By Congressman John Conyers
When the Downing Street Minutes began to gain some notoriety in May and June, the President and Prime Minister Blair answered a question about them briefly. Interestingly, both seemed to want to spend the most time talking about the minutes' contention that the President had always intended to go to war (despite the President's public pronouncements to the contrary). That was a smart thing to do, in a political sense, because the President's state of mind is a much more difficult allegation to prove, requiring subjective interpretations of the President's actions.
The contention they seemed inclined to avoid entirely was the minutes' claim that the intelligence and facts were being "fixed" around the policy. Only Blair briefly responded to that allegation by saying: "No, the facts were not being fixed in any shape or form at all." Whether that is true or not in the case of the British government remains to be seen. It is certainly false in the case of the actions of the United States government.
How were the intelligence and facts being fixed? We are starting to see the tip of the iceberg. There is, of course, Joe Wilson. A career public servant, he had the audacity to come back from Niger to tell this Administration news they did not want to hear: claims that Saddam Hussain was trying to acquire uranium from Africa were false (and based on obvious forgeries). So they went after him by outing his wife's identity as a covert CIA operative. Thus, the facts and intelligence were being fixed around the policy of going to war --- the method: ignoring information that conflicted with the preferred narrative that Saddam Hussain had WMD and smearing anyone who espoused such heresy in the hopes that the smear would deter other whistleblowers from coming forward.
Now, in today's New York Times comes another allegation of fixing the facts and intelligence around the policy. The lead paragraph:
"The Central Intelligence Agency was told by an informant in the spring of 2001 that Iraq had abandoned a major element of its nuclear weapons program, but the agency did not share the information with other agencies or with senior policy makers, a former C.I.A. officer has charged."
"The officer, an employee at the agency for more than 20 years, including several years in a clandestine unit assigned to gather intelligence related to illicit weapons, was fired in 2004.
In his lawsuit, he says his dismissal was punishment for his reports questioning the agency's assumptions on a series of weapons-related matters. Among other things, he charged that he had been the target of retaliation for his refusal to go along with the agency's intelligence conclusions."
Sounds familiar doesn't it?
(Cross-posted at ConyersBlog)