FRED HIATT: “Bush Lied? If Only It Were That Simple.”

But dive into Rockefeller’s report, in search of where exactly President Bush lied about what his intelligence agencies were telling him about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, and you may be surprised by what you find.

On Iraq’s nuclear weapons program? The president’s statements “were generally substantiated by intelligence community estimates.”

On biological weapons, production capability and those infamous mobile laboratories? The president’s statements “were substantiated by intelligence information.”

On chemical weapons, then? “Substantiated by intelligence information.”

On weapons of mass destruction overall (a separate section of the intelligence committee report)? “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.”

As you read through the report, you begin to think maybe you’ve mistakenly picked up the minority dissent. But, no, this is the Rockefeller indictment. So, you think, the smoking gun must appear in the section on Bush’s claims about Saddam Hussein’s alleged ties to terrorism.

But statements regarding Iraq’s support for terrorist groups other than al-Qaeda “were substantiated by intelligence information.”

Democrats like the “Bush lied” meme because it gets Democrats who voted for the war off the hook with their antiwar constituencies. The problem is that it’s more politically convenient than, you know, true. It’s rather convenient for the intelligence services, too . . . .

(Via The Anchoress.) More thoughts here: “What does all this prove? That once again Congressional Democrats are playing politics with the Iraq war in an effort to gain more traction in an election year – probably in an attempt to help out their anti-war nominee, even when they know that the prior administration made almost identical claims about the threat from Iraq, and even though they have to know that their own report repeatedly points out that Bush’s claims were ‘generally substantiated by available intelligence.'”

Then there’s this: The US knew that Al-Qaeda and Al-Zarqawi had a “good relationship” with Saddam Hussein officials before the war. Hmm.