Bush Resurrects False Claim That Congress Had “Same Intelligence” On Iraq

In his speech today, President Bush claimed that members of Congress who voted for the 2002 Iraq war resolution “had access to the same intelligence” as his administration. This is patently false.

Nevermind that much of the intelligence offered to the public and to Congress was inaccurate and misleading, or that according to the Downing Street memo and other documents, such intelligence was likely intentionally “fixed.” It is simply not true to state that Congress received the “same intelligence” as the White House:

FACT — Dissent From White House Claims on Iraq Nuclear Program Consistently Withheld from Congress:

[S]everal Congressional and intelligence officials with access to the 15 assessments [of intel suggesting aluminum tubes showed Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program] said not one of them informed senior policy makers of the Energy Department’s dissent. They described a series of reports, some with ominous titles, that failed to convey either the existence or the substance of the intensifying debate.” [NYT, 10/3/04]


FACT — Sen. Kerrey: Bush “Has Much More Access” to Intel Than Congress:

Former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-NE), ex-Senate Intelligence Committee vice chairman: “The president has much more access to intelligence than members of Congress does. Ask any member of Congress. Ask a Republican member of Congress, do you get the same access to intelligence that the president does? Look at these aluminum tube stories that came out the president delivered to the Congress — ‘We believe these would be used for centrifuges.’ — didn’t deliver to Congress the full range of objections from the Department of Energy experts, nuclear weapons experts, that said it’s unlikely they were for centrifuges, more likely that they were for rockets, which was a pre-existing use. The president has much more access to intelligence than any member of Congress.” [10/7/04]

FACT — Rockefeller: PDBs, CIA Intel Withheld From Senate:

Ranking minority member on the Senate Intelligence Committee Jay Rockefeller (D-WV): “[P]eople say, ‘Well, you know, you all had the same intelligence that the White House had.’ And I’m here to tell you that is nowhere near the truth. We not only don’t have, nor probably should we have, the Presidential Daily Brief. We don’t have the constant people who are working on intelligence who are very close to him. They don’t release their — an administration which tends not to release — not just the White House, but the CIA, DOD [Department of Defense], others — they control information. There’s a lot of intelligence that we don’t get that they have.” [11/04/05]

FACT — War Supporter Ken Pollack: White House Engaged in “Creative Omission” of Iraq Intel:

In the eyes of Kenneth Pollack, “a Clinton-era National Security Council member and strong supporter of regime change in Iraq,” “the Administration consistently engaged in ‘creative omission,’ overstating the imminence of the Iraqi threat, even though it had evidence to the contrary. ‘The President is responsible for serving the entire nation,’ Pollack writes. ‘Only the Administration has access to all the information available to various agencies of the US government — and withholding or downplaying some of that information for its own purposes is a betrayal of that responsibility.’” [Christian Science Monitor, 1/14/04]

FACT — White House Had Exclusive Access to “Unique” Intel Sources:

“The claim that the White House and Congress saw the ‘same intelligence’ on Iraq is further undermined by the Bush administration’s use of outside intelligence channels. For more than year prior to the war, the administration received intelligence assessments and analysis on Iraq directly from the Department of Defense’s Office of Special Plans (OSP), run by then-undersecretary of defense for policy Douglas J. Feith, and the Iraqi National Congress (INC), a group of Iraqi exiles led by Ahmed Chalabi.” [MediaMatters, 11/8/05]