Chris Matthews on CIA Leak Investigation and How America was Seduced into Iraq War


Chris Matthews is on Hardball right now laying out the case in a Special Report on the CIA leak investigation (and more) that the so-called “Iraq Group” in the White House deceived the Congress and America as a whole about WMD intelligence.
Matthews interviews Senator Carl Levin on the embellished “aluminum tube issue” and also outlines the very early Defense Intelligence Agency and CIA objections to the Iraqi source who was asserting that Saddam Hussein’s government had given biological and chemical weapons training to al Qaeda operatives.
Matthews asks Levin “how analytically, did the Vice President and his staff look at the evidence regarding going to war, or not going to war?” Levin responded that Vice President Cheney and other key members of the administration IGNORED any evidence that went against their pre-conceived decision to go to war. Levin makes the case that this time around the intelligence community was RIGHT about the absence of any link between Saddam’s regime and al Qaeda, and they were completely ignored and side-lined.
Levin pulled no punches in his level-headed criticism of the White House’s early obsession to go to war with Iraq as the central response to the 9/11 terror attacks. Levin’s account is supported by former UK Ambassador to the U.S. Christopher Meyers who is telling his story today in the Guardian — as well as in recent commentary by former Department of State Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson AND former Bush 41 National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft.
This show is great. I rarely live blog — but this show airs again at 7 p.m. — and people should see it.
E.J. Dionne and Tony Blankley are both on now — and they have all remarked that Carl Levin has a high degree of credibility. He voted against the Iraq War the first time around — but his commentary about the White House’s “Iraq Group” and its missteps were not propogandistic but “analytical” — according to Matthews.
I am going to close this up now — but Matthews says he’ll have more on the White House “Iraq Group” as well as former Senator Tom Daschle who designed the gameplan for invoking the Rule 21 “Closed-Door Session” that Harry Reid used to shock Bill Frist and the Republican majority to pay more attention to the abuses on Iraq intelligence and America’s right to know more about what exactly led this nation into war with Iraq.
I am back.
On the show, Tony Blankley refused to stand by Ahmed Chalabi — speaking Wednesday at the American Enterprise Institute at 2:30 p.m. Matthews implied that Chalabi is not a good guy — and essentially questioned whether any institution, including the Washington Times editorial board or any other institution should host Chalabi to sell his wares. Blankley didn’t take the bait.
He just basically said that the Pentagon pushed Chalabi — and the CIA and State Department opposed him.
David Shuster is now on with his own segment that focuses on the White House “Iraq Group” whose job it was to “sell” the Iraq War. He starts with Andy Card who said that the marketing effort required working with a brand people new — Saddam Hussein. Then the administration pumped the Iraq WMD story to Judith Miller, whose story was then trumpeted and echoed by Vice President Cheney on the television talk shows. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Meyers and Condi Rice added to the tilt.
The report excerpts Bush’s UN address on September 12, 2002 asserting that Iraq was acquiring aluminum tubes designed to build a nuclear weapon. Bush and Rice were both stating exactly the same thing, word for word, “we do not want the smoking gun to come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”
When the CIA discounted the aluminum tubes as probably designed for artillery shells and not nukes — the Bush administration warned the CIA to make no such disclosure. When ElBaradei’s International Atomic Energy Agency made the same assessment as the CIA, the White House discounted the IAEA findings.
This Shuster report is excellent. Even Matthews patted him on the back for this excellent report, which ended with a quote from the current President of the Council on Foreign Relations Richard Haass that the “Iraq War was a war of choice.”
Daschle is now on arguing that the White House engaged in duplicitous manipulation — but appropriately, Matthews challenged Daschle about the sad fact that John Kerry, Richard Schumer, and other leading Democratic senators argue that still given what they know they’d still vote to give the President the power to go to war against Iraq. Daschle ducked that and said that it is understandable that Senators, in times of crisis, would give the nation’s Commander-in-Chief the benefit of the doubt. But I don’t buy that.
Given what we know today, the Senate should never have empowered President Bush. They need to not only say this — which they aren’t — but need to believe it.
Daschle was the designer of the “Rule 21” plan — and knew that it would be one of the tools that a minority party could use in the absence of subpoena power to get the American public’s attention back on the White House’s abuse and fabrication of WMD intel to justify the Iraq invasion.
Daschle also said that Karl Rove should resign his post — and that he has been bad for the nation and American politics. That is a predictable position — but his clarity is refreshing.
Watch the show — replays at 7 p.m.
— Steve Clemons