Speaking of the two Kevins, this later post of his shows us that his other side isn’t far behind. Writing of Paul Pillar’s article referring to the politicization of Iraq intel, Kevin writes:
I continue to think that the issue of Iraq's WMD is a difficult one. As I've noted before, there's no question that the administration manipulated the WMD intelligence. At the same time, though, it also seems clear that they, along with the intelligence community, really did believe Iraq was actively producing chemical and biological weapons. (Not nukes, though. The "mushroom cloud" talk was pretty clearly just for show.)
And I can’t believe that anyone at this late date could make this case. This won’t be new to any longtime readers, but here was the response I wrote at Kevin’s (which I’m sure I’ve written on other occasions):
I don't see how this is a difficult issue at all. As I was saying before the war: The lie isn't about what they believed; it was about their statements of proof. While we might have believed that Saddam had WMD's, we didn't have the proof of it. And that's what the Bush Admin lied about, as they clearly acted as if our evidence was far stronger than it is.
For example: I could argue that Kevin Drum is naked and covered in kinky snake oil. And it's possibly true (though I'd rather not want to know). And maybe I believe it to be true. But I don't have any evidence of it. And so if I state that I have no evidence and that this is an unproven belief, we don't really have a problem (excepting the obvious one regarding Kevin’s perviness). But if I pretend that I do have evidence, then I'm lying; because I have none. But, even if Kevin IS oiled and naked; I'm still lying, because I have no proof of it. And it's not about what I believe, but about what I say I have.
And so that's what this was all about. I find it unlikely that the Bush Admin didn't think there would be some WMD's in Iraq. But they had no good evidence. And so the statements they made about it were lies. Not because they believed the statements to be false, but because they pretended to have evidence that they didn't have. And they were lying, whether or not Iraq had WMD's. Because again, the lie wasn't about what Iraq had; but about the level of proof that we had. And had they been honest and stated that the WMD's intel was guesswork (which it was); they would not have been liars. But they also would have been far less likely to get the war they wanted.
But that was what I wrote before I had actually read Pillar’s article, which says things such as:
On the issue that mattered most, the intelligence community judged that Iraq probably was several years away from developing a nuclear weapon. The October 2002 NIE also judged that Saddam was unlikely to use WMD against the United States unless his regime was placed in mortal danger.
And can anyone seriously suggest that the Bush Admin’s position didn’t directly contradict what Pillar is saying the intel communities’ position was? They were clearly saying the exact opposite, and acted as if the intel pointed towards the need for pre-emptive war; when it actually pointed away from it. And so we see yet more evidence of Bush Admin deception.
Again, had these positions been known, we would have been far less likely to go to war. And that’s the exact reason why these things weren’t talked about. But it doesn’t matter if the Bush Admin believed these things to be true. What matters is that they should have known that they weren’t true; but just didn’t care. And while some faint-hearted types like Drum feel squeamish about using the “L” word; I think that we should have no trouble identifying what this was.