Andrew seems to see more than I did in Sidney Blumenthal’s report into information the president apparently got from Naji Sabri about Saddam’s WMD programs. The essential problem here is that Sabri was Saddam Hussein’s foreign minister. Obviously, in retrospect we know that Sabri’s claims that Iraq had no WMD were completely accurate. But given the context, the fact that Sabri said Iraq had no WMD had no real probative value. In particular, the headline “Bush knew Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction” seems incredibly overblown. What Bush “knew” was that Saddam’s foreign minister said Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction, which isn’t at all the same thing.
The emphasis Blumenthal puts on the notion that this allegedly vital Sabri information was withheld from congress seems to me to let members of congress who voted for the war off the hook way too easily. Nobody who believed Saddam had an advanced nuclear weapons program would have been shaken from this belief by Sabri’s denials. Meanwhile, anyone who read the information that was provided to congress could have seen that the White House was significantly overstating the case on a variety of fronts. The problem was that all-too-many members of congress either didn’t check the information, didn’t care about the truth, or didn’t want to know too much lest it trouble their conscience as they cast votes out of political opportunism.