Yesterday, Scott McClellan was asked when senior administration officials became aware of a Pentagon report which found that trailers in Iraq “had nothing to do with biological weapons.” McClellan said he was “looking into it.”
He was asked again today — and still didn’t have an answer. To dodge the question, McClellan changed the subject. He talked about how the Defense Department processes information. But that is not the issue. The issue is when top administration officials became aware of the Pentagon field report. Today’s transcript:
QUESTION: When did the administration become aware of the Pentagon report that talks about mobile trailers?
MCCLELLAN: The only update I have on that matter is what the Pentagon said yesterday.
The Pentagon put out a statement and talked about how that was a preliminary report from a DIA — would mean Defense Intelligence Agency — sponsored technical exploitation team. And that information was sent to the DIA. And then they said that the CIA-DIA joint white paper that was released publicly on May 28th reflected the position of the intelligence community at the time, and that the findings that you’re bringing up were vetted with other intelligence analysts during the summer of 2003.
So that’s a statement from the Pentagon, and that’s the only update I have at this point.
If in the summer and fall of 2003, Cheney and others had simply said that the purpose of labs was still being determined, there would be no problem. The problem is that they made unequivocal statements that the trailers were equipped to produce biological weapons when, in all likelihood, they knew experts had serious doubts.