Remember in 1991 the agencies were stunned to discover how advanced Iraq's nuclear program was. Just in the last year, they were shocked by how advanced Iran and Libya's nuclear and/or WMD programs are. This isn't the sort of stuff we can afford to be getting wrong these days. People need to be fired.
Now I can sympathize with the White House and Congressional Republicans. The prospect of an investigation into why the intelligence was so wrong would no doubt be a carnival of political grandstanding in an election year. Why invite that kind of chaos when you don't have to? Answer: Because it's the right thing for America. And just because a bunch of self-serving presidential wannabes are for it, doesn't mean you have to be against it.
Meanwhile, the president's most shrill critics should keep in mind that if they don't make a constructive effort to get our intelligence agencies in order the two most likely consequences will be 1) a horrendous WMD attack on the United States and/or 2) another Iraq-style war.
The potential for scenario No. 1 is obvious. If we don't have the ability to reliably spot threats on the horizon, those threats will sail right over the horizon - and into our laps. The possibility for another war should be clear as well. If we're not sure about the threat from an Iran or North Korea, many Americans would rather err on the side thwarting it on their turf than absorbing it on ours.
Indeed, those are just some of the points Bush should be making in his defense. In the post-9/11 world, when the Iraq sanctions regime was falling apart, President Bush had two basic options: put his faith and trust in his own and his allies' intelligence agencies or in the promises of a truly warmongering madman who'd twice before pursued nuclear weapons and used other WMDs on his own people. Maybe Karl Rove doesn't think so, but I think that Bush made the winning, and right, choice.
For the record, I never considered the WMD issue to be that critical to the case for toppling Saddam. President Bush, however, did. Running away from it will only strengthen the resolve of his critics and weaken the country in the process.
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