Monday, December 05, 2005

COUNTERPUNCH: What did the Democrats Know before Iraq War?

Like most people, I was glad that John Edwards admitted he was wrong to vote for the Iraq War resolution, but the excuse that he gives, that the Senate was not shown the same information as the president, while true, is dishonest.

The former chair of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, Bob Graham asked the obvious question of the CIA before the war:

If Saddam had nukes (or other WMD) would he have the will to use them against us?

CIA director George Tenet answered honestly:

He said


Saddam would only use them if attacked. Like every other country that has nukes.

Graham insisted that a version of Tenet's letter scrubbed of classified information be made available to the public and it was in the New York Times in October 2002, five months before the war. You can see it here:

Democrats on intelligence like Edwards saw the classified version of this in committee.

But you didn't need to be an intelligence expert to know that. You merely needed to be old enough to remember the Cold War and the last fifty years of the nuclear era. We had rough nuclear parity with the Soviets, and that was enough to keep us from attacking each other. If a bit player like Saddam got his hands on a dozen or even a hundred nukes, he would know that if he launched one at us, he would be dead and Iraq incinerated off the map before he even knew if his nuke hit us.

Every congressman and senator knows this calculus. Retarded people don't get elected to Congress (and only once to the White House).

My point is not to exonerate the GOP, but to be careful which Democrats we pin our hopes on.

If someone is still lying to us about why they voted for war, they are likely to tell lies to continue it or to start the next one when the oil companies ask for it.

December 5, 2005
What Did the Democrats Know and When Did they Know It?

The Lies of John Edwards



Edwards declared in an op-ed column in the Washington Post on November 13, 2005: "The argument for going to war with Iraq was based on intelligence that we now know was inaccurate. The information the American people were hearing from the president -- and that I was being given by our intelligence community -- wasn't the whole story. Had I known this at the time, I never would have voted for this war." Sounds simple enough. "Had I known then what I know now, etc." Poor John Edwards was deceived. But was he? How was it that 21 other Democratic Senators and 2 Republicans were not deceived and voted against the war?

Part of the answer arrived in another op-ed the Washington Post one week later, November 20, 2005, by another former Senator, Bob Graham, entitled: "What I knew Before the Invasion." Like Edwards, Graham was a member, in fact the chair, of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee in the period leading up to the war and on October 11, 2002 when the vote on the war on Iraq was taken. In a nutshell, Graham tells us that everyone on that committee knew that Bush was lying about weapons of mass destruction. Graham begins like a good, loyal Democrat, telling us that his colleagues were deceived, at least "most" of them. But he then tells us that the Senate Select Intelligence Committee knew better. Here are some of Graham's words:

"At a meeting of the Senate intelligence committee on Sept. 5, 2002, CIA Director George Tenet was asked what the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) provided as the rationale for a preemptive war in Iraq. An NIE is the product of the entire intelligence community, and its most comprehensive assessment. I was stunned when Tenet said that no NIE had been requested by the White House and none had been prepared. Invoking our rarely used Senatorial authority, I directed completion of an NIE."

"Tenet objected, saying that his people were too committed to other assignments to analyze Saddam Hussein's capabilities and will to use chemical, biological and possibly nuclear weapons. We insisted, and three weeks later the community produced a classified NIE".

"There were troubling aspects to this 90-page document. While slanted toward the conclusion that Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction stored or produced at 550 sites, it contained vigorous dissents on key parts of the information, especially by the departments of State and Energy. Particular skepticism was raised about aluminum tubes that were offered as evidence Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program. As to Hussein's will to use whatever weapons he might have, the estimate indicated he would not do so unless he was first attacked."

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