Sunday, June 29, 2003

Time Magazine: Who Lost the WMD?

Meeting last month at a sweltering U.S. base outside Doha, Qatar, with his top Iraq commanders, President Bush skipped quickly past the niceties and went straight to his chief political obsession: Where are the weapons of mass destruction? Turning to his Baghdad proconsul, Paul Bremer, Bush asked, "Are you in charge of finding WMD?" Bremer said no, he was not. Bush then put the same question to his military commander, General Tommy Franks. But Franks said it wasn't his job either. A little exasperated, Bush asked, So who is in charge of finding WMD? After aides conferred for a moment, someone volunteered the name of Stephen Cambone, a little-known deputy to Donald Rumsfeld, back in Washington. Pause. "Who?" Bush asked.

It seems as if just about everyone has questions these days about the missing WMD. Did U.S. intelligence officials—or their civilian bosses—overstate the evidence of weapons before the war? And if some intelligence officials expressed skepticism about WMD, who ignored them? For the past several weeks, the usually lockstep Bush Administration has done its best to maintain a unified front in the face of these queries. Whenever asked, Administration officials have replied that the weapons will turn up eventually. But as the search drags on through its third largely futile month, the blame game in Washington has gone into high gear. And as Bush's allies and enemies alike on Capitol Hill begin to pick apart some 19 volumes of prewar intelligence and examine them one document at a time, the cohesive Bush team is starting to come apart. "This is a cloud hanging over their credibility, their word," Republican Senate Intelligence Committee member Chuck Hagel told abc News. Here are key questions Congress wants answered:

What Was Cheney's Role?
Lawmakers who once saluted every Bush claim and command are beginning to express doubts. Two congressional panels are opening new rounds of investigations into the Administration's prewar claims about WMD. One of their immediate inquiries, sources tell Time, involves Vice President Dick Cheney's role in reviewing the intelligence before the bombing started. Cheney made repeated visits to the CIA in the prelude to the war, going over intelligence assessments with the analysts who produced them. Some Democrats say Cheney's visits may have amounted to pressure on the normally cautious agency.

- continued -

A lot of people read TIME. This will get a lot of people thinking.



Post a Comment

<< Home