I will still submit that State of War: The Secret History of the CIA And the Bush Administration by James Risen is a great book, one that I’ve highly recommended. It is simply one of the best books I’ve read about the Bush administration in the last three or four years. I keep referring to that book over and over again. The book recounts a number of scenarios that the CIA tried prior to the invasion of Iraq in order to really delineate whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. One of those efforts focused on an anesthesiologist named Dr. Sawsan Alhaddad. Her brother was a nuclear weapons scientist who worked on weapons of mass destruction for Saddam Hussein. The CIA actually flew her to Baghdad in September 2002. She spoke with her brother in person and on the telephone. He told her in no uncertain terms that there was no nuclear program. In all, the CIA flew more than 30 people to Iraq in order to meet with their family members. All of them came back with the same information, that there were no weapons of mass destruction.
It appears that the intelligence community actually did their jobs. They actually tried to find out the answer. There was no failure of intelligence but a failure of leadership.
From across the pond, Britain’s own MI6 had a meeting with the head of Iraqi intelligence prior to our invasion. Michael Shipster, of MI6, met with the head of Iraqi intelligence, Tahir Jalil Habbush, who gave the British everything that they needed to know. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein was worried about his image in the region. He was also worried about Iran and other competitors in the region. All of this information was immediately passed to the White House. All of this is recounted in Ron Suskind’s book, The Way of the World.
So, the White House “knew” that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction prior to the invasion. They had information from multiple sources which stated that Saddam Hussein was not reconstituting a nuclear, biological or chemical weapons program. Yet we still went to war. Why? Don’t President Bush and Vice President Cheney need to answer this question in front of the American people? With over 4300 Americans dead, shouldn’t Bush and Cheney have to say something to us and to the families of those who have died beause of these actions?
Update from Political Animal:
Fester at Newhoggers links to a set of right-wing bloggers’ predictions for 2003. It’s pretty stunning. For instance:
If we go into Iraq, how many casualties do you expect to see (on the side of the US and our allies)
John Hawkins: “Probably 300 or less”
Charles Johnson:”Very few”
Henry Hanks: “Less than 200”
Laurence Simon: “A Few hundred”
Rachael Lucas: “Less than three thousand”
Scott Ott: “Dozens”
Glenn Reynolds: “Fewer than 100”
Tim Blair: “Below 50”
Ken Layne: “a few hundred”
Steven Den Beste: “50-150”
More from another pre-war interview with Tim Blair:
“John Hawkins: If and when do you see the United States hitting Iraq? How do you think it’ll work out?
Tim Blair: It all depends on Iraq’s fearsome Elite Republican Guard. Why, those feisty desert warriors could hold out for minutes. Dozens of US troops will be required. Perhaps they’ll even need their weapons.”