WaPo Picks up Blair Memo Story

I mentioned previously how FAIR had noted the relatively low-key response of the Washington Post’s ombudsman to reader complaints that the paper was failing to report on the Blair memo story. No explanation for the failure was given in the ombudsman’s statement, which merely noted that the complaints had been made.

Well, it looks like the complaints had an effect, because today the WaPo published an article by Walter Pincus that covers the issue in more detail than I’d previously seen from any mainstream US media outlet: British intelligence warned of Iraq war.

Among the interesting analysis in the article is the following, which I commend to Craig’s attention:

Although critics of the Iraq war have accused Bush and his top aides of misusing what has since been shown as limited intelligence in the prewar period, Bush’s critics have been unsuccessful in getting an investigation of that matter.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has dropped its previous plan to review how U.S. policymakers used Iraq intelligence, and the president’s commission on intelligence did not look into the subject because it was not authorized to do so by its charter, Laurence H. Silberman, the co-chairman, told reporters last month.

Anyway, it’s nice to see the pressure building. With any luck one of the White House press pool will be brave enough to bring up the Conyers letter with Scott McClellan one of these days, or even (be still my beating heart), Bush might even get asked about it at a photo op or press conference.

5 Responses to “WaPo Picks up Blair Memo Story”

  1. Craig Says:

    Select Committee on Intelligence Report:

    Conclusion 1: Most key judgements made in the October 2002 Intelligence Report on Iraq’s WMD capability either overstated or were not supported by the underlying intelligence reporting, due to analytic failure.

    Conclusion 2: The intelligence community did not adequately or accurately explain to policymakers the uncertainties behind their judgements in their report.

    Conclusion 3: The intelligence community suffered from “group think” regarding Iraq’s WMD capability, which led to poor interpretations of information.

    These conclusions are paraphrased by me, but they go on in this vein in great detail. Go read it for yourself.(http://intelligence.senate.gov/)

  2. jbc Says:

    I’ve read it. The version of the report you link to is the carefully truncated version of the report that Pat Roberts and the rest of the Republicans on the panel were able to get the full investigation narrowed down to.

    See this URL for a more-complete version: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/serialset/creports/iraq.html . I particularly recommend the appendix that includes the views of the vice-chairman and ranking Democrat on the committee, John D. Rockefeller. That portion says the following, among other things:

    [begin quoting]

    Phase one of the Committee’s report on U.S. pre-war intelligence on Iraq details how the Central IntelligenceAgency (CIA) and the Intelligence Community as a whole ofien failed to produce accurate intelligence analysis on alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and links to terrorist organizations.

    Regrettably, the report paints an incomplete picture of what occurred during this period of time. The Committee set out to examine ten areas of investigation relating to pre-war intelligence on Iraq and we completed only five in this report. The scope of our investigation was divided in a way so as to prevent a complete examination of all the matters within the Committee’s jurisdiction at one time.

    The central issue of how intelligence on Iraq was used or misused by Administration officials in public statements and reports was relegated to the second phase of the Committee’s investigation, along with other issues related to the intelligence activities of Pentagon policy officials, pre-war intelligence assessments about post-war Iraq, and the role played by the Iraqi National Congress, led by Ahmad Chalabi, which claims to have passed “raw intelligence” and defector infomation directly to the Pentagon and the Office of the Vice President.

    As a result, the Committee’s phase one report fails to fully explain the environment of intense pressure in which Intelligence Community officials were asked to render judgments on matters relating to Iraq when policy officials had already forcefully stated their own conclusions in public.

    [end quoting]

    There’s lots more, with tons of detail on just how the administration intentionally skewed the intelligence-gathering and -analysis process in order to build support for the war. In fact, when you consider the whole of what the committee investigated and discovered, rather than just considering the carefully censored version that Roberts managed to get issued as the “unanimous” findings of the committee, the evidence actually says exactly the opposite of what you say it does. It doesn’t exonerate the Bush team of slanting the intelligence. It convicts them.

    I give you the benefit of the doubt in this case. I don’t think you intentionally misused the product of what the committee did to make a false case on behalf of Bush. I think you just fell into the trap that the Republican leadership of that committee intended you to fall into. But it’s a good lesson in how you have to be careful, especially when dealing with things like reports produced by Senate committees and so-called “independent commissions.” These bodies do not act only to find things out and make them public. Sometimes they act to bury embarrassing truths and keep them concealed.

    A book I highly recommend, if you haven’t read it yet, is “What do you care what other people think?” by the late Richard Feynman. It includes a fascinating account of his work on the independent commission that investigated the Challenger disaster. Really eye-opening stuff.

  3. Craig Says:

    This has all been debated by far sharper minds then any of us, and in no case am I aware of any conclusions drawn by the committee or any other official that the evidence “convicts” the Bush Administration of deliberately slanting the intelligence reports. But time and time again, the intelligence community gets slammed for producing deeply flawed analysis and conclusions that decisions were greatly based upon. To make assured statements that this report proves Bush’s guilt in purposefully subverting or misusing intel reports and analysis is a conclusion that not even the Democratic members were proclaiming.

    People will read into all of this what they want to see. It’s no different than any other debate that has raged on this website. As I mentioned earlier, people are set in their thinking on these points, and these discussions sadly don’t ever seem to advance any thinking in one camp of opinion or the other.

  4. ethan-p Says:

    To make assured statements that this report proves Bush’s guilt in purposefully subverting or misusing intel reports and analysis is a conclusion that not even the Democratic members were proclaiming.

    Does the lack of a Democratic party accusation suggest that the Bush administration didn’t doctor the evidence (or even ask the intelligence community to slant the evidence in order to gain support), or does it show that the Democrats are totally dickless?

    Personally, I vote for the latter. (It’s difficult to argue that they’ve been anything less than dickless after losing their majority in 2000). Shit, if the Republicans were willing to impeach Clinton over lying to Congress over getting his penis sucked on, Congress should grill the shit out of the Bush administration for all of the lingering questions that we have, including the prospect of intentionally presenting possible misinformation to Congress in order to go to war. IMO, there are far too many outstanding questions with all arrows pointing to the executive branch, and far too few questions geing answered by the Bush camp. These things just seem to go away without any definitive answers. This whole thing is disguistingly political, and a great argument for a third party, regardless of their platform.

    I know that it’s cliche, but seriously — lying about intelligence to make a case for war (and starting a war based upon this bullshit evidence) just goes far beyond a lie about extra-marital fellatio. I mean, put the two misdeeds into a ring and the war-misinformation would brutally slap the shit out of the dick-sucky lie six days from sunday before dismembering it, burning it, and pissing on its ashes. Maybe our own morals should be on trial here…but in the meantime, I feel that our government is somehow afraid of holding our executive branch accountable for their actions.

    Before I get off of my soapbox, I just want to wave my arms some more and point to those lame-ass computer generated pictures of the mobile WMD labratories that Colin Powell presented to the UN. I hope that one doesn’t blow over too quickly. I mean, my bullshit detector was working overtime on that one…did anyone else think that those (poorly rendered) images were utter crap, and simply not evidence of a damn thing? Even if the net result of the invasion of Iraq is positive, we must look like a total bunch of assholes to the outside world.

  5. Rise Against Says:

    For the record, you do. :-)

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