Lefties are all a twitter about Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, a DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) source who lied about high-level connections between Saddam and Al Qaeda aimed at transferring WMD know-how. The DIA suspected the credibility of this source in 2002.
Now the predictable line from some lefties is that the Bush Administration used the claims of this source knowing they were false.
But Tom Maguire has dredged through the archives and discovered the CIA's official assessment
indicating support for Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi's claims:
We have credible reporting that al-Qa'ida leaders sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire W.M.D. capabilities. The reporting also stated that Iraq has provided training to al-Qa'ida members in the areas of poisons and gases and making conventional bombs.
As Maguire points out, the DIA also published a very wrong report in 2002 saying Niger had sold 500 tons of Uranium ore to Iraq.
Now I don't know how the Bush Administration was supposed to filter out or check the claims of organisations supposedly representing the pinnacle of US intelligence gathering. But I suspect that's not the point of these latest attacks on Bush's credibility, as usual mounted by the mainstream US media and picked up by leftie bloggers.
Here's the line the leftie's are pushing: the Bush Administration mounted a conspiracy to force US agencies into producing evidence Iraq was a military threat, thus justifying a military expedition which has enriched US corporations linked to the Bush family and its supporters.
Here's the real line:
The CIA and DIA are hopelessly inept at real human intelligence and were probably fooled by Saddam's desire to present a strong military face to his neighbouring enemies and the United States, just as the same agencies were fooled by the Warsaw Pact countries building fake military infrastructure during the Cold War. These agencies had little real human intelligence on goings-on in Iraq, but were happy to produce various assessments suggesting this and that anyway. During the 1990's and soon after the September 11 terrorist attacks, various prominent Democrats and Republicans privy to high-level intelligence assessments, including former President Clinton and Presidential hopeful John Kerry, believed as fact the intelligence agencies' claims that Saddam was nearing completion of some sort of WMD capability. Support for military action against Iraq was widespread, and indeed the Bush Administration was under pressure from some quarters to act sooner rather than later.
So Bush launches an invasion of Iraq, justifying it by saying the United States can not risk letting Saddam getting his hands on WMD's such as nuclear warheads. It was a pre-emptive invasion, designed to stop whatever secret WMD programmes Saddam had going, but with a twin objective of bringing democratic government by force to the centre of the Arab world. The longer term hope is to discourage the exportation of Muslim extremism, seen by some as deliberately supported by Arab dictatorships who are not held to account by their own peoples.
Skip forward to 2005. Post-invasion investigations show Saddam didn't have any WMD programmes nearing completion (as far as we know). Saddam had evidently given up on the idea of building a WMD arsenal in the short-term, instead trying to preserve and build his existing WMD scientific and engineering capabilities until international pressure cooled down.
The Left is now trying to mispresent the Iraq invasion as intent on interdicting already-in-existence WMD devices.
The Left is now trying to claim the Bush Administration manufactured the entire process to justify the invasion.