Thursday, June 23, 2005

Daily Howler: Woodward confirms Downing Street

I've been meaning to post more references to the excellent analysis of the Downing Street Memos that have ben posted on the Daily Howler over the past week. As always, he does a thorough and insightful job of reviewing the controversy. His best insight comes from reviewing the implications of the memos with what Woodward writes about in Plan of Attack. Check out
A few weeks after the Downing Street memo, Cheney started pimping the nukes

Did the Bush Admin start faking the intel shortly after the Downing Street memo? In Woodward’s book, it’s clear that they did. Woodward clearly says they overstated the intel about the general WMD question. Indeed, as Woodward stresses, after Cheney overstated the intel on August 26, and the president himself shortly followed, making unequivocal claims for the first time about Saddam’s possession of WMD. Was there "no doubt" that Saddam had WMD? That just wasn’t the state of the intel, Woodward stresses. But he also stresses that major players did believe that Saddam had such weapons.

But those scary nukes were different. Although Woodward downplays this part of the story, it is perfectly clear that the Bush Admin began pimping the nukes shortly after the Downing Street memo. Cheney’s speech on August 26 raised the specter of nuclear attack. "Many of us are convinced that Saddam Hussein will acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon," Cheney said–and he implied that "fairly soon" might mean "within a year." Cheney may have been "convinced" of this fact–some are convinced that the earth is flat–but this plainly wasn’t the state of the intel, nor were Cheney’s claims supported in the subsequent October NIE. And uh-oh! Two weeks after Cheney’s speech, Rice went and out and embellished further, baldly misstating the actual intel regarding those aluminum tubes. Soon Bush himself was scaring the voters; in a major speech on October 7, he said "we cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun, that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud." In short, within a few weeks of the Downing Street memo, the Bush Admin was "fixing the intel" by lustily pimping Saddam’s scary nukes. Sadly, though, the liberal and Democratic establishments haven’t put this info to good use in their critiques of the route to war in Iraq.

Read more of the Daily Howler's analysis of Downing Street. I know its changed my perspective.

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