Friday, February 06, 2004

Surprising display of intelligence

Sometimes W almost seems like a president. He has just appointed an independent committee to investigate the intelligence failures surrounding the WMD search in Iraq. It is headed up by a Democrat (Chuck Robb) and a Republican (Laurence Silberman). Committee members include Lloyd Cutler, Clinton's former WH counsel, and Sen. John McCain.

This is a great move. In appointing prominent Democrats to the panel, he deflects any charges of partisanship. Adding McCain furthers this, as everyone knows he isn't W's water-carrier. And if (actually, when) they discover the CIA botched this, W can fire George Tenet, a Clinton appointee. Very smart political maneuvering.

And the truth is, the CIA did botch the intelligence. At least in overstating the readiness of Hussein's WMD supplies. Yes, Hussein could have made the stuff in no time flat. It isn't hard to grow anthrax produce mustard gas. But there is nothing to indicate that he was ramping up production.

In no way does this critique mean I am against the war. I think it was justified simply on the basis that Hussein made Iraq too unstable in a volatile region. I don't like Syria either, but at least Assad is smart enough to keep to himself. Hussein started two wars in 10 years. And it also helped to get Libya to give up its WMD. W may be botching the reconstruction to a degree, but taking out Hussein was the right thing to do.

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