WMDs and dis/misinformation
At the risk of sounding like a Bush basher, it seems to me that the political issue is no longer whether we find WMDs in Iraq. As pressure on the administration and the intelligence gathering sources grows in a surprisingly non-partisan way, I think the political issue has shifted dramatically, and I wonder who will/should take the fall.
Whether there are WMDs seems to no longer be the question. The question isn't even why we haven't found them yet, but where along the line the failure of intelligence gathering and communication arose. The evidence is clear and fairly irrevocable, in the process of drumming up support for the war the administration made dramatic statements that have proven false, incorrect, misleading, or fictional. Not simply that Iraq possessed WMDs and chemical weapons, but inaccuracies about where they might be, what kinds they might be, in what quantities, and how quickly they could be used.
In particular, the remarks in Bush's State of the Union address about Iraq's purchase of materials to create a nuclear device, and how close Hussein might be to such a device, were not just exaggerated, but outright incorrect. More significantly, the information had long since been proven false, which begs the question: how did information that had long since been debunked find its way into the President's speech.
There are, as I see it (and you're welcome to draw more conclusions), 2 possiblities.
First is that the links of communication between the branches of intelligence in the system were broken. That key officials still had every valid reason to believe erroneous information, and that the administration was simply inept in building a solid factual support for its case. In this case Bush and high officials believed every inaccurate statement they made.
Second, the administration coerced intelligence officials to only provide data that supported their politcal agenda. In this case, clear evidence that refuted erroneous data was surpressed to appease an administration bent on war. In this case, officials would be making incorrect statements with plausible deniability, but almost certainly an awareness that they were telling neither the world, the American public, or congress the full story.
Third is, of course, that war mongering officials chose to ignore crucial data, to lie to everyone in their all out bid for war.
As the scope of this investigation, and whether sanctioned or not there is an investigation underwar, shifts from what we might find in Iraq, to what we might find in our intelligence gathering process, it seems to me that someone is and should be held accountable for the dramatic fissure between what we were told and what was accurate. I don't know if this was Bush, or Rumsfeld, or the CIA, or simply a system that failed, but politically speaking, I think someone will be put to task.
Unfortunately, my personal opinion is that someone will prove a patsy for those with much more power and influence.
Please note: I am not commenting on whether we should have invaded. I'm not even indicting Bush here. I'm simply pointing out how I see the situation, and suggesting that regardless of the ends, no administration or official should be pardoned from intentionally misleading both the world and Congress. It's kind of a founding principle.