Bush Was Told “No Imminent Threat” Before Iraq War

Ken AshfordBush & Co., IraqLeave a Comment

Murray Waas at the National Journal reports today that Bush was specifically told in advance of the Iraq war, via two reports, that:

(1) There was disagreement about the aluminum tubes/nuclear program issue:

Among other things, the report stated that the Energy Department and the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research believed that the tubes were "intended for conventional weapons," a view disagreeing with that of other intelligence agencies, including the CIA, which believed that the tubes were intended for a nuclear bomb.

The disclosure that Bush was informed of the DOE and State dissents is the first evidence that the president himself knew of the sharp debate within the government over the aluminum tubes during the time that he, Cheney, and other members of the Cabinet were citing the tubes as clear evidence of an Iraqi nuclear program. Neither the president nor the vice president told the public about the disagreement among the agencies.

(2) Saddam lacked the means to attack the US directly or through Al Qaeda:

The second classified report, delivered to Bush in early January 2003, was also a summary of a National Intelligence Estimate, this one focusing on whether Saddam would launch an unprovoked attack on the United States, either directly, or indirectly by working with terrorists.

The report stated that U.S. intelligence agencies unanimously agreed that it was unlikely that Saddam would try to attack the United States — except if "ongoing military operations risked the imminent demise of his regime" or if he intended to "extract revenge" for such an assault, according to records and sources.

Bush was informed of these assessments from the intelligence community itself, including George Tenet.

I’m not sure if Waas’ story is entirely new, but it certainly dovetails nicely with the Katrina video story, i.e., what Bush was told beforehand doesn’t jibe with what Bush told us.

UPDATE:  As The Left Coaster points out, Bush was aware of these assessments BEFORE his 2003 State of the Union speech in which he said:

Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of Al Qaida. Secretly, and without fingerprints, he could provide one of his hidden weapons to terrorists, or help them develop their own.

Before September the 11th, many in the world believed that Saddam Hussein could be contained. But chemical agents, lethal viruses and shadowy terrorist networks are not easily contained.

Imagine those 19 hijackers with other weapons and other plans, this time armed by Saddam Hussein. It would take one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known.