For the latter part of my career, I served as senior intelligence officer. Our command was principally the U.S. Army Developmental Test Command, and our mission included chemical, biological and nuclear defense. We had access to the nation’s intelligence on these materials at the highest classification levels, and shared foreign intelligence as well.
Through the Clinton and majority of the second Bush administrations (I retired in 2007), I had access to this intelligence, including the run-up to the Iraq war.
To those who contend the Bush administration led us into this war I issue this challenge: Find me one statement by any Clinton administration official that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. You won’t find one, and the reason for this is that the intelligence was consistent throughout both administrations.
Since it was consistent, how could it be manipulated by Bush? The world knew Iraq had chemical weapons, as Hussein had used them in the bloody war with Iran and against his own Kurdish population. If you have chemical weapons, you have WMDs.
Iraq was required to destroy these weapons as a condition to the end of the Gulf War, and UN inspectors who had to verify this task were ejected by Iraq during the Clinton, not Bush, administration.
During President Clinton’s administration the debate centered on forcing Hussein to accept inspectors instead of invasion, not the existence of WMDs. That Hussein was exploring a biological capability was in fact supported by Operation Iraqi Freedom, though this was largely ignored by news accounts. Hussein’s principal regional adversary was Iran.
Today’s headlines remind us of Iran’s long march to acquire a nuclear weapon, and it was certainly intuitive and logical for Hussein to pursue one in response.
Finally, those foreign nations who shared intelligence with the United States were completely and uniformly supportive of U.S. intelligence conclusions.
That the intelligence was wrong is obvious, but any objective person understands the difference between acting on faulty intelligence and lying. The decision to go to war was subjective, and it is fair to question it, but the accusation that it was based on lies is utterly unfair and false.
Isle of Palms