In an interview with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly to air Monday night, Jeb Bush says that he would have authorized the 2003 Iraq War.
Kelly asks Bush, “Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion?”
Bush effectively dodges that question but says that “confronted with the intelligence that [the George W. Bush administration] got” in 2003, he would have authorized the invasion. He argues that the intelligence provided to his brother’s administration left them with no choice but to invade.
The Iraq War, however, was not dictated by intelligence. Rather the administration cherry-picked, manipulated and ignored intelligence to support their predetermined outcome.
This is the view of the CIA official who oversaw Middle East intelligence during that time, Paul Pillar. In 2006, Pillar published an article in Foreign Affairs, writing:
In the wake of the Iraq war, it has become clear that official intelligence analysis was not relied on in making even the most significant national security decisions, that intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions already made… and that the intelligence community’s own work was politicized. As the national intelligence officer responsible for the Middle East from 2000 to 2005, I witnessed all of these disturbing developments.
Pillar concluded that “Official intelligence on Iraqi weapons programs was flawed, but even with its flaws, it was not what led to the war.”
A bipartisan, if contentious, report of the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that the George W. Bush administration “repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent.” The report documented numerous statements made by the Bush administration to justify the war that were not supported by intelligence.
Mike McConnell, the Director Of National Intelligence under George W. Bush from 2007 to 2009, found the administration “set up a whole new interpretation because they didn’t like the answers” the intelligence community was giving them. Inside the Pentagon, an effort was led by Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith to “reinterpret information” provided to them by intelligence. It was Feith’s group that produced and promoted “false links between Iraq and al Qaeda.”
Bush, however, is unmoved. “if they’re trying to find places where there’s big space between me and my brother, [Iraq] might not be one of those,” he said.