The Senate intelligence report released today is a whitewash for the White House. The report is a lame attempt by the Republican-controlled Senate to absolve the Bush administration – and specifically the president and vice president – of responsibility for manipulating and misusing intelligence in making the case for an optional war in Iraq.
The good news is that the American public won’t be fooled. As recent polls demonstrate, an astonishing 80 percent of those polled say that George Bush was either hiding information or lying about the reasons he took us to war in Iraq.
While the committee is right that we must modernize and strengthen the intelligence community, this report leaves out critical information. It is no coincidence that the most potentially damning conclusions about the administration will be delayed until after the election. When you only look at half the information, you're bound to get half-truths.
Despite the demands of committee members, the Republican leadership limited the scope of the inquiry. There is no mention of the role of the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans – Vice President Dick Cheney's personal intelligence service – nor is there anything about the role of top officials in paying Ahmed Chalabi millions of dollars to deliver false intelligence.
Of course, none of this should come as a surprise. Let's not forget that, no matter what the intelligence told them, George Bush and his posse were bound and determined to go to war in Iraq.
There is no doubt that our intelligence was stale, incomplete and in some cases outright false. But the most important question is who used the intelligence and for what purpose.
The American people accept that deposing Saddam will help Iraqis in the long run. But reports like this will not change Americans' minds that the invasion was a mistake, they were misled by the president, and we are less secure today because of it. Beyond intelligence, that’s a failure of policy and leadership.
Robert O. Boorstin is senior vice president for national security at the Center for American Progress.