The NYTimes makes the case, a solid display of evidence, that much of the rationale for the Iraq invasion was bullshit. Of course, most have known that for some time, but it provides some satisfaction (of a very sad, non self-congratulatory type) to see it so well laid out here.
In any other time, in any other administration, Cheney, Rice, and others would be mired in scandal, and likely fired or forced to resign. Yet they are still today valued memberrs of the inner circle, the Court of St. George, with full privileges and authority.
In 2002, at a crucial juncture on the path to war, senior members of the Bush administration gave a series of speeches and interviews in which they asserted that Saddam Hussein was rebuilding his nuclear weapons program.
In a speech to veterans that August, Vice President Dick Cheney said Mr. Hussein could have an atomic bomb "fairly soon." The next month, Mr. Cheney told a group of Wyoming Republicans the United States 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 quickly 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, asserted on CNN on Sept. 8, 2002."We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."
Before Ms. Rice made those remarks, though, she was aware that the government's foremost nuclear experts had concluded that the tubes were most likely not for nuclear weapons at all, an examination by The New York Times has found. Months before, her staff had been told that these experts, at the Energy Department, believed the tubes were probably intended for small artillery rockets.
But Ms. Rice, and other senior administration officials, embraced a disputed theory about the tubes first championed in April 2001 by a new analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency. Senior scientists considered the theory implausible, yet in the months after 9/11, as an administration built a case for confronting Iraq, the theory gained currency as it rose to the top of the government.
"She was aware of the differences of opinion," the senior administration official said of Ms. Rice in an interview authorized by the White House. "She was also aware that at the highest level of the intelligence community, there was great confidence that these tubes were for centrifuges."
Ms. Rice's alarming description on CNN was in keeping with the administration's overall treatment of the tubes. Senior administration officials repeatedly failed to fully disclose the contrary views of America's leading nuclear scientists, The Times found. They sometimes overstated even the most dire intelligence assessments of the tubes, yet minimized or rejected the strong doubts of their own experts. They worried privately that the nuclear case was weak, but expressed sober certitude in public.
The 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.
Read the whole article. It's long, thorough, and a complete indictment of the GWBush regime.
Just another Dubya disaster. (apologies to Rory Markus)