July 21, 2004

Straight Shooting on the 16 Words...

...in this WaPo masthead:

Money quotes:

But over the past 10 days two major official reports, by the Senate intelligence committee and a special British commission, have concluded that the claim in the "sixteen words" may, after all, have been justified. Britain's Butler report called it "well-founded"; the bipartisan Senate investigation said the conclusion was a reasonable one at least until October 2002 -- and that Mr. Wilson's report to the CIA had not changed its analysts' assessment...

What is to be learned from these findings? Not necessarily that Mr. Bush and his top aides are innocent of distorting the facts on Iraq. As we have said, we believe the record shows that they sometimes exaggerated intelligence reports that were themselves flawed. A case against Saddam Hussein could have been made without such hyperbole; by indulging in it, the Bush administration damaged its credibility and undermined support for the Iraq mission. But, as both the new reports underlined, no evidence has been presented that intelligence on Iraq was deliberately falsified for political purposes. In the intelligence community, analysts struggled to make sense of fragmentary and inconclusive reports, sometimes drawing varied and shifting conclusions. In the case of Niger, some chose to emphasize the evidence that Iraq explored the possibility of purchasing uranium. Others focused on the seemingly low probability that such a deal had been concluded or could have been carried out without detection...

Some of those who now fairly condemn the administration's "slam-dunk" approach to judging the intelligence about Iraq risk making the same error themselves. The failure to find significant stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons or an active nuclear program in Iraq has caused some war opponents to claim that Iraq was never much to worry about. The Niger story indicates otherwise. Like the reporting of postwar weapons investigator David Kay, it suggests that Saddam Hussein never gave up his intention to develop weapons of mass destruction and continued clandestine programs he would have accelerated when U.N. sanctions were lifted. No, the evidence is not conclusive. But neither did President Bush invent it.

So easy, isn't it?

Why can't the NYT or The Propaganda Machine handle this story with such judiciousness and integrity?

Yes, that's another rhetorical Q.


I respect Josh Marshall and read his blog daily (obviously).

I'm not trying to be cute or mean-spirited with my jestful new moniker for his excellent blog.

But, like everyone's favorite centrist Dan Drezner (here reacting to Josh's too eager Berger spin rather than the 16 words)--I get the sense Josh has lost some real street cred in the blogosphere of late touting the party line with such myopic alacrity.

Follow the facts, Josh, wherever they may lead!

Posted by Gregory at July 21, 2004 12:30 PM

Yeah, he's probably lost some cred. among centrist Republicans and the occasional wavering lefty such as myself.

But here's the deal. The bottom line is that Iraq had no nuclear program, and therefore had no use for the 500 tons of yellowcake that it might have made vague inquiries about but didn't get and most likely couldn't have gotten and in any case already had.

Posted by: praktike at July 21, 2004 02:06 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What about the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans? I haven't heard the report talking about that. It seems to me that not all the stones have been unturned.

Posted by: henry at July 21, 2004 03:38 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


So true. That's why I always read your blog last Mr. Dj-because here at last I find complete objective truth.

Posted by: martin at July 21, 2004 04:51 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

One thing I am having a tough time reconciling in the WaPo op-ed piece is this statement regarding Iraq's efforts to acquire uranium from Niger:

"the bipartisan Senate investigation said the conclusion was a reasonable one at least until October 2002"

But the State of the Union Address happened in January 2003 (2+ months later). So, was it right for Bush to rely on a conclusion from British Intel that his own CIA said was unreasonable, unfounded, dubious and speculative?

Furthermore, consider this quote from a USA Today article via Laura Rozen's site:

"The Senate Intelligence Committee report accepted the CIA's ultimate assessment not reached until after the war that there was little if any credible evidence available to U.S. intelligence to support the charge that Iraq sought, let alone bought, uranium from Niger."

So it appears that the CIA is solidifying its earlier assessment, and the Senate Committee is backing up their conclusions, despite the Butler Report.

Posted by: Eric Martin at July 21, 2004 05:18 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It is curious that a "well founded" nugget of intel such as the "16 words" wasn't "well founded" enough to find its way into Secretary Powell's UN presentation a few days later and that none of the evidence for it was ever turned over to the IAEA despite the fact that UNSC Resolution 1441 requested such material.

Posted by: Matt at July 21, 2004 09:50 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I hate to say it but agree with the contention that Josh is spinning to support the liberal line, mainly via ommission or groundless speculation. I'm disapponinted. I'm looking for an intelligent liberal evalualtion of events (not the mediafix crap). The republicans/consies recoil and censure frequently (not always). Right now, this generation of dems/libs never do. They circle the wagons.

Nitro Nora
Grand Junction Colorado USA

Posted by: nitronora at July 22, 2004 02:16 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If you're looking for an intelligent Dem, go right on past TPM. Read him for awhile after hearing him on the radio, but never found a reason to continue, unless you're looking for (Democratic) Talking Points. Boring, not insightful, and is now working on 54 Big Stories (which never seem to actually come about).

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