National Journal: “The Mission Was to Insulate the President”

At the National Journal, Murray Waas rakes muck on how White House aides in 2003 plotted to hide the fact Bush knew of disputes over pre-war intelligence. In particular, they were worried voters would learn Bush knew the intelligence on the aluminum tubes was questionable when he used it as evidence of Iraq’s WMD program:

. . . Bush had been directly and repeatedly apprised of the deep rift within the intelligence community over whether Iraq wanted the high-strength aluminum tubes for a nuclear weapons program or for conventional weapons. . .

“Presidential knowledge was the ball game,” says a former senior government official outside the White House who was personally familiar with the damage-control effort. “The mission was to insulate the president. It was about making it appear that he wasn’t in the know. You could do that on Niger. You couldn’t do that with the tubes.” A Republican political appointee involved in the process, who thought the Bush administration had a constitutional obligation to be more open with Congress, said: “This was about getting past the election.”