The alleged failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has given critics of the Administration hope that their attacks on the President will finally gain traction. The chorus of criticism is now swelling.
Just as, prior to the start of the Iraq war, there was no shortage of retired generals willing to criticize the Administration’s strategy, retired intelligence officials are now coming out of the woodwork to critique alleged intelligence failures. Reuters headlines: “U.S. Insiders Say Iraq Intel Deliberately Skewed”. Reuters’ story begins: “A growing number of U.S. national security professionals are accusing the Bush administration of slanting the facts and hijacking the $30 billion intelligence apparatus to justify its rush to war in Iraq.”
Congresswoman Jane Harman, ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, has called for an investigation, saying that “President Bush’s contention that America went to war with Iraq to rid Saddam Hussein of hidden biological and chemical weapons ‘could be the greatest intelligence hoax of all time.’”
Amid the controversy, a new team of more than 1,300 experts is being sent to Iraq to step up the hunt for banned weapons.
President Bush took the right approach yesterday, rejecting the assertion that the U.S. has failed to find evidence of weapons of mass destruction:
“You remember when Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he said Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons. They’re illegal. They’re against the United Nations resolutions, and we’ve so far discovered two. And we’ll find more weapons as time goes on. But for those who say we haven’t found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they’re wrong. We found them.”
We don’t know what other evidence of Iraq’s programs has been accumulated not only through searches of suspected sites, but more important, through interviews of Iraqis familiar with the weapons programs. It is certainly possible that the Administration has more evidence that, for the time being, it is keeping to itself. The Democratic Presidential candidates may fear that this is the case, as so far they have mostly avoided joining in the chorus of criticism. But this issue has the potential to badly undermine the President and his effort to combat terrorism if more evidence of Saddam’s banned programs fails to materialize.
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