The Spectacle Blog

Graham Destroys Dems

By on 11.20.05 | 8:01AM

Former Democratic Senator Bob Graham was chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on 9-11 and in the months leading up to the Iraq invasion of 2003. He has managed to single-handedly destroyed the "Bush lied" about Iraq pre-war intelligence in his op-ed in today's WaPo.

Here's the money quote:

"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 the 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.

"Under questioning, Tenet added that the information in the NIE had not been independently verified by an operative responsible to the United States. In fact, no such person was inside Iraq. Most of the alleged intelligence came from Iraqi exiles or third countries, all of which had an interest in the United States' removing Hussein, by force if necessary."

Graham -- and the other SSCI Dems -- knew everything the president knew. They not only knew, but they had the authority to compel disclosures about points on Iraq they doubted, and did so. But when presented with the information, they either didn't try to convince their Senate colleagues that the war wasn't justified by the intelligence or failed to. Either way, Graham's admissions about the details of what he and other Dems knew utterly destroys the "Bush lied" argument. The SSCI knew what he knew, and the fact that the CIA relied on uncorroborated sources is as much a problem for the Dems as for the President. A whole bunch more on this in tomorrow's Loose Canons. (By the time LC gets out of its cage, the Dems will be trying desperately to deny the truth -- and the implications -- of Graham's admissions.)

 

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