James Joyner has already written most of what I would have written about the report from The Center for Public Integrity cataloguing the erroneous statements about Iraq made by various members of the Bush Administration in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
My strong suspicion, though, is that Rumsfeld knew that an unequivocal “Sure” overstated the case. This, I think, reflects the consensus view of all but the most rabid pro- or anti-Bush observers that the administration 1) thought Saddam was dangerous, 2) believed he had an active WMD program if not WMD possession, 3) feared Saddam would transfer said technology to terrorists and other enemies of the United States and 4) cherry picked information that bolstered their case for action while downplaying dissenting views and evidence.
I didn’t vote for George Bush in 2000. If I’d been in the Senate in 2002, I wouldn’t have voted for the Authorization to Use Military Force and I think the protestations of those who did and came to regret their decisions are absurd on their faces. We elect senators to make hard decisions not to bend any which way the wind blows. If their just fell off of the turnip truck explanations for their votes are true, they shouldn’t be senators at all.
If I’d been the president in 2003, I wouldn’t have ordered the invasion of Iraq if for no other reason than that I thought it was a political blunder. The invasion would (obviously to me at least) be followed by a lengthy, expensive, and painful occupation and I didn’t believe that the American people had the patience for that and didn’t understand that’s what they were signing up for.
A lie has three components. First, the statement made must be untrue. Second, the person making the statement must know it is untrue. Third, there must be an intention to deceive.
The report from the CPI, at least judging by what I’ve read of it, devotes an enormous amount of space to the first component, listing more than 900 statements now known or believed to be untrue although, as James points out in his post, a number of those remain contentious. I wish they’d produced more that demonstrated the remaining two components.
I’ve read a half dozen posts in the blogosphere this morning in reaction to the report condemning the lies of the Bush Administration. The irony of the statement is that those making it are using precisely the same approach used by the Bush Administration: they’re going beyond what the report says and voting their hearts, saying what they believe to be true rather than what can be proven to be true. The difference is that the Bush Administration bears the burden of responsibility.
One more point: the report takes journalists to task for failing to examine the statements made by various members of the Bush Administration more critically. In my view that’s one of the enormous weaknesses of the wholesale distribution model of newsgathering, particularly national and international newsgathering, that’s in use today. A failure in the centralized newsgathering mechanisms is proliferated through the entire system with incredible facility.