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November 11, 2005

Reid Statement and Fact-Checking Bush's Speech

-- by Dave Johnson

First a statement from Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, then a fact-check:

Washington, DC - Today, Democratic Leader Harry Reid released the following statement on Bush's speech on Iraq and the war on terror:

"On this Veterans Day, the President had the opportunity to honor our troops, both those who have served and those who are currently serving, by laying out a clear strategy for success in the war in Iraq. Instead, the President resorted to his old playbook of discredited rhetoric about the war on terror and political attacks as his own political fortunes and credibility diminish.

"Attacking those patriotic Americans who have raised serious questions about the case the Bush Administration made to take our country to war does not provide us a plan for success that will bring our troops home. Americans seek the truth about how the nation committed our troops to war because the decision to go to war is too serious to be entered into under faulty pretenses. While the Bush administration continues to stonewall the Congress from finding the truth about the manipulation of prewar intelligence, Democrats will continue to press for a full airing of the facts. We stand with our troops when we ask the hard questions, and with their families when we fight to get them, their families and our veterans the benefits they deserve.

"We fear Iraq has become what it was not before the war, a haven for terrorists. We can no longer simply pledge to stay the course, we must change the cours. The American people are demanding a comprehensive plan and the benchmarks by which to measure our success for the war in Iraq. The president's continued refusal to provide that plan does nothing to support our troops or their families."

And a FactCheck e-mail I received:
FACT CHECK: 2 Key Inaccuracies in President Bush’s Speech

FACT CHECK ONE

President Bush said today that Democrats in Congress “had access to the same intelligence” as he did in deciding to go to war in Iraq. [Bush, 11/11/05]

Fact: Congress did not have access to the same intelligence the Bush Administration did. And intelligence passed through the White House before getting to Congress.

According to Bob Woodward's Plan of Attack:

The Bush Administration showed Saudi Prince Bandar more intelligence than was shown to Congress. (p. 264.)

White House Brought Over Small Groups of Congressmen to Sell Iraq Intelligence Because it "Worked Better." In the month of September 2002, Woodward writes, "Several times a week Nick Calio arranged for congressmen or senators to attend intelligence briefings or small ad hoc working group sessions, either on Capitol Hill or at the White House, even in the intimacy of the Situation Room. The small-group selling forum worked better than the large sessions. In case anyone was looking around for clues, one of the three red digital clocks marking time around the world was set for Iraq." (p.185)

Senators Not Shown the National Intelligence Estimate Until Three Days Before the Iraq War Vote. It is not until October 8, 2002, three days before the Senate vote on the Iraq war resolution, and after debate has already started, that 47+ senators are briefed or shown the entire NIE with its key judgment that Iraq "has chemical and biological weapons," writes Woodward. (p. 203)

And, the National Intelligence Estimate Given to Congress Didn’t Provide Enough Detail to Frame a Critique. When the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq was presented to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Bob Woodward writes, “some senators focused on the larger questions the CIA had not addressed…No senator had enough of the picture – military planning details were not provided to the Hill and the CIA plans were highly classified – to frame an effective critique.” (p. 199)


FACT CHECK TWO

President Bush said today that a Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure changing judgments among members of the intelligence community. “These critics are fully aware that a bi-partisan senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs.” [Bush, 11/11/05]

Fact: The President could either be referring to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation or the Silberman Robb Commission Report. In either case, the statement is misleading because neither of these reports reached the question of the Administration’s misuse of intelligence.

Fact: the Silberman Robb Commission was not even allowed to look at how policymakers misused intelligence: "[W]e were not authorized to investigate how policymakers used the intelligence assessments they received from the Intelligence Community. Accordingly, while we interviewed a host of current and former policymakers during the course of our investigation, the purpose of those interviews was to learn about how the Intelligence Community reached and communicated its judgments about Iraq's weapons programs--not to review how policymakers subsequently used that information." [Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, Report to the President, (Silberman Robb Commission) 3/31/05 ]

Fact: The Additional views of the Phase I intelligence report make clear that the Senate Intelligence Committee was prevented from investigating the Administration's misuse of pre-war intelligence.

Regrettably, the report paints an incomplete picture of what occurred during this period of time. The Committee set out to examine ten areas of investigation relating to pre-war intelligence on Iraq and we completed only five in this report. The scope of our investigation was divided in a way so as to prevent a complete examination of all the matters within the Committee's jurisdiction at one time.

The central issue of how intelligence on Iraq was used or misused by Administration officials in public statements and reports was relegated to the second phase of the Committee's investigation, along with other issues related to the intelligence activities of Pentagon policy officials, pre-war intelligence assessment about post-war Iraq and the role played by the Iraqi National Congress, led by Admad Chalabi, which claims to have passed "raw intelligence" and defector information directly to the Pentagon and the Office of the Vice President.

As a result, the Committee's phase one report fails to fully explain the environment of intense pressure in which Intelligence Community officials were asked to render judgments on matters relating to Iraq when policy officials had already forcefully stated their own conclusions in public. [Additional Views of Vice Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV, Senator Carl Levin, and Senator Richard Durbin].

Posted by Dave Johnson at November 11, 2005 2:21 PM

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Tracked on November 12, 2005 1:51 PM


Comments

Message from Reid and the DNC-- "We're dumber than Bush!" (Since he fooled them on intel)

Posted by: Pericles at November 11, 2005 6:41 PM

What Pericles is saying is that the Democrats should have realized that Bush was telling them lies! Which means that he realizes that Bush is a liar. And he thinks the Democrats were fools for not realizing that. What a sense of morality! Why would anyone take it for granted that the President of the United States would deceive the country into going to war?

Posted by: MJ at November 11, 2005 8:45 PM

MJ,

No. There argument is: Bush lied, we were fools, ergo we are less intelligent than Bush. No where in this or my previous statement do I imply that Bush was lying. What I am focusing on is that the Democrats have constructed an argument which reveals they were dumb.

Posted by: Pericles at November 11, 2005 9:40 PM

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