Bush Administration Withheld WMD Intelligence

Ken AshfordBush & Co., IraqLeave a Comment

One of the wingnut talking points re: Iraq is that Congress had access to the same pre-war intelligence as the White House, so they are just as much to blame as Bush for the no-WMD-in-Iraq fiasco.

Not true.  Not true.  That talking point is now officially dead.  The Bush Administration not only failed to fully inform Congress of all the intelligence it had, but it failed to inform Congress after-the-fact in order to shift blame to "faulty intelligence".

The National Journal is reporting that Cheney and soon-to-be-indicted Libby were responsible for the decision to withhold critical documents from the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2004 while it was investigating pre-war WMD intelligence claims, in an attempt to deflect accusations that the administration distorted intelligence data to lie the country into war.

Vice President Cheney and his chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby , overruling advice from some White House political staffers and lawyers, decided to withhold crucial documents from the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2004 when the panel was investigating the use of pre-war intelligence that erroneously concluded Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, according to Bush administration and congressional sources.

Among the White House materials withheld from the committee were Libby-authored passages in drafts of a speech that then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell delivered to the United Nations in February 2003 to argue the Bush administration’s case for war with Iraq, according to congressional and administration sources. The withheld documents also included intelligence data that Cheney’s office — and Libby in particular — pushed to be included in Powell’s speech, the sources said.


The Intelligence Committee at the time was trying to determine whether the CIA and other intelligence agencies provided faulty or erroneous intelligence on Iraq to President Bush and other government officials. But the committee deferred the much more politically sensitive issue as to whether the president and the vice president themselves, or other administration officials, misrepresented intelligence information to bolster the case to go to war. An Intelligence Committee spokesperson says the panel is still working on this second phase of the investigation.

Had the withheld information been turned over, according to administration and congressional sources, it likely would have shifted a portion of the blame away from the intelligence agencies to the Bush administration as to who was responsible for the erroneous information being presented to the American public, Congress, and the international community.