Jonah Goldberg

By now you've no doubt heard that David Kay, America's top WMD bloodhound, has returned from Iraq to declare that Iraq had no significant stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction immediately prior to the war.

Kay may still turn out to be mistaken; some WMDs or WMD components may have been smuggled out to Lebanon or Syria as some, including Kay, believe. We may find a container buried in the sand somewhere. But even the White House has switched from saying we "will" find WMDs in Iraq to saying "we might."

In other words, if we go by the best information available right now, it appears that George W. Bush was substantively wrong when he told the country that Saddam had stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and that Saddam was well on his way to developing a nuclear weapon.

This is a hugely important fact with grave consequences for the United States and the world. Unfortunately, very few of our political leaders seem willing or able to deal with it in a straightforward manner.

The Democrats deeply deranged by anti-Bush fever insist on making the most damning - and implausible - charge possible: that Bush willfully lied to the American people about Iraq.

As I've tried to demonstrate in this space before, the idea that the president lied to the American people hinges on - at least - one almost impossible fact: that George W. Bush knew for a certainty that the intelligence agencies of America, Britain, France, Germany, Israel, Australia, as well as the United Nations and countless independent experts were all wrong.

Virtually all of the anti-Bush conspiracy theories - most of which contradict each other - depend on the "Bush lied" thesis. But Bush's critics won't let go of this idea, disqualifying themselves from the deadly serious task of dealing with what went wrong.

"Clearly, the intelligence that we went to war on was inaccurate, wrong," David Kay told Tom Brokaw in an interview. "We need to understand why that was. I think if anyone was abused by the intelligence it was the president of the United States rather than the other way around."

For one reason or another - politics and pride no doubt chief among them - the administration refuses to lend credence to this alternative explanation of events. Just this week, while meeting with the president of Poland, George Bush responded to Kay's comments by saying he still has "great confidence" in the intelligence community.

That's awfully compassionate of him, but if what Kay says is true then Bush most emphatically should not have great confidence in the CIA and other intelligence agencies that seem to get things continually wrong.

Jonah Goldberg

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