July 12, 2004
SOME USEFUL PERSPECTIVE:
THE Senate Intelligence Committee report on the intelligence failures gov erning run-up to the Iraq war is a devastating document — for those who might have thought the sole reason to go to war in 2003 was Saddam Hussein's presumed stockpile of weapons of mass destruction.
The thing is, I don't know a single such person.
Those who supported the war, in overwhelming numbers, believed there were multiple justifications for it.
Those who opposed and oppose it, in equally overwhelming numbers, weren't swayed by the WMD arguments. Indeed, many of them had no difficulty opposing the war while believing that Saddam possessed vast quantities of such weapons.
Take Sen. Edward Kennedy. "We have known for many years," he said in September 2002, "that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction." And yet only a few weeks later he was one of 23 senators who voted against authorizing the Iraq war.
Take French President Jacques Chirac, who believed Saddam had WMDs and still did everything in his power to block the war.
So whether policymakers supported or opposed the war effort was not determined by their conviction about the presence of weapons of mass destruction.
This doesn't get George Tenet and the CIA off the hook for a bad call, but it does answer claims that "bad intelligence took us to war," when in fact the dispute has always been over goals and priorities more than intelligence.