Day By Day

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Lies of the Left -- The "Bush Lied" Canard

Doug Feith's new book "War and Decision" addresses one of the most important elements of the Left's carefully constructed narrative on the Bush administration and the war in Iraq. That narrative holds that the Bush administration, determined to make war on Iraq, invented a claim that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction and pressured intelligence services to uphold that claim. Feith's book, based on primary sources and his personal experience of the leadup to war, pretty much disposes of the charge that "Bush Lied, People Died." And it is not just Feith who disputes the Left's narrative. Michael Barone notes that the administration's assumptions were justified:

as the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Silberman-Robb Commission have concluded already. Every intelligence agency believed Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, and the post-invasion Duelfer report concluded that he maintained the capability to produce them on short notice. There was abundant evidence of contacts between Saddam's regime and al-Qaida and other terrorist groups. Given Saddam's hostility to the United States and his stonewalling of the United Nations, American leaders had every reason to believe he posed a grave threat. Removing him removed that threat.
And regarding another major criticism of the occupation Barone writes:

Feith identifies as our central mistake the decision not to create an Iraqi Interim Authority to take over some sovereign functions soon after the overthrow of Saddam. Bush ordered the creation of such an authority March 10, 2003. But it was resisted by State Department and CIA leaders, who argued that Iraqis would not trust "externals" -- those in exile -- and who were especially determined to keep the Iraqi National Congress' Ahmed Chalabi from power. As head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, Paul Bremer took the State-CIA view and, without much supervision from Washington, decided that the U.S. occupation would continue for as long as two years. Only deft negotiation by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld produced a June 30, 2004, deadline for returning authority to Iraqis. The January 2005 elections placed many of the "externals," including Chalabi, in high office.
Read it here.

The key point in this second observation is the systematic undermining of administration policy by State Department officials and intelligence professionals, and the interagency warfare that obstructed efforts to deal effectively with Iraq. I suspect that as relatively unpoliticized accounts of the Iraq conflict begin to emerge in the next few decades, this will become a major theme.


Feith now has a website at which he discusses the "misconceptions" bandied about by leftists and the MSM regarding the decision-making process that took us to war in Iraq.

Check it out here.