Today’s New York Times has an article that might just give us some idea of what probably drove Sen. Harry Reid to involve “rule 21” last week and shut down the Senate. (And why Republicans were so quick to comply with demands that the investigation into pre-invasion Iraq intelligence be stepped up.)Editor & Publisher previewed the article yesterday.
Tomorrow, in its print edition, The New York Times starts to answer the question, with reporter Douglas Jehl disclosing the contents of a newly declassified memo apparently passed to him by Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
It shows that an al-Qaeda official held by the Americans was identified as a likely fabricator months before the Bush administration began to use his statements as the basis for its claims that Iraq trained al-Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons, according to this Defense Intelligence Agency document from February 2002.
It declared that it was probable that the prisoner, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, “was intentionally misleading the debriefers” in making claims about Iraqi support for al-Qaeda’s work with illicit weapons, Jehl reports.
“The document provides the earliest and strongest indication of doubts voiced by American intelligence agencies about Mr. Libi’s credibility,” Jehl writes. “Without mentioning him by name, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Colin L. Powell, then secretary of state, and other administration officials repeatedly cited Mr. Libi’s information as ‘credible’ evidence that Iraq was training Al Qaeda members in the use of explosives and illicit weapons.
The article itself goes into greater detail, but the scuttlebutt here is that the administration — which had the memo in 2002 — knew they were being lied to about the existence and extent of Iraq’s fabled WMD program. Steve over at Lean Left has more on just what this could mean for Bush.
And why exactly is this so important? Because take a look at the certification that Bush sent to Congress to start the war, which was required in the October 2002 war resolution, and then see that as we suspected over two and a half years ago, Bush has a big problem now…
… This latest revelation means that at the time Bush justified the commencement of war against Iraq consistent with what was required under Public Law 107-243, he certified things not in evidence, and made claims to Congress (Saddam’s active operation of a WMD program and Saddam’s assistance to Al Qaeda) that he, Cheney, and Rummy already knew were false.
In other words, they lied to the American people and to Congress in order to start the war in Iraq. (But, if you’re reading this, you probably knew this years ago.) At a time when 53% of the American public supports impeachment if Bush lied in order to start the war in Iraq, that can’t be good news for the administration.
The question is, could this be finally be the smoking gun?