Paul Greenberg

In the event you haven't noticed, it's a presidential election year. You can tell by the ever-growing flurry of conspiracy theories - not just delicious new ones like Barack Obama's being some kind of Manchurian Candidate for Jihad Inc., but old ones that, even if they've grown stale and wormy by now, can be pulled off the shelf and re-issued as a brand-new congressional report. Like the 170-page piece of work just out of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The precarious burden of this report is that the evil crew in the White House systematically exaggerated the threat that Saddam Hussein's regime posed by tilting the intelligence available at the time and overlooking views that didn't fit in with its lust for war.

But this horse-choker of report doesn't tell the half of it, for the sinister neocon cabal behind the invasion of Iraq was even wider than the Democratic majority of this Senate committee lets on. The public record is replete with dire warnings about those elusive weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein was supposed to be preparing, and Innocent Reader might be surprised at some of their sources. For example:

"We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandates of the United Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them." -Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, September 19, 2002.

Sen. Levin may now be demanding that President Bush set a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, but he can't fool us. He was clearly part of this pro-war plot.

Similar statements abound from the likes of prominent Democrats who would go to attack the Bush White House for having misled the country into war, among them Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Robert Byrd. Goodness. They must all have been in on the plot. That ranch house outside Crawford, Tex., where Ted Kennedy once told us the war was hatched, must have been awfully crowded.

There are those who portray all these co-conspirators as just innocent victims of intelligence reports manipulated by the Bush administration and carefully fed to innocents like John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and so many other Washington types known for their simple naivete.

Unfortunately for that theory, one bipartisan investigation after another into the collection and interpretation of prewar intelligence has found no evidence of such manipulation.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.