we were just quoting the Brits. Fine, but you can't say you "learned" what you don't really know.

Second, we had other reasons besides the Niger yellowcake forgeries: among them, National Intelligence Estimates, "the gold standard."

Fine, except like so much else in this administration, what was once a gold standard has been looted and trashed.

Knut Royce of Newsdaywrites:

During the Clinton administration, the CIA's annual reports to Congress on the global proliferation of weapons of mass destruction routinely cast Iraq as a problematic footnote -- a country worth keeping an eye on but not an alarming threat.

But the tone of the reports changed dramatically after George W. Bush became president, with increasingly longer narratives suggesting that Iraq was hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons.

In 1997, the first year of the congressionally mandated reports, the CIA devoted only three paragraphs to Iraq, noting that Baghdad possessed dual-use equipment that could be used for biological or chemical programs. There was no mention of a nuclear weapons program.

By last year, the latest reporting period, the section on Iraq ran seven times longer, warning that "all intelligence experts agree that Iraq is seeking nuclear weapons" and that the country could produce a bomb "within a year" if it got its hands on weapons-grade material.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Congress last week that no significant new evidence about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction had been uncovered during the current administration. Intelligence sources agreed.

So, no new intelligence, but a lot more hype. And whose task was it to make sure the NIEs were hyped? Why, none other than Dick Cheney (copy).

Bush is doubly "responsible" for the 16 weasel words. First, for having his operatives corrupt our intelligence so he could have his war. The weasel words are a direct result of that corruption. The intelligence people kept taking them out; the White House kept putting them in. Second, for every word and every line* of this speech and every other speech he gives..

UPDATE: *"Every line and every word," and the telling photo (see above, French Cuffs and all) are now making it into the mainstream information flow, via WaPo's Al Kamen. Kamen also mentions Bush's "revisionist" or "delusional" history on weapons inspection. So many lies, so many shadings of truth and untruth, who can keep track? (thanks to alert reader Terry)

UPDATE: OK, OK, "Freedom Cuffs." But—free associating from the penchant that Republican Mitch McConnell's daughter has for leather—has anyone noticed that "Freedom Cuff" is an oxymoron? Like "Bush administration"?