Why oh why can't we have a better press corps? Fred Hiatt tells a lot of lies himself as he cherrypicks the Rockefeller report. Duncan Black notes:: "the headline given... is 'Blaming Bush for Iraq Is Too Easy.' And that's true! I also blame Fred Hiatt!"
Fred Hiatt would prefer it if we didn't say that Bush and Cheney lied. He says that there is "no question" that Bush and Cheney "spoke with too much certainty" at times--but, he says, that's not lying:
'Bush Lied'? If Only It Were That Simple: Search the Internet for "Bush Lied" products, and you will find sites that offer more than a thousand designs. The basic "Bush Lied, People Died" bumper sticker is only the beginning.
Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, set out to provide the official foundation for what has become not only a thriving business but, more important, an article of faith.... [H]e claimed to have accomplished his mission, though he did not use the L-word. "In making the case for war, the administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when it was unsubstantiated, contradicted or even nonexistent," he said.
There's no question that the administration, and particularly Vice President Cheney, spoke with too much certainty at times and failed to anticipate or prepare the American people for the enormous undertaking in Iraq. But dive into Rockefeller's report... and you may be surprised by what you find.
On Iraq's nuclear weapons program?... "generally substantiated by intelligence community estimates." On biological weapons, production capability and those infamous mobile laboratories?... "substantiated by intelligence information." On chemical weapons, then? "Substantiated by intelligence information." On weapons of mass destruction.... "Generally substantiated by intelligence information." Delivery vehicles such as ballistic missiles? "Generally substantiated by available intelligence." Unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to deliver WMDs? "Generally substantiated by intelligence information."...
[S]tatements regarding Iraq's support for terrorist groups other than al-Qaeda "were substantiated by intelligence information." Statements that Iraq provided safe haven for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and other terrorists with ties to al-Qaeda "were substantiated by the intelligence assessments," and statements regarding Iraq's contacts with al-Qaeda "were substantiated by intelligence information." The report is left to complain about "implications" and statements that "left the impression" that those contacts led to substantive Iraqi cooperation....
[T]he 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... 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.
Here are six of Bush, Cheney, and now Hiatt's lies, via David Kurtz:
- Statements and implications by the President and Secretary of State suggesting that Iraq and al-Qa'ida had a partnership, or that Iraq had provided al-Qa'ida with weapons training, were not substantiated by the intelligence.
- Statements by the President and the Vice President indicating that Saddam Hussein was prepared to give weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups for attacks against the United States were contradicted by available intelligence information.
- Statements by President Bush and Vice President Cheney regarding the postwar situation in Iraq, in terms of the political, security, and economic, did not reflect the concerns and uncertainties expressed in the intelligence products.
- Statements by the President and Vice President prior to the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iraq's chemical weapons production capability and activities did not reflect the intelligence community's uncertainties....
- The Secretary of Defense's statement that the Iraqi government operated underground WMD facilities that were not vulnerable to conventional airstrikes... was not substantiated by available intelligence information.
- The Intelligence Community did not confirm that Muhammad Atta met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in 2001...
Four years, Washington Post. Four years.