rumsfeld admits iraq evidence hype
This is simply astonishing...Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld yesterday told a Senate committee that the Bush Administration had no new evidence of Saddam's weapons programs, but simply dusted off five-year-old intelligence from before Operation Desert Fox and passed it off as representative of Iraq's current capability.
On Capitol Hill today, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld sought to diminish the importance of the debate over the intelligence on Iraq's weapons programs. "The coalition did not act in Iraq because we had discovered dramatic new evidence of Iraq's pursuit" of weapons of mass destruction, he told the Senate Armed Services Committee. "We acted because we saw the evidence in a dramatic new light -- through the prism of our experience on 9-11."
Rumsfeld was repeatedly questioned about the administration's handling of the uranium-purchase claim, saying at one point that "I can't give you a good answer" as to why he was not told about intelligence analysts' doubts about the report.
"This is a significant piece of intelligence; it was relied on at the highest level, very publicly, very visibly, by the president and by you within two days of each other, right before the war; a very significant statement about seeking uranium in Africa," Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said. "At the same time, the intelligence community knew . . . in the depths of their agency that this was not true, it seems to me is absolutely startling."
In an extremely telling indication of our CEO president's managerial incompetence, Bush's spokesman said he doesn't plan to hold anyone accountable for the "error."
Bush's aides said today that the president was not angry to learn that the allegation about Iraq's efforts to buy uranium in Niger turned out to be false. They said he has accepted their account of how the line had come to be included in his State of the Union speech, and plans no recriminations.
"He understands intelligence and that as new information becomes available, we're going to continually update," Dan Bartlett, the White House communications director, said. "He wanted an explanation and we told him how the process works and he accepted it.
And why not? After all, bogus or not, the quote helped Bush get his coveted war on.
Meanwhile, even as the Repsonsibility President dodges questions about his evidence for war, Bush asserted that he had "no doubt" about his decision to launch an unprecedented, unprovoked war (quotes from the WaPo story cited previously):
The president avoided directly answering questions about whether he regretted the inclusion of the claim and whether he still believed the charge -- that Iraq had sought a form of uranium from Niger -- to be true despite the acknowledgement from White House aides this week that the allegation was wrong and should not have been in the speech.
Bush dismissed the matter as "attempts to rewrite history." [Ed: That line must have played well with the focus groups, but it's a contemptable and brazen lie.]
"There is no doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein was a threat to the world peace," Bush said at a news conference with South African President Thabo Mbeki on the second day of his five-day African tour. "And there's no doubt in my mind that the United States, along with allies and friends, did the right thing in removing him from power. And there's no doubt in my mind, when it's all said and done, the facts will show the world the truth."
There is no doubt in my mind that Bush had determined to oustr Saddam long ago, and simply sought whatever justifications he felt would sell the war. It isn't a question as to whether Bush had a "doubt in his mind;" it's a question of whether the Chief Executive took the nation to war on the basis of sound evidence or wishful thinking coupled with a strong desire to do so. There's no doubt in my mind that the latter was the case. But with Bush last point, at least, I agree.
Update: Amy Sullivan at Political Aims analyzes Bush's comments and finds -- quelle suprise! -- a pattern of deception.