The “Bush Lied” Meme By Betsy Newmark

Fred Hiatt does a good job, in one column, of destroying the Democrats’ partisan effort to produce a phony Intelligence Committee report demonstrating that Bush and Cheney lied in order to get us into Iraq.

But dive into Rockefeller’s report, in search of where exactly President Bush lied about what his intelligence agencies were telling him about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, and you may be surprised by what you find.

Hiatt then goes on to use the report’s own words to demonstrate that Bush’s claims at the time were “substantiated by intelligence information.”

And of course, Jay Rockefeller, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee report, was one of the most vociferous in his claims in 2002 about the danger that Saddam Hussein posed.

After all, it was not Bush, but Rockefeller, who said in October 2002: “There has been some debate over how ‘imminent’ a threat Iraq poses. I do believe Iraq poses an imminent threat. I also believe after September 11, that question is increasingly outdated. . . . To insist on further evidence could put some of our fellow Americans at risk. Can we afford to take that chance? I do not think we can.”

Unsurprisingly, the Democrats didn’t include such statements and the many others like it that Democrats had made in 2002 after looking at the same reports that Bush was looking at. Stephen Hayes, who has been a tiger on researching the connections between Al Qaeda-backed terrorists and the Hussein government reminds us that Jay Rockefeller was quite convinced of those connections before we went into Iraq.

It’s also worth pointing out that the Jay Rockefeller who today accuses the Bush administration of inventing the threat posed by Iraq-al Qaeda collaboration once saw “a substantial connection” between the two and warned about the consequences of leaving Iraq to pass its WMD to Osama bin Laden. On February 5, 2003, Rockefeller said: “The fact that Zarqawi certainly is related to the death of the U.S. aid officer and that he is very close to bin Laden puts at rest, in fairly dramatic terms, that there is at least a substantial connection between Saddam and al Qaeda.”

The New York Sun highlights some more evidence that the majority wanted to keep out of its report such at the State Department’s assessment of the presence of Al Qaeda’s presence in Iraq and its operations that went on with the “knowledge and acquiescence of Saddam’s regime.”

As Hiatt points out, the crucial lesson we have learned is that our intelligence was quite fallible. Presidents have to make decisions based on such faulty intelligence. Decision-making would be a lot easier if we had absolute certainty to go on, but we don’t.

But the phony “Bush lied” story line distracts from the biggest prewar failure: the fact that so much of the intelligence upon which Bush and Rockefeller and everyone else relied turned out to be tragically, catastrophically wrong.

And it trivializes a double dilemma that President Bill Clinton faced before Bush and that President Obama or McCain may well face after: when to act on a threat in the inevitable absence of perfect intelligence and how to mobilize popular support for such action, if deemed essential for national security, in a democracy that will always, and rightly, be reluctant.

For the next president, it may be Iran’s nuclear program, or al-Qaeda sanctuaries in Pakistan, or, more likely, some potential horror that today no one even imagines. When that time comes, there will be plenty of warnings to heed from the Iraq experience, without the need to fictionalize more.

This is the real concern that we should have going forward – how to make dangerous decisions based on uncertain information, not trying to once again put forth partisan attacks based on filtered information to show try to prove that Bush lied and people died.

The Anchoress has more.

This content was used with the persmission of Betsy’s Page.

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