If anyone can say definitively whether Congress receives the “same intelligence” as the White House on the most sensitive national security issues, it is long-time U.S. intelligence czar Richard Clarke.
He set the record straight on the popular White House talking point last night on the Daily Show, pointing out that Bush officials had access to reams of raw prewar intelligence data that Congress never saw nor had the opportunity to verify:
What happened was that Congress got the finished intelligence that said these things. They didn’t see all the details. … They don’t get the raw information. They don’t get the [forged documents purportedly showing Iraq sought uranium in Africa]; they get the answer, you know — “the uranium going from…” — but they don’t get the information that it’s based on.
Full transcript below:
CLARKE: There’s all sorts of intelligence out there, and [Vice President Cheney] picked out the worst reports. So the Mohammed Atta report is from a drunk — literally. We know that. The report about getting uranium from Niger, from Africa, turns out to be a forged document. If you just looked at it, it was like crayons, you know?
STEWART: It was apparently written by an Italian guy in a hotel room.
STEWART: Rocco Martino or something like that.
CLARKE: Yeah, great name.
STEWART: By the way, big fan of the show. But it really does seem like they did what most administrations do: they picked the best things you could use to sell the thing they wanted to sell, and now that it turned out to be kind of a gag gift, if you will, they’re starting to go back and say, “Hey, but you bought it, too.”
CLARKE: Yeah, but people didn’t buy it. What happened was that Congress got the finished intelligence that said these things. They didn’t see all the details–
STEWART: So the idea that they get the same intelligence–
CLARKE: They don’t get the raw information. They don’t get the cartoon from Rocco. They get the answer, you know — “the uranium going from…” — but they don’t get the information that it’s based on. And when the president says, “Everybody agreed there were weapons of mass destruction.” Sure, that wasn’t the question. The question was, so what?
STEWART: Is he an imminent threat and are we in danger?
CLARKE: He had weapons of mass destruction for 20 years. He didn’t even use weapons of mass destruction on the U.S. Army when the U.S. Army in 1991 was driving up his highway.