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Thursday, November 20, 2003
Towards framing the debate over what was known about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq
Truth will not make us free, but taking control of the production of truth will.
John Diamond writes in yesterday's USA Today:
CIA Director George Tenet has ordered investigators to substantially widen their internal probe of Iraq intelligence to consider whether the agency missed telltale signs that Iraq had gotten rid of its weapons of mass destruction before the U.S.-led invasion last March.This matter is of great controversy and it is hard to talk about without getting into debates about whether or not the invasion of Iraq was justified, something that Saragon recently made clear if it wasn't beforehand. Still keeping an eye on the government's actions is important, especially when the action involves war, and so questions do need to be asked. Before they can be formulated, some agreement needs to be reached. Specifically, there needs to be agreement that Team Bush not only said Saddam Hussein's regime had weapons of mass destruction but also that at various times they said the regime presently had the ability and the motive to strike the U.S. and that this was one of the reasons given for invading Iraq. If agreement isn't there on these points, the rest of this discussion is pointless, but if there is agreement the following are questions of great importance...
1) What did Team Bush know about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?
2) What did Team Bush believe about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?
3) If the answer to 2) is different from the answer to 1), what explains this difference? Specifically, was it a matter of the information they had and didn't have, the analysis of this information or both?
4) What did Team Bush know about "the threat" posed by Saddam's regime?
5) What did Team Bush believe about "the threat" posed by Saddam's regime?
6) If the answer to 5) is different from 4), what explains the difference? Was it a matter of the information they had and didn't have, the analysis of this information or both?
7) Did inclinations to a particular policy, set of policies, action or set of actions influence how Team Bush collected and/or analyzed data related to weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the threat coming from Saddam's regime? If so, how and what particular policy, set of policies, action or set of actions were the inclinations for?
8) Were Team Bush's statements about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the threat posed by Saddam's regime consistent with what they knew and what they believed? If not, what were the differences? Specifically, did they say and/or imply they knew more or less about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq than they actually did and did they say and/or imply that they knew more or less about the threat from Saddam's regime than they actually did?
9) Were the actions of Team Bush consistent with regard to Iraq consistent with the answers to questions 1), 2), 4) and 5). If not, how were they different?
A few things needs to be clarified. First, by Team Bush, I mean not only the Bush Administration but also those directly part of the Bush Administration's governing apparatus. For example, an assistant to Secretary of State Colin Powell might actually be an employee of the State Department but should be considered part of Team Bush due to Powell's position. Second, there almost certainly were differences amongst members of Team Bush on the matters touched upon in these questions. This doesn't mean that there are not answers to these questions but rather that the answers need to take this into account when applicable. There are also going to be issues time -when did they know what they knew?- that complicate answers. Finally, it is very possible that answers to all of these questions will not be forthcoming and/or that the answers that do become available are lacking in terms of clarity. While unfortunate, this does not mean that the pursuit of answers to these questions is misguided as any answers that do come out will be important in developing an historical evaluation of the Team Bush's level of honesty and their drive towards invading Iraq.