Like it or not, Republicans are going to keep hearing President Bush being accused of lying to us about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq for another three years. And Senate Democrats are going to keep being reminded that they, too, were convinced Saddam Hussein had such weapons. Yet the plain truth is that none of these gentlemen lied. They were lied to -- by the CIA. But how were they so easily fooled?
In a Washington Times op-ed, former Sen. Bob Graham of Florida complained that the abbreviated 29-page public version of the October 2002 CIA report on Iraq's WMD was purged of many skeptical footnotes in the original 90-page version. Yet Graham nonetheless said at the time that he believed Iraq had such weapons, as did other Democratic senators, such as Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and John Edwards of North Carolina.
The real scandal is not that these senators or the president lied when they all agreed Iraq had fearsome stockpiles of mysterious weapons. The real scandal is that they were all so gullible as to be taken in by such an obvious CIA deception.
In June 2003, in "Intelligence Without Brains," I wrote, "The senators should have read the CIA report last October, and not just the summary." Many irate critics then questioned my own intelligence, but not one pretended to have bothered to read the report. Why not? It can be easily downloaded at www.odci.gov/cia/reports.
The first two pages of that WMD story were called "key judgments," though there was no judgment and little intelligence. All the strong conclusions appear on these first pages, followed by ample waffling. The second sentence flatly asserts that "Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons."
The second page says, "Iraq has some lethal and incapacitating BW (biological weapon) agents and is capable of quickly producing and weaponizing a variety of such agents, including anthrax, for delivery by bombs, missiles, aerial sprayers and covert operatives, including potentially against the U.S. homeland."
If you think that says Iraq actually had any anthrax, you were fooled. If you think it says Iraq actually had any method of delivering "agents" to the U.S. homeland, you were fooled twice.
The second page did claim Iraq has "mobile facilities" to produce nameless biological weapons. Since they couldn't find anything, something horrible must be happening inside invisible gypsy wagons.