Former Bush administration national security adviser Stephen Hadley appeared on MSNBC today to respond to Karl Rove’s admission in his new book that “Congress was very unlikely to have supported the use-of-force resolution without the W.M.D. threat.” MSNBC’s Chuck Todd remarked “I can’t remember anybody this close to the president saying we went to war under a false pretense.”
HADLEY: It’s not that we did it on a false pretense, we did it on the basis of intelligence that turned out not to be true. This was intelligence that the intelligence community believed, other intelligence services across the world did, based on UN inspection records. We all thought Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. [...]
It’s very clear that when the president made the decision to go to war, that the inspections regime was not getting at the truth in Iraq, and that the economic sanctions which were preventing Saddam from using oil revenues for pressing his neighbors, supporting terror, doing WMD, were about to collapse. So I think the president really played this out as long as possible. And he would tell you today that he thinks that if the international community had retained its unity, if President Chirac, Chancellow Schroeder, President Putin had stayed with us in putting pressure on Iraq, we might have been able to do this without resort to war.
This is ridiculous. It is simply no longer a matter of serious dispute that the Bush administration manipulated, exaggerated and lied about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s regime in order to build public support for the war.
Hadley’s suggestion that we could’ve avoided war if only the allies “had stayed with us” is just an insult — it’s long been known that the Bush administration started planning three months after September 11, 2001. It would have been great if Chuck Todd or co-host Savannah Guthrie had spent a little time over the last seven years developing some familiarity with this stuff in order to challenge Hadley on it. Instead, they just sit there while he spins and then move on to the next thing.
It’s amazing that we still need to have this debate, but we’ll keep having it as long as former Bush administration officials keep trying to rewrite history, and as long as journalists continue to neglect to do their job in correcting it.