Jonah Goldberg

In response, George Packer, a prominent liberal hawk, says, "Ken Pollack should be congratulated: How many leading voices on this issue have subjected themselves to such honest criticism? What he got wrong he got wrong because the intelligence was mistaken. What the administration got wrong it got wrong because it didn't care about the intelligence."

This encapsulates pretty much everything that's wrong with even the White House's most respected critics: a nearly total inability to consider the possibility that this administration operated in good faith.

Packer says Pollack's mistake was based on the best intelligence available; however, Bush & Co are a bunch of bloodthirsty ideologues or greedy liars or both.

Unfortunately, there are too many anti-Bush slanders out there to count, let alone debunk, but they are all premised on the "fact" that Bush lied.

But nobody has made a remotely persuasive case that Bush lied. The German, Russian, French, Israeli, British, Chinese and U.S. governments all agreed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. The German assessment was even more dire than our own. They were convinced Saddam would have a nuclear weapon by 2005.

Bill Clinton and his entire administration believed Saddam had WMDs. In 2002 Robert Einhorn, Clinton's point man on WMDs, testified to Congress, "Today, or at most within a few months, Iraq could launch missile attacks with chemical or biological weapons against its neighbors" including our 100,000 troops in Saudi Arabia.

The threat - chemical, biological and nuclear - against U.S. territory proper was only a few years away, according to Einhorn. Dick Gephardt, Tom Daschle, John Kerry, Wesley Clark, Joe Lieberman, Tony Blair, Hillary Clinton, Jacques Chirac, Gerhard Schroeder: all of these people believed Iraq had major stockpiles of WMDs.

Were they all "liars" like President Bush? No? Why not?

You can't have it both ways. You can't say Bush lied while others who said the same thing were being honest. The White House was operating with fundamentally identical information to that of Clinton, Pollack and Einhorn. What was different was that this White House needed to deal with the post-9/11 world.

Maybe that clouded Bush's judgment - or opened his eyes. Let's have that argument. I certainly believe mistakes were made (though I still believe the war was right and just). But if you start from Kennedy's premise that the WMD thing was made up, I can't take you seriously.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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