Following up on an earlier post
for a moment, it may seem odd that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is just now, in mid-2007, producing a report
on the White House ignoring warnings about Iraq in 2003. The war is already in its fifth year. Where has this information been? And wouldn't it have been a lot useful before, say, before the 2004 presidential election?
Let's take a stroll down memory lane. The Senate Intelligence Committee began a comprehensive investigation on the use (misuse) of pre-war intelligence towards the end of 2003. Initially, the committee was prepared to release one authoritative document on the intelligence, what it said, and how it was handled.
With the 2004 presidential election looming, and Bush's chances for a second term in doubt, then-Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) decided to split the report in two -- Phase I would document how wrong the intelligence community was (which was released quickly), while Phase II would report on how the White House used/misused/abused the available information.
And that's when the stonewalling began. First Roberts said publicly that he'd "try" to have Phase II available to the public before the 2004 election. He didn't. Roberts then gave his word, in writing
, that members of the Senate Intelligence Committee would have a draft report on controversial "public statements" from administration officials. That didn't happen either. Then Roberts indicated that he might just give up
on the second part of the investigation altogether, because, he argued, there was nothing left to learn.
Under pressure to release Phase II before the 2006 elections, Roberts agreed to release subparts
of the report, which documented what Ahmed Chalabi and other well-paid Iraqi exiles told the administration before the invasion, but nothing about the White House's mistakes.
In January 2007, after the Senate changed hands, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) agreed
that it was finally time to take this investigation seriously.
As for why Rockefeller and committee Dems decided to release the report on a Friday afternoon before Memorial Day weekend ... well, I can't figure that one out.