Tuesday, July 15, 2003

The more I read the more I am convinced that we are starting to see the end of the Bush admin before November, 2004:
How did we get into this mess? The case of the bogus uranium purchases wasn't an isolated instance. It was part of a broad pattern of politicized, corrupted intelligence.

Literally before the dust had settled, Bush administration officials began trying to use 9/11 to justify an attack on Iraq. Gen. Wesley Clark says that he received calls on Sept. 11 from "people around the White House" urging him to link that assault to Saddam Hussein. His account seems to back up a CBS.com report last September, headlined "Plans for Iraq Attack Began on 9/11," which quoted notes taken by aides to Donald Rumsfeld on the day of the attack: "Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not."

But an honest intelligence assessment would have raised questions about why we were going after a country that hadn't attacked us. It would also have suggested the strong possibility that an invasion of Iraq would hurt, not help, U.S. security.


The story of how the threat from Iraq's alleged W.M.D.'s was hyped is now, finally, coming out. But let's not forget the persistent claim that Saddam was allied with Al Qaeda, which allowed the hawks to pretend that the Iraq war had something to do with fighting terrorism.

As Greg Thielmann, a former State Department intelligence official, said last week, U.S. intelligence analysts have consistently agreed that Saddam did not have a "meaningful connection" to Al Qaeda. Yet administration officials continually asserted such a connection, even as they suppressed evidence showing real links between Al Qaeda and Saudi Arabia.

And during the run-up to war, George Tenet, the C.I.A. director, was willing to provide cover for his bosses — just as he did last weekend. In an October 2002 letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee, he made what looked like an assertion that there really were meaningful connections between Saddam and Osama. Read closely, the letter is evasive, but it served the administration's purpose.


It gets worse. Knight Ridder newspapers report that a "small circle of senior civilians in the Defense Department" were sure that their favorite, Ahmad Chalabi, could easily be installed in power. They were able to prevent skeptics from getting a hearing — and they had no backup plan when efforts to anoint Mr. Chalabi, a millionaire businessman, degenerated into farce.

So who will be held accountable? Mr. Tenet betrayed his office by tailoring statements to reflect the interests of his political masters, rather than the assessments of his staff — but that's not why he may soon be fired. Yesterday USA Today reported that "some in the Bush administration are arguing privately for a C.I.A. director who will be unquestioningly loyal to the White House as committees demand documents and call witnesses."