a stunning blow to the president's credibility,
CIA Director George Tenet said this morning that
intelligence "analysts never said there was an
imminent threat" from Iraq before the war. His
comments are consistent with various warnings
sent to the White House from the intelligence
community that specifically told the president
his claims that Iraq definitely had chemical/biological
and nuclear weapons were unsubstantiated. Tenet's
comments call into question whether the Bush Administration
was knowingly ignoring intelligence and misleading
the country by claiming definitively that Iraq
had weapons of mass destruction and was therefore
an "imminent," "immediate," "urgent" and "mortal"
threat to the American people.
the White House has claimed it never said Iraq
was an imminent threat, the record proves otherwise.
When White House communications director Dan Bartlett
was asked before the war whether Saddam Hussein
was an imminent threat, he responded, "Of course
he is." When White House spokesman Scott McClellan
was asked why NATO (and thus the United States)
should support Turkey's request for defensive
troops, he responded, "This is about an imminent
threat." When White House spokesman Ari Fleischer
was asked whether the invasion of Iraq was because
Iraq was an imminent threat, he responded, "Absolutely."
president also used other language aimed at misleading
Americans into thinking that U.S. intelligence
definitively knew Iraq had weapons of mass destruction
that threatened America - even though the intelligence
community told the president it had no such evidence.
The president said before the war that Iraq was
an "urgent threat" and a "grave threat" to "any
American." In his speech informing Americans that
the invasion had started, the President said Iraq
"threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder."
comments were echoed by other top Administration
officials. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
said on September 19, 2002 that "no terrorist
state poses a greater or more immediate threat
to the security of our people and the stability
of the world than the regime of Saddam Hussein
in Iraq." And Vice President Cheney called Iraq
a "mortal threat," and said "there is no doubt
that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction...to
use against our friends, against our allies, and
against us." And Secretary of State Colin Powell,
in pressing for U.N. support, said definitively
that Iraq possessed "deadly weapons programs"
that "are real and present dangers to the region
and to the world."
Posted: February 9, 2004