Dear Mr. Rooney,
You ask, in your recent "60 Minutes" commentary, for the president to finally flat-out "explain" why we have troops in Iraq. While busy preparing your commentaries, you perhaps failed to hear the president explain this -- over and over and over again.
Allow me to try.
-- The world changed for many -- apparently not you -- after 9/11.
-- Saddam Hussein violated numerous United Nations resolutions following the first Persian Gulf War. Saddam's military continuously shot at U.S. and British planes patrolling the Northern and Southern No-Fly Zones. He offered $25,000 to families of homicide bombers. We know he possessed chemical and biological weapons because he used them during the Iraq/Iran war, and on his own people, the Kurds.
-- The October '02 National Intelligence Estimate concluded with "high confidence" -- the highest certainty allowed -- that Saddam possessed stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. All 16 intelligence agencies contributing to the NIE unanimously agreed on the chemical and biological weapons assumptions, with disagreement only on how far along Saddam was toward acquiring nukes.
-- Weapons inspectors found no WMD stockpiles, leading many Americans to feel that the president either lied or cherry-picked intelligence to lead us into war. But the Robb-Silverman Commission concluded that the president didn't lie. The bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee's 511-page report concluded that the president did not lie. The British Butler Commission, which examined whether Prime Minister Tony Blair "sexed up" the intelligence to make a case for war, concluded the PM didn't lie.
-- Kenneth Pollack, an opponent of the Iraq war, served as Iraq expert and intelligence analyst in the Clinton administration. Pollack writes that during his 1999-2001 tour on the National Security Council, " . . . the intelligence community convinced me and the rest of the Clinton Administration that Saddam had reconstituted his WMD programs following the withdrawal of the UN inspectors, in 1998, and was only a matter of years away from having a nuclear weapon. . . . The U.S. intelligence community's belief that Saddam was aggressively pursuing weapons of mass destruction pre-dated Bush's inauguration, and therefore cannot be attributed to political pressure. . . . Other nations' intelligence services were similarly aligned with U.S. views. . . . Germany . . . Israel, Russia, Britain, China, and even France held positions similar to that of the United States. . . . In sum, (SET ITAL) no one (END ITAL) doubted that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction."