< meta name="DC.Date.Valid.End" content="20050825"> Amendment Nine: That Wretchard

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

That Wretchard

Last Thursday Wretchard, at the Belmont Club, wrote a fairly interesting post on the intelligence for Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). He focuses on the question of pre-OIF "versions" of the intelligence...
The entire assertion that 'Bush lied, people died' doesn't work if there was a single pre-war consensus Iraq intelligence estimate which unhappily turned out to be wrong, in whole or in part. It only works if there were two versions, one of which was fed to the public and to government officials like John Murtha, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry (which 'misled' them into voting for OIF) and another which was kept secret within the inner circles of the Bush administration, which showed OIF to be unjustified.
One sees where he's going. Just in case it isn't clear...
It's fairly clear there was only one version of the general assessment of Saddam Hussein before OIF -- that he was a threat. There were, however, two variants respecting the degree and imminence of the danger that he represented.
One version, with two variants... fair and balanced. I wonder though if today's revelation would change Wretchard's mind?
Ten days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush was told in a highly classified briefing that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the attacks and that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda, according to government records and current and former officials with firsthand knowledge of the matter.
It should change his mind right? An official version of the threat, materially different from the one given to Congress, makes that whole hard-left slogan work now? According to Wretchard at least.

More importantly though, in terms of animating the political will, or if one prefers in perhaps more Lacanian usage, preparing the public for full satisfaction, nothing worked like the implication that Saddam Hussein was involved with aQ and somehow was involved in 9/11. I realize someone of Wretchard's intellect would find such stretching incredulous. However, we aren't talking about intellect, we're talking about satisfaction... a national orgasm of retribution. You can't have that, and the delightfully sheepish morals which accompany it, without the proper psychological preparation. Waas continues in his article:
But a comparison of public statements by the president, the vice president, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld show that in the days just before a congressional vote authorizing war, they professed to have been given information from U.S. intelligence assessments showing evidence of an Iraq-Al Qaeda link.

"You can't distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror," President Bush said on September 25, 2002.

The next day, Rumsfeld said, "We have what we consider to be credible evidence that Al Qaeda leaders have sought contacts with Iraq who could help them acquire … weapons-of-mass-destruction capabilities."

Another interesting aspect to this story, beyond the siren's seduction, is this interesting aspect about the PDB in question.

The highly classified CIA assessment was distributed to President Bush, Vice President Cheney, the president's national security adviser and deputy national security adviser, the secretaries and undersecretaries of State and Defense, and various other senior Bush administration policy makers, according to government records.
And the Administration is refusing to let the Senate Intel Committee see that document, typical. But study the distribution list for the 9/21/2001 PDB. One of those officers is not like the others. One of those officers just doesn't belong. Can you tell me which officer is not like the others... Right, Cheney is an officer of the US Senate. So there really is no privilege here (can you have a privilege which prevents you from revealing information to yourself?). I wonder if there are any enterprising Senator staffers who would like to remind the VP of this fact.