But the only committee investigating the matter in Congress, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has not yet done its inquiry into whether officials mischaracterized intelligence by omitting caveats and dissenting opinions. And Judge Laurence H. Silberman, chairman of Bush’s commission on weapons of mass destruction, said in releasing his report on March 31, 2005: “Our executive order did not direct us to deal with the use of intelligence by policymakers, and all of us were agreed that that was not part of our inquiry.”
Bush, in Pennsylvania yesterday, was more precise, but he still implied that it had been proved that the administration did not manipulate intelligence, saying that those who suggest the administration “manipulated the intelligence” are “fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community’s judgments.”
In the same speech, Bush asserted that “more than 100 Democrats in the House and the Senate, who had access to the same intelligence, voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power.” Giving a preview of Bush’s speech, Hadley had said that “we all looked at the same intelligence.”
But Bush does not share his most sensitive intelligence, such as the President’s Daily Brief, with lawmakers. Also, the National Intelligence Estimate summarizing the intelligence community’s views about the threat from Iraq was given to Congress just days before the vote to authorize the use of force in that country.
In addition, there were doubts within the intelligence community not included in the NIE. 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. ~The Washington Post
In my remarks yesterday on Mr. Bush’s Veterans’ Day speech, I did not address the most brazen revisionist claims that he had made regarding the unanimity of pre-war intelligence assessments and their supposed “consensus” about Iraqi WMDs. The suppression of the NIE view that Iraq would not use its (imaginary) WMDs or give them to terrorists unless threatened with the very regime change Mr. Bush was threatening is clear manipulation of intelligence in the public debate. Any member of Congress who voted for war with that knowledge is, of course, as guilty as Mr. Bush, but their shared guilt does make Mr. Bush somehow less culpable for pushing his fraudulent case for invasion.
The claim that Iraq would ever use such weapons against America, had it possessed them, was always the most incredible and absurd idea, and the NIE, slip-shod and politically dictated as it seems it must have been, shows that even our own intelligence agencies understood this much. Without the likely threat of use or transfer to terrorists (the latter being highly implausible in itself), Iraqi possession of these weapons always should have been a matter of supreme indifference to the United States. Obviously, even if there had been a serious intent to attack the United States, which seems ridiculous on its face, the deterrent of our overwhelming conventional and nuclear arsenals would have made it all moot.
Political theorists take note: Mr. Bush’s invocation of Congress’ involvement in his scheme is a perfect example how an autocrat uses consultation and “consent” as a shield to evade responsibility and abuse his power by making the legislative body an accomplice to his crimes. If the legislators are foolish or cowardly enough to acquiesce in this, the autocrat will be successful in escaping the retribution that he is due.