Last week, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) sought to excuse his constant and vociferous cheerleading for the Iraq war in 2002 and 2003 by claiming that “every intelligence agency in the world” believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction:
I know why I supported [the war] because I believed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction as did every intelligence agency in the world and every assessment.
Unfortunately for McCain, the Senate Select Intelligence Committee released the final two sections of its report today on the White House’s use of prewar intelligence, which proves the wide discrepancies between war hawks’ claims and intelligence available at the time. Chairman Jay Rockefeller said his committee “has concluded that the Administration made significant claims that were not supported by the intelligence”:
In making the case for war, the Administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent. As a result, the American people were led to believe that the threat from Iraq was much greater than actually existed. … Sadly, the Bush Administration led the nation into war under false pretenses.
The report also notes that pre-war statements by Bush administration officials “regarding the postwar situation in Iraq” — including Vice President Cheney’s infamous declaration that the U.S. would be “greeted as liberators” — “did not reflect the concerns and uncertainties expressed in the intelligence products.”
Like Cheney, McCain was not shy about assuring Americans that we would be “greeted as liberators.” Right before the war began, McCain told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that “absolutely” a “large number of Iraqis” will “treat us as liberators“:
MATTHEWS: Are you one of those who holds up an optimistic view of the post-war scene? Do you believe that the people of Iraq or at least a large number of them will treat us as liberators?
MCCAIN: Absolutely. Absolutely. [Hardball, 3/12/03]
In fact, the Senate Intelligence report on pre-war statements specifically notes a pre-war intelligence report that directly refuted this claim. A January 2003 Intelligence Community Assessment acknowledged that “Iraq was a deeply divided society that likely would engage in violent conflict unless an occupying power prevented it.”
In a statement, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said that the Senate Intel report confirms that “the Bush Administration engaged in a misleading marketing campaign to rush the country to war.”
,Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a member of the Intelligence Committee, said in a speech today that it “rots the very fiber of democracy when our government is put to these uses.”