Cheney, Iraq, and ‘wrong’ intel

CHENEY, IRAQ, AND ‘WRONG’ INTEL…. It’s not entirely surprising that Bush and Cheney still refuse to take responsibility for their tragic Iraq misjudgments, and continue to spin what transpired when it came to the Iraq-related intelligence, but that doesn’t make it any more palatable.

Last month, it was the president, lamenting the “intelligence failure in Iraq,” and wishing the “intelligence had been different.” Bush, of course, conveniently overlooked the inconvenient details, such as the entirely accurate intelligence that he ignored because it didn’t tell him what he wanted to hear.

Yesterday, it was vice president’s turn, who talked about the Iraq intelligence in an entirely different way.

In an interview with CBS “Face the Nation” on Sunday morning, Cheney continued to offer a stout defense of the Bush legacy in Iraq, even though like other administration officials he conceded problems with WMD intelligence.

“The original intelligence was wrong, no question about it,” Cheney said on the show. “But there were parts of it that were right. It wasn’t 100 percent wrong. It was correct in saying he had the technology. It was correct in saying he still had the people who knew how to build weapons of mass destruction. I think it was also correct in the assessment that once sanctions came off, he would go back to doing what he had been doing before.

“Where it was wrong was said he had stockpiles, and he clearly didn’t,” Cheney said. “So the intelligence was flawed.”

Cheney may be poised to leave office, but it’s good to see he hasn’t stopped trying to improve his game when it comes to misleading the public.

The vice president would no doubt prefer that we forget the recent history, but the reality is much of the pre-war intelligence was entirely right — evidence, for example, from the State Department’s INR Bureau happened to tell the White House the exact truth, so it was quickly discarded.

Worse, when weapons inspectors reported that they could find no evidence of WMD stockpiles, Blix and others urged the administration to offer contrary evidence. Bush and Cheney not only refused, they rewrote the intelligence to suit the administration’s purposes and then launched a misguided invasion.

Cheney, looking to avoid blame for a catastrophe, insisted yesterday that the “original intelligence was wrong.” But Cheney has the situation backwards — there was original intelligence that was right, but Cheney chose to pretend it didn’t exist.

If you watched “Face the Nation,” you know that Bob Schieffer didn’t exactly press Cheney on this point. Greg Sargent recently explained why this always seems to happen.

One overlooked thing about this is that not only Bush, but many supporters of the war — Dems and liberal hawks included — also have a vested interest in pretending that the good intel never existed and those inspectors never said what they said. Those inconvenient historical facts reflect rather badly on them, too. With so many opinion-makers having vested interests of their own in telling the story this way, history has been tidily rewritten, and Bush is able to make this claim without a peep of objection from his big-time network interviewer.

Cheney, apparently, believes he can get away with it, too.