Last Thursday, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, chaired by Jay Rockefeller IV, released its "Final Phase II Reports on Prewar Iraq Intelligence." The more controversial document addresses Whether Public Statement Regarding Iraq By U.S. Government Officials Were Substantiated By Intelligence Information. The Committee's press release claims to have substantiated assertions that "Bush lied"--or at least distorted intel to secure approval for the invasion.
The mainstream media and lefty bloggers largely accepted the Dem talking points uncritically as Cheat Seeking Missiles shows. It's the latest mis-read analysis hailed as definitive. Several of the latter argue impeachment's "back on the table."
Few noted the White House's denial or Ranking Minority member Senator Kit Bond's calling the report "political theater" and dissenting views detailing how the Democrats excluded relevant contemporaneous intel and wastes pages on irrelevant informal meetings about Iran. Almost no leftes remembered prior inconsistent findings of similar investigations.
Yet, at least one liberal went beyond parroting the press release and thus "tells it straight." According to WaPo columnist Fred Hiatt, the report doesn't say what the Committee, or the left, says it says:
[D]ive into Rockefeller's report, in search of where exactly President Bush lied about what his intelligence agencies were telling him about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, and you may be surprised by what you find.Ok, but who concurred at the time with evidence of Saddam's terrorist contacts? As the Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes observes, the list starts with Senator Rockefeller himself (he voted for the Iraq force resolution, remember), and--as Flopping Aces details--included nearly every senior Democrat. And, as reported in the NY Sun, it was based on a State Department analysis (see page 67) shared with the UN and the Senate. Further, there's the captured pre-war Iraqi documents confirming terrorist links.
On Iraq's nuclear weapons program? The president's statements "were generally substantiated by intelligence community estimates."
On biological weapons, production capability and those infamous mobile laboratories? The president's statements "were substantiated by intelligence information."
On chemical weapons, then? "Substantiated by intelligence information."
On weapons of mass destruction overall (a separate section of the intelligence committee report)? "Generally substantiated by intelligence information." Delivery vehicles such as ballistic missiles? "Generally substantiated by available intelligence." Unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to deliver WMDs? "Generally substantiated by intelligence information."
As you read through the report, you begin to think maybe you've mistakenly picked up the minority dissent. But, no, this is the Rockefeller indictment. So, you think, the smoking gun must appear in the section on Bush's claims about Saddam Hussein's alleged ties to terrorism.
But statements regarding Iraq's support for terrorist groups other than al-Qaeda "were substantiated by intelligence information." Statements that Iraq provided safe haven for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and other terrorists with ties to al-Qaeda "were substantiated by the intelligence assessments," and statements regarding Iraq's contacts with al-Qaeda "were substantiated by intelligence information." The report is left to complain about "implications" and statements that "left the impression" that those contacts led to substantive Iraqi cooperation.
Progressives promptly denounced Hiatt, calling him an "apologist" and his article "Grade A BS." Not only are such claims unsupported, they're so. . .well. . . 2003. Since the surge Iraqis are better off than before, a fact that many lefties seem incapable of acknowledging. So I agree with Scott:
it simply doesn’t matter as much today how the US came to invade Iraq. What matters is how the US leaves.Conclusion: I don't deny our intelligence bureaucracy is broken. But, as Wolf Howling notes, Congressional Democrats prefer destructive fiction to constructive fixes. The Rockefeller report isn't proof of fraud; it's evidence the left doesn't understand foreign intelligence:
Intel is never black and white; never 100 percent. There's always doubts and contradictions. Intel officers have to exercise their best judgment without unanimity, and once they've done so form a syllogism from the data. That's not manipulation.Fred Hiatt got it right. But "Bush lied" makes a better bumper-sticker.
Elizabeth Scalia asks "How can significant issues be tackled when a culture of cynicism and relativism has destroyed appreciation for the truth?"