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These are the words now on the lips of those trying to explain why we're in Iraq. Okay, I'll give you "murderous dictator," but Saddam wasn't the only one on the planet, and probably wasn't the most murderous, body for body.

It (gasp!) turns out, writes Michael Isikoff (who has rapidly redeemed himself for his recent piece on Michael Moore), that we knew the case was lame from the start -- we were just determined to go to war no matter what:

The more he read, the more uneasy (Colin Powell) became. In early February 2003 Colin Powell was putting the finishing touches on his speech to the United Nations spelling out the case for war in Iraq. Across the Potomac River, a Pentagon intelligence analyst going over the facts in the speech was alarmed at how shaky that case was. Powell's presentation relied heavily on the claims of one especially dubious Iraqi defector, dubbed "Curve Ball" inside the intel community. A self-proclaimed chemical engineer who was the brother of a top aide to Iraqi National Congress chief Ahmad Chalabi, Curve Ball had told the German intelligence service that Iraq had a fleet of seven mobile labs used to manufacture deadly biological weapons. But nobody inside the U.S. government had ever actually spoken to the informantˇexcept the Pentagon analyst, who concluded the man was an alcoholic and utterly useless as a source. He recalled that Curve Ball had shown up for their only meeting nursing a "terrible hangover."

After reading Powell's speech, the analyst decided he had to speak up, according to a devastating report from the Senate intelligence committee, released last week, on intelligence failures leading up to the Iraq war. He wrote an urgent e-mail to a top CIA official warning that there were even questions about whether Curve Ball "was who he said he was." Could Powell really rely on such an informant as the "backbone" for the U.S. government's claims that Iraq had a continuing biological-weapons program? The CIA official quickly responded: "Let's keep in mind the fact that this war's going to happen regardless of what Curve Ball said or didn't say," he wrote. "The Powers That Be probably aren't terribly interested in whether Curve Ball knows what he's talking about."

The saga of Curve Ball is just one of many wince-inducing moments to be found in the 500-page Senate report, which lays out how the U.S. intelligence community utterly failed to accurately assess the state of Saddam Hussein's programs for weapons of mass destructionˇand how White House and Pentagon officials, intent on taking the country to war, unquestioningly embraced the flawed conclusions. In startling detail, the bipartisan report concludes that the CIA and other agencies consistently "overstated" the evidence that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons, and was actively reconstituting its nuclear-weapons program. Hampered by a "group think" dynamic that caused them to view all Iraqi actions in the harshest possible light, the committee found, U.S. intelligence officials repeatedly embellished fragmentary and ambiguous pieces of evidence, making the danger posed by Iraq appear far more urgent than it actually was.

How come we're hot to impeach presidents for lying about their penis, and not about lying about sending poor people's sons and daughters to their death for a cause that wasn't? Elect George Bush? Yes, elect him to a seat in his truck in Crawford, TX.

IN RELATED NEWS: I heard Kerry yesterday on CNN, talking about his wife, Theresa. He referred to her as "smart as a whip." Is there anybody who would refer to Laura Bush that way? And is there any real likelihood that a president who, after learning the country was under attack, sat dumbfounded, listening to "My Pet Goat" while he waited for one of his handlers to come pull his strings, would marry a woman "smart as a whip"? Then again, she was, at least, plucky enough to drag him to detox (or stay with him while he dragged himself there), and probably managed to keep his tiny little mind from dwelling on all his failed businesses.

While Arnold Schwarzenegger, whom I voted for for California governor, is the American success story (as a poor Austrian who becomes the biggest movie star in the world, then an American political leader), George Bush has to be the most successful man ever at failing upward.

Posted by aalkon at July 12, 2004 8:04 AM


The CIA first made contact with Saddam Hussein the year I was born. For the next three decades, we did everything we could to help the hillbilly mafioso consolidate his grip on the nation, raping her environment, savaging her economy, and brutalizing her people. And then for the last decade we watched the UN elites starve and cheat them with his assistance as well. To imagine that it was W who was "just determined to go to war" is a childish abdication of a profound historical responsibility we have to those people.

It was Clinton who signed the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998.

Posted by: Crid at July 12, 2004 6:41 AM

This is not some seventh grade Democrats are better than Republicans deal, nyah nyah nyah. Bush was wrong...or should I say his handlers pulled the wrong strings. Or are you still valiantly trying to convince yourself otherwise, Crid?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 12, 2004 8:17 AM

I met Mrs. Kerry a few months ago in Montecito, and she's a genuinely nice and friendly person - none of the faux niceties we're used to from candidate spouses (male and female). Very relaxed too - none of that negative vibe from someone who's insecure or really into puffing up their own ego.

I posted a link to your blog from mine -gotta help a fellow Venetian who's fighting to make the Rose a safe place for adults! ;-)

Posted by: Greg Dewar at July 12, 2004 10:18 AM

> ...trying to explain why we're in Iraq...

is how your post began. Amy, WE'VE ALWAYS BEEN IN IRAQ. No matter what happens, the United States is GOING TO GET THAT OIL. George Bush is the one who wants it pumped by a capitalist democracy instead of a crime family (one recently nourishing religious fanaticism on a scale you would certainly find incomprehensible; don't be snarky). Isn't that what you want? It seems so many democrats *LIKED* supporting dictators.

As one who gratefully uses that oil to fly to other nations, you should understand one more little tidbit: Approximately 15%-22% of the USA's oil comes from the middle east, but about 85+% of *Europe's* does. Get the picture? Once again, Johnny Smalltown from the States is dying on behalf of people named Gunter and Pierre.

> Bush was wrong...or should I say his handlers
> pulled the wrong strings.

What ARE you saying?

For a number of reasons, including long-delayed civic responsibilty, I watched the debate on war in Iraq more closely than anything in public life before. That people can in such short order be brainwashed that Bush sold this based on WMD intelligence is heartbreaking in the extreme.

If you're the sort of person who thinks the United States has special responsibilities in the world because of her muscle, her wealth, and her past misconduct, don't hold your breath. A sof this summer, it looks like things are not going to get better.

Re: Ms Kerry, she's every bit the whippersnapper you'd expect for a woman who married first into money and then into power.

Laura Bush is a woman who's built her family with people who have deeply human appetites. (George liked beer, and maybe other things; her daughters like margaritas). Laura herself likes nothing more than sitting on a sofa, chain-smoking filtered cigarettes while reading poetry, and pissing off her blue-blooded in-laws.

Do you really want to judge these women by their "vibes"?

Posted by: Crid at July 12, 2004 6:38 PM

So,'re admitting it was all about oil?

Posted by: LYT at July 13, 2004 1:33 AM

So,'re admitting it was all about oil?

Did we put Saddam in charge to lead them into a bold new dawn of Christian understanding?

It's 44% certain that you're taunting me as a joke, because you couldn't be that naive, although a lot of people are.

The smirking part of that naivte is difficult to forgive in those who are sincere. Because they cluck about "oy-yil" as if it wasn't something that materially enriched them every hour of the day. Cheap oil grows their food and protects it from pests, ships it freshly to market, cooks it, and washes it from their plates after they're fed. Cheap oil harvests the fibers of the clothes, or is woven into them directly. Medicine, manufacturing, transportation, communications, the whole miracle runs on cheap energy.

And they'll cross six lanes of traffic to save a penny a gallon, but pretend the enemy is in some corporate boardroom.

People are shits.

Posted by: Crid at July 13, 2004 8:09 AM

The thing that strikes me about this Theresa bimbo is that whenever she says "my husband" she means the dead guy, Republican Senator John Heinz. Somebody needs to remind her she's now married to this Kerry guy before he dumps her for a nice domestic partnership with Edwards.

Posted by: Richard at July 13, 2004 1:22 PM