Warren Strobel and John Wolcott hit a homer with this piece today.
Given President Bush’s predisposition in the Summer of 2002 to go to war before the intelligence on WMDs and Iraq had really come in (around October 2002), it is not surprising that Bolton demonstrated the same patterns of behavior. What is impressive and important is that other parts of the government bureaucracy tried to resist the wrong-headed direction Bolton was heading.
Here are the key grafs:
A highly classified British memo indicates President Bush apparently decided to overthrow Saddam Hussein by summer 2002 and was determined to ensure U.S. intelligence data supported his policy.
The leaked document summarizes a July 23, 2002, meeting of British Prime Minister Tony Blair with his top security advisers. It reports on a visit to Washington by the chief of Britain’s MI6 intelligence service.
“There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable,” the MI6 chief said at the meeting, according to the memo. “Bush wanted to remove Saddam through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD (weapons of mass destruction).”
The memo said “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”
No weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq since the U.S. invasion in March 2003.
The White House has repeatedly denied accusations it manipulated intelligence estimates to justify an invasion. It has pointed to the conclusions of two studies that cite failures by agencies in judging Hussein’s weapons programs.
The principal U.S. intelligence analysis was not completed until October 2002.
We had an understandable political culture of paranoia, which clearly affected Bolton and probably informed and catalyzed him to do many of the questionable things he did. But that doesn’t mean such errors in judgment and performance should be rewarded.
People need to be reminded that of all the intelligence operations operating in the sprawling U.S. government, it was the State Department’s Intelligence & Research Bureau (INR) which was most accurate. Bolton beat up INR, worked around the bureau, harassed the analysts, cherry-picked intelligence that came from the CIA or other sources. INR deserves the credit and praise.
Bolton got nothing right but doing it wrong in the name of the President.
— Steve Clemons
(ed. note: Thanks to J.R. for alerting me to this piece.)