Last week President Bush pledged to “reveal the truth” about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. Until then, the media are doing it for him.
U.S. News and World Report tells how Secretary of State Colin Powell was under pressure to add dubious intelligence to his February 5 speech to the United Nations on Iraq’s weapons. Vice President Dick Cheney’s aides wanted Powell to allege in his report that Iraq had bought software intended to be used for evil purposes against the U.S. and that Mohammed Atta, the suspected leader of the September 11 hijacking, met up with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague before 9/11, even though it was not confirmed by U.S. or European intelligence agencies. The magazine also reported that the Defense Intelligence Agency issued a classified report last September concluding that there was no hard evidence that Iraq had chemical weapons.
In another article, the Washington Post reported that before the war, Cheney made numerous “hands-on” visits to the CIA to chat with analysts looking into Iraq’s weapons program. Some analysts felt forced to make a judgment compatible to Bush’s pro-war stance, which was that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Senior intelligence officials said that “Cheney sent signals, intended or otherwise, that a certain output was desired from here.”
This week, an Army intelligence officer was quoted in Time saying that Donald Rumsfeld “was deeply, almost pathologically distorting the intelligence” in favor of war.
Back in the field, U.S. search teams have pored over close to 230 suspected sites but have found no weapons, except for two truck trailers that Bush claims are mobile biological weapons labs.
The question whether Bush officials misused, lied or were misled about intelligence will be the focus of a Senate investigation, possibly this month.