Clare Luce Democrats: How they're lying about 'he lied us into war'

Friday, November 4, 2005

The Wall Street Journal

Harry Reid pulled the Senate into closed session Tuesday, claiming that "The Libby indictment provides a window into what this is really all about, how this administration manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq." But the minority leader's statement was as demonstrably false as his stunt was transparently political.

What Mr. Reid's pose is "really all about" is the emergence of the Clare Boothe Luce Democrats. We're referring to the 20th-century playwright, and wife of Time magazine founder Henry Luce, who was most famous for declaring that Franklin D. Roosevelt had "lied us into war" with the Nazis and Tojo. So intense was the hatred of FDR among some Republicans that they held fast to this slander for years, with many taking their paranoia to their graves.

We are now seeing the spectacle of Bush-hating Democrats adopting a similar slander against the current president regarding the Iraq War. The indictment by Patrick Fitzgerald of vice presidential aide I. Lewis Libby has become their latest opening to promote this fiction, notwithstanding the mountains of contrary evidence. To wit:

* In July 2004, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a bipartisan 500-page report that found numerous failures of intelligence gathering and analysis. As for the Bush administration's role, "The committee did not find any evidence that administration officials attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to change their judgments related to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction."

* The Butler Report, published by the British in July 2004, similarly found no evidence of "deliberate distortion," although it too found much to criticize in the quality of prewar intelligence.

* The March 2005 Robb-Silberman report on WMD intelligence was equally categorical, finding "no evidence of political pressure to influence the Intelligence Community's pre-war assessments of Iraq's weapons programs. ... analysts universally asserted that in no instance did political pressure cause them to skew or alter any of their analytical judgments. We conclude that it was the paucity of intelligence and poor analytical tradecraft, rather than political pressure, that produced the inaccurate pre-war intelligence assessments."

* Finally, last Friday, there was Mr. Fitzgerald: "This indictment's not about the propriety of the war, and people who believe fervently in the war effort, people who oppose it, people who are -- have mixed feelings about it should not look to this indictment for any resolution of how they feel or any vindication of how they feel." In short, everyone who has looked into the question of whether the Bush administration lied about intelligence, distorted intelligence, or pressured intelligence agencies to produce assessments that would support a supposedly pre-baked decision to invade Iraq has come up with the same answer: No, no, no and no.

Everyone, that is, except Joseph Wilson IV. He first became the Democrats' darling in July 2003, when he published an op-ed claiming he'd debunked Mr. Bush's "16 words" on Iraqi attempts to purchase African yellowcake and that the administration had distorted the evidence about Saddam's weapons programs to fit its agenda. This Wilson tale fit the "lied us into war" narrative so well that he was adopted by the John Kerry presidential campaign.

Only to be dropped faster than a Paris Hilton boyfriend after the Senate Intelligence and Butler reports were published. Those reports clearly showed that, while Saddam had probably not purchased yellowcake from Niger, the dictator had almost certainly tried -- and that Mr. Wilson's own briefing of the CIA after his mission supported that conclusion. Mr. Wilson somehow omitted that fact from his public accounts at the time.

He also omitted to explain why the CIA had sent him to Niger: His wife, who worked at the CIA, had suggested his name for the trip, a fact Mr. Wilson also denied, but which has also since been proven. In other words, the only real support there has ever been for the "Bush lied" storyline came from a man who is himself a demonstrable liar. If we were Nick Kristof and the other writers who reported Mr. Wilson's facts as gospel, we'd be apologizing to our readers.

Yet, incredibly, Mr. Wilson has once again become the Democrats' favorite mascot because they want him as a prop for their "lied us into war" revival campaign. They must think the media are stupid, because so many Democrats are themselves on the record in the pre-Iraq War period as declaring that Saddam had WMD.

Here is Al Gore from Sept. 23, 2002, amid the Congressional debate over going to war: "We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country."

Or Hillary Rodham Clinton, from Oct. 10, 2002: "In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members. ... "

Or Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the Democratic vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee, who is now leading the "Bush lied" brigades (from Oct. 10, 2002): "There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years. ... We also should remember we have always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction."

If Mr. Bush is a liar, what does the use of the phrase "unmistakable evidence" make Mr. Rockefeller? A fool? The scandal here isn't what happened before the war. The scandal is that the same Democrats who saw the same intelligence that Mr. Bush saw, who drew the same conclusions, and who voted to go to war are now using the difficulties we've encountered in that conflict as an excuse to rewrite history. Are Republicans really going to let them get away with it?

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