We posted yesterday on the declassification of the CIA’s October 2002 assessment of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction capability. We won’t repeat the extensive quotes from the CIA’s report, but suffice it to say that the report, representing a consensus of all of the intelligence agencies, clearly indicated that Iraq was trying to reconstitute its nuclear program and, if it were able to obtain fissionable material, could develop a nuclear bomb in a year or less.
The CIA’s report should have put to rest the claim that the Administration somehow twisted the data provided by the intelligence agencies to make a case for war against Saddam Hussein. Put aside for a moment whether the intelligence was correct or not. The information in the CIA report is what was given to the Administration, and it was correctly characterized by President Bush and other Administration officials in their public communications. And it was acted upon by President Bush when he decided to liberate Iraq.
The Associated Press was once viewed as a reasonably neutral news agency. It is now an agent of the Democratic Party, and its reporters are among the most influential, and the most biased, in American journalism. Its dispatches appear in hundreds of American newspapers. They are therefore worth scrutinizing carefully. Naturally, as soon as the Administration declassified the CIA report on Iraq’s weapons programs, the Associated Press set out to neutralize the impact of the report.
This article is typical: “Iraq Evidence Was Thin, Nuke Experts Say”. In this article, by John J. Lumpkin and Dafna Linzer, the AP asserted that the evidence in the CIA report did not support the claim that Iraq was pursuing nuclear weapons. The AP cited exactly two “experts” for the proposition that the CIA’s evidence was “thin”: Greg Thielmann and Andrew Wilkie.
You are probably aware of Mr. Thielmann. A former Democratic Party activist and State Department official, he has become a principal spokesman for the anti-Bush forces in the press and the Democratic Party. Since he retired from the State Department, he has spent essentially all of his time giving interviews in which he denounces the President and the Iraq war. He has been quoted in virtually every newspaper, and certainly every news magazine, in America. Yet his reliability is never questioned; he is always cited as a neutral, senior statesman who is entitled to pass judgment on the President, the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense.
For a typical sample of Thielmann’s point of view, here is his interview with left-winger Bill Moyers on PBS last month. Note in particular this statement, in which Thielmann purports to speak for the intelligence community: “The intelligence community as a whole in our considered wording and advice did not give the President the impression that there was an imminent threat….Our judgment was that Iraq had not reconstituted its nuclear weapons program in the sense that that’s generally understood.” So says Mr. Thielmann. But consider what the consensus evaluation of October 2002 actually told President Bush:
“More than ten years of sanctions and the loss of much of Iraq’s physical nuclear infrastructure under IAEA oversight have not diminished Saddam’s interest in acquiring or developing nuclear weapons….Iraq’s efforts to procure tens of thousands of proscribed high-strength aluminum tubes are of significant concern.
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