I’m sorry there’ve been so comparatively few posts in the last couple days. I’ve been spending close to all of my time in the heavily-caffeinated world of TPMCafe, hollering at the foremen, poring over the diagrams and blueprints, hammering nails into the beams and what-have-you. In any case, we’re about to launch and we’ll have an announcement on that the beginning of this week.
Just this morning I saw this typically-splendid article by the Post’s Walter Pincus about yet more evidence of how many questions the intelligence community had about pretty much all the evidence of Iraqi WMD during the lead-up to the war. Pincus also makes mention of the secret British memo, which came to light in the final days of the recent British election, which suggested that almost a year before the start of the war the US was shaping the available intelligence to make the case for war.
I’ve gotten a stack of emails from readers asking me why I haven’t mentioned this or made a bigger deal out of it. Some of this is due to the distractions I mentioned above. But when I asked myself the question what I came up with was a sense of something akin to futility. I mean, how much more evidence do we need exactly to confirm the completely undeniable fact that the administration bent every rule and was reflexively dishonest in almost every way about the claims of Iraqi WMD?
Admittedly, the fact that something is obvious — or that I perceive it as such — is not usually a standard I apply before I start hammering on an issue. But it made me think back to an experience I had while working on the Niger uranium story last year, and one I wanted to share with you.
Much of the work I did on the Niger story, both before and after the report was released, gravitated around the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Committee report on Iraqi WMD. And we were working committee sources on both sides of the aisle before and after it was released.
It certainly comes as no surprise to me that such a report would be incomplete and in some ways misleading. Certain highly sensitive subjects might be passed over for legitimate national security reasons and even authors who, as a general matter, wanted to keep the public informed, might shade the truth in some particulars.
But when I read the report’s treatment of the topics that I’d gotten to know about in some detail I was genuinely surprised at how much it was not only misleading but how much almost the entire presentation of the facts was quite consciously engineered to give the reader precisely the opposite impression of what actually happened.
The level of mendacity was even more surprising because the report was signed off on by both the committee Republicans and the committee Democrats. And, no, I’m not saying that Democrats are intrinsically any less capable of bamboozlement than Republicans. But in this case they very much did have antagonistc political interests. And it wasn’t clear to me why those political interests if nothing else would not have made them less willing to go along with such a whitewash of what happened.
I guess it was probably the same reason the Dems let themselves get scammed by Sen. Roberts with the long-awaited second-half of the committee’s investigation (the one set to look at how the administration politicized and manipulated the intelligence), which he blew off once the election was safely over.