In his new book, former CIA Director George Tenet alleges that there was “never a serious debate that I know of within the administration about the imminence of the Iraq threat,” suggesting the administration had made up its mind to go to war from an early stage.
On CNN’s Late Edition, Condoleezza Rice responded, “We all thought that the intelligence case was strong,” adding that even “the U.N weapons inspectors [thought] Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.” She concluded, “So there’s no blame here of anyone.” Watch it:
Rice would like the public to believe that no one is to blame because everyone was misled by the intelligence. In fact, U.N. weapons inspectors declared weeks before the invasion that Hussein did not possess WMD. The inspectors publicly lambasted consistently false and misleading U.S. intelligence leading up to the war:
[On March 7, 2003], the head of the IAEA, Mohamed El-Baradei, reported that there was no evidence that Saddam Hussein had any nuclear weapons or was in the process of acquiring them. Mr Blix said: “By then, Mohamed ElBaradei revealed that Niger was not authentic.” British intelligence falsely claimed Iraq had been trying to acquire uranium from Niger. [4/28/05]
So frustrated have the inspectors become that one source has referred to the U.S. intelligence they’ve been getting as “garbage after garbage after garbage.” … The inspectors find themselves caught between the Iraqis, who are masters at the weapons-hiding shell game, and the United States, whose intelligence they’ve found to be circumstantial, outdated or just plain wrong. [2/20/03]
Chief United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix told the U.N. Security Council that his inspection teams had not found any “smoking guns” after visiting some 125 Iraqi sites. [1/9/03]
RICE: But let me go back to George on this one. I certainly don’t blame George for the slam dunk comment having the sense that that was the reason we went to war. I think the completeness reading of how, certainly, I read the slam dunk comment…
BLITZER: Does he deserve an apology?
RICE: You know, I was asked about this, and I was asked “Did he say slam dunk?” I said, “Yes, but we all thought that the intelligence case was strong.” To the degree that there was an intelligence problem here, it was not just an intelligence problem with George Tenet, it was not just an intelligence problem with U.S. intelligence.
It was an intelligence problem worldwide. We all thought — including U.N. inspectors — that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. So there’s no blame here of anyone.