Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Bush decided, then lied about it.

The Downing Street memo reveals a few things. The part everyone is focusing on is this:
Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.
Some have said that this can't mean what it looks like. Was intelligence altered to fit a conclusion already reached? They point out that the Senate Intelligence Committee report says "The Committee did not find any evidence that Administration officials attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to change their judgments related to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities." On the other hand, this says:
Republicans noted in the report's conclusion that no intelligence analysts had said they were pressured. But Democrats objected, saying there was ample evidence that top Bush administration officials had intimidated analysts to twist their judgments about whether Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.

In the end, the committee decided to put off consideration of the Bush administration's use of intelligence, all but guaranteeing the issue a prominent role in the campaign.
So it looks to me like an open question.

To be honest, I don't think that the administration necessarily tried to fabricate intelligence. I think, rather, they wanted a particular conclusion and weren't afraid to say so. I could hear someone saying, "There must be a connection between Iraq and terrorists. Can't someone find the evidence for me?" They wouldn't have to say "please go make something up" for some underling to get that message.

Then there's this: Actual British People Not Confused About What "Fixed" Means. I think that pretty well decides it, but I'm sure there will still be disagreement.

There's another problem here, however, and it seems to be ignored a lot by Bush's defenders. The memo says that a war with Iraq was a foregone conclusion. They'd already decided that's what would happen. Regardless of that, President Bush kept telling Americans that he hadn't made up his mind. That's the real lie revealed by the Downing Street memo, but all I hear the right talk about is the case for weapons of mass destruction. When did President Bush decide to attack Iraq, and why?
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