"Fixed around" is not the same thing as "fixed". In other words, the Bush administration was going through the intelligence data as you might a buffet table. A little bit of nuclear proliferation, a dab of WMD, perhaps a dollop of ties to al Quaida. Now, there were dissenting opinions as to these intelligence data (a casserole of total disarmament, a salad of no terror ties, etc) - but intelligence is a messy game. There are rarely hard and fast absolutes - and so it is fairly normal (as I understand it) to go with what is more likely.If they'd gone with what was most likely, that's one thing. If they went instead with what most supported their already-made decision, that's something else. Cherry picking the truth to support a position isn't much better than just fabricating it.
In this case, we knew that he possessed WMDs at one point (since we sold them), and pretty much every country spent the 1990's telling each other how bad Saddam was, and how much evil he was wanting to do. So, Occam's Razor (and human nature) would indicate that intelligence which indicated this is more probable than intelligence which indicated otherwise.I'll concede that they really did think that Saddam had the dreaded WMDs. You could even say they had good reason to think that (though I don't think they did). It's beside my point.
See here. In October 2002, the National Intelligence Estimate (by the CIA and others) said that Iraq had nothing to do with al-Qaida, hadn't sponsored past terrorist attacks on America, and probably wouldn't in the future.
Two weeks later, Bush is telling us this:
This is a man that we know has had connections with al Qaeda. This is a man who, in my judgment, would like to use al Qaeda as a forward army.As I pasted that, I just noticed the "in my judgment" in there. In light of the report, it looks as though he's saying, "my advisors say one thing, but in my judgment something else is true."
I digress. That lie was beside my point too.
Anyway, while it might seem a tad suprising that the decision was in place, it shouldn't be. It was almost a given that the UN wouldn't do anything more forceful than pass another resolution - which Saddam was likely to ignore as well.It would have been a lot less surprising also if the President hadn't told us exactly the opposite over and over. If he thinks we're going to war, but he's going to try some other stuff first, there's nothing wrong with that. What bothers me is that he'll think that but say to us instead, "You said we're headed to war in Iraq—I don't know why you say that. I hope we're not headed to war in Iraq. I'm the person who gets to decide, not you. I hope this can be done peacefully."
Reading over all those "not going to war" quotes again, it looks more and more like President Bush had decided "try some stuff first, but then go to war" and just didn't want to get caught saying it. There's a lot of "hope we don't" and "our actions are really up to them" and "gosh, we don't want to" without ever addressing what he actually thought would happen. That seems misleading to me.