A Cautious Man
January 27, 2004
 
He Walks These Empty Rooms Looking for Something to Blame
David Kay is the recently-resigned chief hunter of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. After wandering through Baghdad and environs, Dr. Kay has concluded that it was more of a snipe hunt, than one for anything actually there. His comments, and the implications of that admission, are being discussed all over the place. One thought that I have in all this, is regarding his attempt to fix blame. As reported concerning Dr. Kay's NPR Interview:
U.S. intelligence agencies need to explain why their research indicated that Iraq possessed banned weapons before the American-led invasion, says the outgoing top U.S. inspector, who now thinks Saddam Hussein had no such arms.

"I don't think they exist," David Kay said yesterday. "The fact that we found so far the weapons do not exist, we've got to deal with that difference and understand why."


Asked whether President Bush owed the nation an explanation for the gap between his warnings on banned weapons in Iraq and Mr. Kay's findings, the inspector said: "I actually think the intelligence community owes the president, rather than the president owing the American people."
But, just two weeks ago we were reading Kenneth Pollock's discussion of how we were fooled on the existence or extent of these weapons. As Mr. Pollock stated:
"The intelligence community's overestimation of Iraq's WMD capability is only part of the story of why we went to war last year. The other part involves how the Bush Administration handled the intelligence."
The analysts were being honest, and accurate, in their assessments, but it was the politicians in the Administration who were filtering and spinning in order to build a case for invasion:
"The Administration gave greatest credence to accounts that presented the most lurid picture of Iraqi activities. In many cases intelligence analysts were distrustful of those sources, or knew unequivocally that they were wrong. But when they said so, they were not heeded; instead they were beset with further questions about their own sources."
People, especially those in the press, have to challenge the "blame the analysts" claims of Dr. Kay, or any other Administration official. There should be no question that the blame lies with those who wanted a war, no matter what.

Update on 1/28/04: At least Senator Kennedy, during Dr. Kay's committee testimony, has asked about intelligence assessments which did "get it right", and about statements from intelligence officials that the Administration only wanted evidence which supported its plans. There should be more of this information brought out.

And Senator Warner kept trying to get Dr. Kay to say that Saddam Hussein was an "imminent threat". If that wasn't what the Administration's claim was, why would Senator Warner care about trying to put those words in Dr. Kay's mouth?

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