FACT CHECK: Rove Deputy Peddling False Claims About Pre-War Iraq Intelligence

In today’s Wall Street Journal, Peter Wehner, Karl Rove’s deputy and the director of the White House’s Office of Strategic Initiatives, writes an op-ed attempting to debunk “antiwar myths.” The White House has been emailing the article to reporters this morning. Employing the same tactic that led the nation into war, the White House continues to use the media to peddle false claims in the hopes they will be accepted. Below is a debunk of their debunk:

1) To rebut the “myth” that “The president misled Americans to convince them to go to war,” Wehner claims, “Important assumptions turned out wrong; but mistakenly relying on faulty intelligence is a world apart from lying about it.”

FACT: Administration Created Stovepipes To Feed Politicized Intelligence. In his nomination hearing last week, Gen. Michael Hayden admitted that he “wasn’t comfortable” with the administration’s approach to Iraq intelligence. Hayden’s comments reveal that intelligence experts like himself were sidelined in the run-up to the war while political leaders like Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, and Doug Feith set up intelligence stovepipes to “get the information they wanted directly to the top leadership.”

FACT: Administration Had Its Sights Set on War Regardless of Intelligence. Despite Bush’s insistence that he didn’t want war, there is overwhelming evidence he made up his mind to go to war well before the intelligence community rendered its judgments.


2) To rebut the “myth” that “The Bush administration pressured intelligence agencies to bias their judgments,” Wehner claims, “This myth is shattered by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s bipartisan Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq.”

FACT: Roberts Blocking Phase II. The question of whether the administration exerted political pressure over pre-war intelligence was left to Phase II of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation. Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Cover-Up Committee, continues to thwart the completion of the report.

FACT: CIA Review Panel Found Analysts Were Subjected To Pressure. A July 2003 report produced by a “CIA review panel found that agency analysts were subjected to ‘steady and heavy’ requests from administration officials for evidence of links between Iraq and al-Qaida, which created ‘significant pressure on the Intelligence Community to find evidence that supported a connection.’”

3) To rebut the “myth” that “Because weapons of mass destruction stockpiles weren’t found, Saddam posed no threat,” Wehner states, “[W]hile we did not find stockpiles of WMD in Iraq, what we did find was enough to alarm any sober-minded individual.”

FACT: Charles Duelfer, the Administration’s Own Iraq Investigator, Found No Evidence That Saddam Posed an Immediate Threat. Duelfer, 10/6/04: “We found no evidence that he was passing to terrorist groups WMD material.” “We found no evidence [of an active nuclear weapons program], nor do we judge that there was one.” “It was my judgment that Iraq retained, perhaps, a strategic reserve — in other words, a deterrent, not an offensive capability.”

4) To rebut the “myth” that “Promoting democracy in the Middle East is a postwar rationalization,” Wehner states, “President Bush argued for democracy taking root in Iraq before the war began,” citing an example from February 2003.

FACT: Major Iraq Speeches Failed To Mention Democracy. In a major speech on Iraq in October 7, 2002 in Cincinnati, Bush failed to mention his desire to bring “democracy” to Iraq even once. Bush’s 2003 State of the Union failed to mention Bush’s desire to bring “democracy” to Iraq. Instead, Bush spent paragraph after paragraph laying out the false intelligence for going to war.

FACT: Bush Said Disarmament Was Mission In Iraq. Bush, 3/6/03: “Our mission is clear in Iraq. Should we have to go in, our mission is very clear: disarmament. And in order to disarm, it would mean regime change. I’m confident we’ll be able to achieve that objective, in a way that minimizes the loss of life. No doubt there’s risks in any military operation; I know that. But it’s very clear what we intend to do. And our mission won’t change. Our mission is precisely what I just stated. We have got a plan that will achieve that mission, should we need to send forces in.”