David blogged on CBS's story on Saturday about revleations that would be made on Sunday's 60 Minutes program here. David quoted the former CIA official recounting how the White House ignored intelligence information that did not fit their agenda:
"[The source] told us that there were no active weapons of mass destruction programs," says Drumheller. "The [White House] group that was dealing with preparation for the Iraq war came back and said they were no longer interested. And we said 'Well, what about the intel?' And they said 'Well, this isn't about intel anymore. This is about regime change.' "Q. Can the White House justify why they ignored certain intelligence?
They didn't want any additional data from Sabri because, says Drumheller: "The policy was set. The war in Iraq was coming and they were looking for intelligence to fit into the policy."
From the same Saturday CBS story:
The White House declined to respond to Drumheller's account of Naji Sabri’s role, but Secretary of State Rice has said that Sabri, the Iraqi foreign minister turned U.S. spy, was just one source, and therefore his information wasn’t reliable.Q. Did the White House continue to disseminate bad intelligence even after it was proved to be false?
"They certainly took information that came from single sources on uranium, on the yellowcake story and on several other stories with no corroboration at all and so you can’t say you only listen to one source, because on many issues they only listened to one source," says Drumheller.
"So you’re saying that if there was a single source and that information from that source backed up the case they were trying to build, then that single source was ok, but if it didn’t, then the single source was not ok, because he couldn’t be corroborated," Bradley asked.
"Unfortunately, that’s what it looks like," Drum
Again from CBS News :
One day after Wilson's piece appeared, the White House acknowledged the president should not have used the uranium claim. But according to newly released court records, the vice president’s chief of staff, Scooter Libby, leaked classified intelligence to reporters a day later in an effort to bolster the uranium story. What Scooter Libby didn’t tell reporters is that the White House had been warned before the State of the Union speech not to use the Niger uranium claim.Q. Has any of this stuff yet been investigated by anyone whose principal goal is not covering for the White House?
"At the same time they were admitting the words should not have been in the State of the Union address, they were, we now know, sending Libby out to selectively leak only those pieces that continued to support this allegation that was baseless. In other words, they were furthering the disinformation campaign," says Wilson.
"The American people want to believe the president. I have relatives who I've tried to talk to about this who say, 'Well, no, you can’t tell me the president had this information and just ignored it,'" says Drumheller. "But I think over time, people will look back on this and see this is going to be one of the great, I think, policy mistakes of all time."
The White House declined 60 Minutes' request for an interview for this story, but Dan Bartlett, Counselor to the President, wrote us:From Josh Marshall who intervied Drumheller after the 60 Minutes piece:
"The President’s convictions about Saddam Hussein's possession of WMD were based on the collective judgment of the intelligence community at that time. Bipartisan investigations … found no evidence of political pressure to influence the pre-war intelligence assessments of Iraq’s weapons programs." And he added: "Saddam Hussein never abandoned his plan to acquire WMD, and he posed a serious threat to the American people and to the region."
But here's an angle I'm not sure we're going to hear much about.Please note that the White House is saying there's "no evidence of political pressure to influence the pre-war intelligence assessments."
Drumheller's account is pretty probative evidence on the question of whether the White House politicized and cherry-picked the Iraq intelligence.
So why didn't we hear about any of this in the reports of those Iraq intel commissions that have given the White House a clean bill of health on distorting the intel and misleading the country about what we knew about Iraq's alleged WMD programs?
Think about it. It's devastating evidence against their credibility on a slew of levels.
Did you read in any of those reports -- even in a way that would protect sources and methods -- that the CIA had turned a key member of the Iraqi regime, that that guy had said there weren't any active weapons programs, and that the White House lost interest in what he was saying as soon as they realized it didn't help the case for war? What about what he said about the Niger story?
Did the Robb-Silbermann Commission not hear about what Drumheller had to say? What about the Roberts Committee?
I asked Drumheller just those questions when I spoke to him early this evening. He was quite clear. He was interviewed by the Robb-Silbermann Commission. Three times apparently.
Did he tell them everything he revealed on tonight's 60 Minutes segment. Absolutely.
Drumheller was also interviewed twice by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (the Roberts Committee) but apparently only after they released their summer 2004 report.
"I was stunned," Drumheller told me, when so little of the stuff he had told the commission's and the committee's investigators ended up in their reports. His colleagues, he said, were equally "in shock" that so little of what they related ended up in the reports either.
What Drumheller has to say adds quite a lot to our knowledge of what happened in the lead up to war. But what it shows even more clearly is that none of this stuff has yet been investigated by anyone whose principal goal is not covering for the White House.
No, they may not have tried to influence the gathering of intelligence -- they just ignored what they didn't like, they can't justify why they ignored it, they lied about the evidence when it did come out and no one is really holding them to account for their actions -- other than the people as evidenced by Bush's sinking poll numbers.
Q. When will Bush be impeached?