Bush Gave One-Sided Data on Iraq: New York Times

After a lengthy investigation, New York Times reporters have found that the Bush Administration provided dubious, one-sided data to support its conclusion that Saddam was rebuilding his weapons program, thereby sending us off to war in Iraq. For example,

Speaking to a group of Wyoming Republicans in September, Vice President Dick Cheney said the United States now had "irrefutable evidence" - thousands of tubes made of high-strength aluminum, tubes that the Bush administration said were destined for clandestine Iraqi uranium centrifuges, before some were seized at the behest of the United States.

The tubes were the only physical evidence the Bush team had to back up their claim:

Those tubes became a critical exhibit in the administration's brief against Iraq. As the only physical evidence the United States could brandish of Mr. Hussein's revived nuclear ambitions, they gave credibility to the apocalyptic imagery invoked by President Bush and his advisers. The tubes were "only really suited for nuclear weapons programs," Condoleezza Rice, the president's national security adviser, explained on CNN on Sept. 8, 2002. "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."

Yet Team Bush knew their portrayal was disputed by their own experts:

But almost a year before, Ms. Rice's staff had been told that the government's foremost nuclear experts seriously doubted that the tubes were for nuclear weapons, according to four officials at the Central Intelligence Agency and two senior administration officials, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity. The experts, at the Energy Department, believed the tubes were likely intended for small artillery rockets.

By presenting only the disupted and dubious scenario to the Amercian people, Team Bush garnered support for the pre-emptive strike against Iraq. This was more than an intelligence failure, the Times argues:

Senior administration officials repeatedly failed to fully disclose the contrary views of America's leading nuclear scientists, an examination by The New York Times has found. They sometimes overstated even the most dire intelligence assessments of the tubes, yet minimized or rejected the strong doubts of nuclear experts. They worried privately that the nuclear case was weak, but expressed sober certitude in public.

One result was a largely one-sided presentation to the public that did not convey the depth of evidence and argument against the administration's most tangible proof of a revived nuclear weapons program in Iraq.

Of course, no such WMD's have been found.

Today, 18 months after the invasion of Iraq, investigators there have found no evidence of hidden centrifuges or a revived nuclear weapons program. The absence of unconventional weapons in Iraq is now widely seen as evidence of a profound intelligence failure, of an intelligence community blinded by "group think," false assumptions and unreliable human sources.

The Times says the failure is even more critical:

Far from "group think," American nuclear and intelligence experts argued bitterly over the tubes. A "holy war" is how one Congressional investigator described it. But if the opinions of the nuclear experts were seemingly disregarded at every turn, an overwhelming momentum gathered behind the C.I.A. assessment. It was a momentum built on a pattern of haste, secrecy, ambiguity, bureaucratic maneuver and a persistent failure in the Bush administration and among both Republicans and Democrats in Congress to ask hard questions.

This is a 15 page web article. Reuters provides an abreviated analysis of it. The White House had no comment. The Democrats and John Kerry do.

...the campaign of Democratic presidential contender John Kerry jumped on the report, issuing an ad that said: "Here's something new about George Bush -- newspapers report he withheld key intelligence information from the American public so he could overstate the threat Iraq posed. Bush rushed to war. We're paying the price. It's time for a fresh start."

< The October Surprise: What Could It Be? | Report: Guantanamo Hasn't Prevented Any Terror Acts >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft