Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson wants to impeach President Bush. In arguing that point, he asked Fox News' Bill O'Reilly on Tuesday, "Have you seen the National Intelligence Estimate that was provided in October of 2002, in which the intelligence agency under the State Department said that Iraq was not building up a nuclear capability, that this whole story about the aluminum tubes (reportedly sought by Saddam Hussein in Niger) was completely off base?"
I decided to re-read the NIE excerpts that the administration released. What does the report say? "Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons as well as missiles with ranges in excess of U.N. restrictions; if left unchecked, it probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade." The NIE also reported that Iraq had "expanded its chemical and biological infrastructure under the cover of civilian production," that Baghdad had renewed production of mustard and sarin gases, and that Iraqi missiles could threaten the "U.S. homeland."
Yes, the NIE key judgments reported that some officials in the State Department did not believe Saddam Hussein was pursuing a "comprehensive approach to acquire nuclear weapons." But the report also noted that, "Most agencies assess that Baghdad started reconstituting its nuclear program about the time that (U.N. weapons) inspectors departed -- December 1998."
So let us review the Bush-lied argument that Anderson and other war critics espouse. They say Bush lied about WMD, when, in fact, America's best intelligence presented no doubt about Iraq having chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction. And according to the NIE, most intelligence agencies also believed Iraq had been working on nukes for four years.
Here's another point that the Bush-lied misinformation campaign has forgotten. While war critics point to Bush's inclusion of this sentence -- "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa" -- in his 2003 State of the Union Address as proof that Bush misled the country into war, Bush uttered those words three months after Congress voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq.
Bush Lied is the Big Lie. It takes the controversy over one aspect of U.S. intelligence on Iraq's WMD -- the nuclear program question -- to argue that the whole WMD argument was bogus. That is, the president's accusers are guilty of the very sort of dishonest selectivity that they accuse Bush of using.
Now the Bush-lied lie is boomeranging on those Democratic presidential hopefuls -- Sens. Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Christopher Dodd and former Sen. John Edwards -- who voted in favor of the Iraq war resolution.