To begin, CNN explains the findings of the so-called Silberman-Robb Commission:
In a scathing report on the intelligence community, a presidential commission Thursday said the United States still knows "disturbingly little" about the weapons programs and intentions of many of its "most dangerous adversaries."Ho hum.
The panel also determined the intelligence community was "dead wrong" in its assessments of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities before the U.S. invasion.
"This was a major intelligence failure," said a letter from the commission to President Bush.
The NY Times op-ed accurately finds the report redundant:
After more than a year's dithering, the panel produced some 600 pages of conventional wisdom about the intelligence failures before the war with Iraq, along with a big dose of political spin that pleased the White House but provided little enlightenment for the public.Call that an error of commission. Thanks to the US Senate report last July, we already knew that official Washington blames the intelligence agencies for the Iraq fiasco.
As the Times opines, the report makes a serious error of omission:
Sadly, there is nothing about the central issue - how the Bush administration handled the intelligence reports on Iraq's weapons programs and presented them to the public to win support for the invasion of Iraq. All we get is an excuse: the panel was "not authorized" to look at this question, so it didn't bother. The report says the panel "interviewed a host of current and former policy makers" about the intelligence on Iraq, but did not "review how policy makers subsequently used that information."Too political?
How's this: The National Intelligence Estimate was produced in October 2002, but Dick Cheney gave his VFW speech in August, Condi Rice warned of a smoking mushroom cloud in September, and the President himself repeated all these warnings -- and more -- in various speeches before the NIE was produced. Prior NIE's did not find that Iraq's WMD programs had been reconstituted.
It's really as simple as that.
I previously blogged about this conclusion: "The Chicken, or the Egg?"