It was a powerful argument for war made by a politician with long years of experience in the White House.
"(I)ntelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability and his nuclear program," said this national leader.
"(I)f left unchecked," the politician argued, "Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capability to wage biological and chemical warfare and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well, affects American security."
"This much is undisputed," declared this Democrat, as she voted to authorize the war in Iraq.
The question now is: Why did Sen. Hillary Clinton get it so wrong?
Had she -- to use the formulation Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada is now using to attack President Bush -- "manufactured and manipulated intelligence"? Did Hillary lie America into war?
No, she did not.
Sen. Clinton got her bad intelligence the same place President Bush got his: the CIA. Specifically, from George Tenet, the man President Clinton appointed director of central intelligence (DCI).
The entire chain of custody on the intelligence Sen. Clinton used in her Oct. 10, 2002, Senate floor speech ran through Democratic politicians back to a Democrat-appointed DCI.
In 2002, Democrats controlled the Senate, and Democratic Sen. Bob Graham of Florida chaired the intelligence committee. On Sept. 9, 2002, Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois, a member of the intelligence committee, wrote Clinton-appointed Tenet asking for a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq's WMD programs.
NIEs, the intelligence committee later said in its unanimous bipartisan investigative report on Iraq intelligence, "are intended to provide policymakers in both the executive and legislative branches with the best, unvarnished and unbiased information."
An NIE, the committee quoted a CIA document as explaining, "is the director's estimate, and its findings are his."
DCI Tenet was no Bush crony or Republican hack. His career was largely propelled by Democrats. In the mid-1980s, Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont made Tenet his intelligence committee aide. Former Intelligence Chairman David Boren, an Oklahoma Democrat, later made Tenet the committee's staff director. President Clinton named him to his National Security Council staff, then deputy DCI, then DCI.
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