Kudos to the Washington Post’s Walter Pincus for writing a piece this weekend on a subject that few journalists seem to truly want to explore. Pincus uses the Downing Street memo as an opportunity to summarize some of the facts which strongly indicate that the Bush White House intentionally used false or weak evidence to convince an unwilling public to go to war with Iraq.
Despite the formation of a variety of commissions that have looked at the pre-war intelligence, not a single one has had the primary purpose of answering to the question of whether the White House knowingly manipulated intelligence. The Senate Intelligence Committee was supposed to have explored that question, but an agreement was reached between Pat Roberts and John Rockefeller to release their findings in two stages: the first would detail the shortcomings of the intelligence community (and was to be released prior to the 2004 campaign); the second part examining the White House’s pressure and manipulation of evidence was left for a later date.
When the first part of the Senate Intelligence Committee report was released in July 2004, Sen. Rockefeller acknowledged that it “fail[ed] to fully explain the environment of intense pressure in which the intelligence community officials were asked to render judgments on matters relating to Iraq….”
When Tim Russert asked Roberts whether he could produce the second part of the report before the election, Roberts said: “I don’t know if we can get it done before the election. It is more important to get it right.” It took Roberts approximately eight months to go back on his word, when upon release of the President’s Intelligence Commission report (which did not look specifically at administration pressure), he said: “I think that it would be a monumental waste of time to re-plow this ground any further.”
Hopefully, reporters will continue to find that it is not and should not be a waste of their time to get to the heart of whether the Bush White House knowingly deceived the American public into a war about which they had (and continue to have) deep reservations.