Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Democrats' New Political Threat to U.S. Security

We have been through this time and time again.

The left and its media allies cannot accept that the country's leaders, especially those leaders with a Democrat "D" near their name, found it necessary to authorize the use force in the war the Islamic extremists continue to wage against us.

The left's solution has been to fabricate a myth that we were "mislead" into war. Despite the fact that no less than three exhaustive reviews have completely discredited this mythical lie, last week the Democrat controlled Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by West Virginia Democrat John D. Rockefeller IV, tried to try and rewrite history and thereby breath new life into this despicable myth.

As a few Democrats realize, success in Iraq will be a problem for the Democrats. Now that the success of the surge is being recognized by the press, if not the Democrat's standard bearer, those that once supported the war but switched positions with the prevailing political winds are growing desperate. The only way those Democrats who once supported the war, and thereby offended the Democrats' agenda-setting antiwar left-wingers, can see to hold onto power is to blame their support for the war on being mislead.

Fred Hiatt takes a look at Rockefeller's new report revised history and finds Rockefeller has not yet accomplished the left's mission. Hiatt explains that if you bother to read Rockefeller's new report revised history you will find that it fails to support Rockefeller's assertion that the "administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when it was unsubstantiated, contradicted or even nonexistent:"

On Iraq's nuclear weapons program? The president's statements "were generally substantiated by intelligence community estimates."

On biological weapons, production capability and those infamous mobile laboratories? The president's statements "were substantiated by intelligence information."

On chemical weapons, then? "Substantiated by intelligence information."

On weapons of mass destruction overall (a separate section of the intelligence committee report)? "Generally substantiated by intelligence information." Delivery vehicles such as ballistic missiles? "Generally substantiated by available intelligence." Unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to deliver WMDs? "Generally substantiated by intelligence information."

As you read through the report, you begin to think maybe you've mistakenly picked up the minority dissent. But, no, this is the Rockefeller indictment. So, you think, the smoking gun must appear in the section on Bush's claims about Saddam Hussein's alleged ties to terrorism.

But statements regarding Iraq's support for terrorist groups other than al-Qaeda "were substantiated by intelligence information." Statements that Iraq provided safe haven for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and other terrorists with ties to al-Qaeda "were substantiated by the intelligence assessments," and statements regarding Iraq's contacts with al-Qaeda "were substantiated by intelligence information." The report is left to complain about "implications" and statements that "left the impression" that those contacts led to substantive Iraqi cooperation.

It is peculiar that it is Rockefeller who is now pushing the Bush Lied myth. Peculiar, because it was
Rockefeller, who said in October 2002 that the threat from Iraq was imminent:
"There has been some debate over how 'imminent' a threat Iraq poses. I do believe Iraq poses an imminent threat. I also believe after September 11, that question is increasingly outdated. . . . To insist on further evidence could put some of our fellow Americans at risk. Can we afford to take that chance? I do not think we can."

The committee's vice chairman, Senator Christopher Bond, along with three other Republican senators filed a minority dissent and assert that they were cut out of the report's preparation, allowing for a great deal of skewing and partisanship, but that even so, "the reports essentially validate what we have been saying all along: that policymakers' statements were substantiated by the intelligence."

Let us again review the facts, at least the way history stood before Rockefeller's attempt at rewriting history.

HISTORY (Before It Was Rewritten)

Again, no fewer than three exhaustive reviews have determined that we were not mislead into war.

The Bipartisan Senate Select Committee Report On The U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments On Iraq found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs. At pages 284-285 the report states:

Conclusion 83. The Committee did not find any evidence that Administration officials attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to change their judgments related to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities.


Conclusion 84. The Committee found no evidence that the Vice President's visits to the Central Intelligence Agency were attempts to pressure analysts, were perceived as intended to pressure analysts by those who participated in the briefings on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs, or did pressure analysts to change their assessments.

The Robb-Silberman Commission On The Intelligence Capabilities Of The United States Regarding Weapons Of Mass Destruction likewise found "no evidence of political pressure." At pages 50-51 the Robb-Silberman report states:

The Commission found no evidence of political pressure to influence the Intelligence Community's pre-war assessments of Iraq's weapons programs. As we discuss in detail in the body of our report, analysts universally asserted that in no instance did political pressure cause them to skew or alter any of their analytical judgments. We conclude that it was the paucity of intelligence and poor analytical tradecraft, rather than political pressure, that produced the inaccurate pre-war intelligence assessments.

The British Butler Report, Review Of Intelligence On Weapons Of Mass Destruction similarly "found no evidence of deliberate distortion." At page 110 the British Butler report states:

Treatment of intelligence material

449. In general, we found that the original intelligence material was correctly reported in [Joint Intelligence Committee] assessments. An exception was the '45 minute' report. But this sort of example was rare in the several hundred JIC assessments we read on Iraq. In general, we also found that the reliability of the original intelligence reports was fairly represented by the use of accompanying qualifications. We should record in particular that we have found no evidence of deliberate distortion or of culpable negligence.

The effect of departmental policy agendas

450. We examined JIC assessments to see whether there was evidence that the judgments inside them were systematically distorted by non-intelligence factors, in particular the influence of the policy positions of departments. We found no evidence of JIC assessments and the judgments inside them being pulled in any particular direction to meet the policy concerns of senior officials on the JIC.


In the Committee's rewritten history, according to the New York Times the new report "concluded" that President Bush "and his aides built the public case for war against Iraq by exaggerating available intelligence and by ignoring disagreements among spy agencies about Iraq's weapons programs and Saddam Hussein's links to Al Qaeda:"
In a statement accompanying the report, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, the West Virginia Democrat who is chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said: “The president and his advisers undertook a relentless public campaign in the aftermath of the attacks to use the war against Al Qaeda as a justification for overthrowing Saddam Hussein.”
That's funny in the peculiar sort of way.

MORE HISTORY (Before It Was Rewritten)

Here is what Rockefeller and other Democrats said before the history was rewritten:

SEN. JAY ROCKFELLER (D-WV): "There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons. And will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years. We also should remember we have always underestimated the progress that Saddam Hussein has been able to make in the development of weapons of mass destruction." (Sen. John Rockefeller, Congressional Record, S.10306, 10/10/02)

SEN. EVAN BAYH (D-IN): "Bill, I support the president's efforts to disarm Saddam Hussein. I think he was right on in his speech tonight. The lessons we learned following September 11 were that we can't wait to be attacked again, particularly when it involves weapons of mass destruction. So regrettably, Saddam has not done the right thing, which is to disarm, and we're left with no alternative but to take action." (Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor," 3/17/03)

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D-DE): "We know he continues to attempt to gain access to additional capability, including nuclear capability." (NBC's "Meet The Press," 8/4/02)

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D-MI): "[Saddam] has ignored the mandates of the United Nations, is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them." (Committee On Armed Services, U.S. Senate, Hearing, 09/19/02)

SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD (D-WI): "With regard to Iraq, I agree, Iraq presents a genuine threat, especially in the form of weapons of mass destruction, chemical, biological, and potentially nuclear weapons. I agree that Saddam Hussein is exceptionally dangerous and brutal, if not uniquely so, as the president argues." (Sen. Russell Feingold [D-WI], Congressional Record, S.10147, 10/9/02)

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D-CA): "The weapons they [Iraq] have are a threat to the world. And mister president, the world must respond." (Sen. Barbara Boxer, Congressional Record, 10/10/02, p. S10252)

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): "Saddam Hussein, in effect, has thumbed his nose at the world community. And I think that the President's approaching this in the right fashion." (CNN's "Inside Politics," 09/18/02)

SEN. HILLARY CLNTON (D-NY): "It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, 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." (Sen. Clinton, Congressional Record, S.10288, 10/10/02)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA): "According to the CIA's report, all U.S. intelligence experts agree that Iraq is seeking nuclear weapons. There is little question that Saddam Hussein wants to develop nuclear weapons." (Sen. Kerry, Congressional Record, S.10172-3, 10/09/02)

SEN. CHRIS DODD (D-CT): "There is no question that Iraq possesses biological and chemical weapons and that he seeks to acquire additional weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. That is not in debate." (Sen. Dodd, Congressional Record, S.10177, 10/09/02)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): "Saddam Hussein is an evil man, a dictator who oppresses his people and flouts the mandate of the international community. While this behavior is reprehensible, it is Hussein's vigorous pursuit of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, and his present and potential future support for terrorist acts and organizations, that make him a terrible danger to the people to the United States." (Sen. Schumer, Congressional Record, S.10302, 10/10/02)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): "As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I am keenly aware that the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons is an issue of grave importance to all nations. Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process." (Rep. Pelosi, Press Release, 12/16/98)

The consensus that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction formed in the Clinton administration. The consensus was more than evident in 1998, when President Clinton was threatening to attack Iraq.

President Clinton:
If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons-of-mass-destruction program.

Secretary of State Madeline Albright:

"We must stop Saddam from ever again jeopardizing the stability and security of his neighbors with weapons of mass destruction," Albright said Sunday, addressing a news conference in Jerusalem.

"The chemical weapons Saddam has used and the biological weapons we know he has tested pay no attention to borders and nationalities."


The Democrats have tried to politicize intelligence before. In January 2003, during the Senate's battle over how much money will go to each party to pay for committee staff, Senate Democrats successfully insisted on changing the staffing structure of the Select Committee on Intelligence. The Democrats’ change divided the committee's staff into two groups, reporting separately to the panel's Republican chairman and Democratic vice chairman.

In a prescient moment, Senator Pat Roberts (R. Kansas), then the incoming chair of the Committee, warned:
"We should preserve our Intelligence Committee staff as a single unified staff that works for the committee as a whole under the supervision of the chairman and the vice chairman. The minority apparently wishes to divide the committee staff for the first time in history into majority — minority or partisan camps."

Jim Geraghty wrote:

Roberts said the panel has been a unique institution in the Senate and was envisioned from its start in 1976 to operate under different rules than other committees. He contends the committee has worked well and effectively with a professional nonpartisan staff as originally intended and should continue to do so.

The committee has made no comparable change in its history. When the committee was formed in 1976, members were allowed to nominate one staff member each to be placed on the panel's payroll and handle that member's committee issues. But over time, it became clear that the staffers felt a greater sense of loyalty to their sponsoring member rather than to the committee as an institution, and according to committee reports, some staffers worked on non-intelligence issues for their member. That system was scrapped at the beginning of the first session of the 104th Congress, and replaced with a system where staffers were assigned to work with specific senators on intelligence-related work.

By the end of 2003, it was revealed that the Democrats had gone even further in their efforts to politicizing intelligence. A leaked memo caught the Democrats plotting to use classified information against President Bush in the 2004 presidential campaign. The contents of the memo, drafted by the Senate Intelligence Committee's Democratic staff and reported by Fox News, can be found here.

You probably remember Democratic Senator Zell Miller's "Heads should roll" reaction:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Zell Miller (D-GA) today released the following statement concerning a memo written by Democratic staff on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that suggests ways to politicize intelligence data:

I have often said that the process in Washington is so politicized and polarized that it can’t even be put aside when we’re at war. Never has that been proved more true than the highly partisan and perhaps treasonous memo prepared for the Democrats on the Intelligence Committee.

Of all the committees, this is the one single committee that should unquestionably be above partisan politics. The information it deals with should never, never be distorted, compromised or politicized in any shape, form or fashion. For it involves the lives of our soldiers and our citizens. Its actions should always be above reproach; its words never politicized.

If what has happened here is not treason, it is its first cousin. The ones responsible - be they staff or elected or both should be dealt with quickly and severely sending a lesson to all that this kind of action will not be tolerated, ignored or excused.

Heads should roll!”

Former Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey, who served as vice-chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, was critical of this attempt to politicize intelligence. In an article entitled “A Political Threat to U.S. Security,” Kerrey wrote:

The production of a memo by an employee of a Democratic member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is an example of the destructive side of partisan politics. That it probably emerged as a consequence of an increasingly partisan environment in Washington and may have been provoked by equally destructive Republican acts is neither a comfort nor a defensible rationalization.

It is small comfort because the House and Senate intelligence oversight committees were established 30 years ago expressly and explicitly to be a unique refuge from the destructive forces of partisan politics. Keeping these committees non-partisan is vital for the nation's security because much of what is done to collect, process and disseminate intelligence needed by civilian and military leaders is done under conditions of rigorously regulated secrecy.

The Democrats have politicized intelligence before. They didn't get away with it in 2003 and they shouldn't get away with it now just because they attempt to do so under the guise of a poorly rewritten history.

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