On Sept. 18, 2002, CIA director George Tenet briefed President Bush in the Oval Office on top-secret intelligence that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction, according to two former senior CIA officers. Bush dismissed as worthless this information from the Iraqi foreign minister, a member of Saddam's inner circle, although it turned out to be accurate in every detail. Tenet never brought it up again.
Nor was the intelligence included in the National Intelligence Estimate of October 2002, which stated categorically that Iraq possessed WMD. No one in Congress was aware of the secret intelligence that Saddam had no WMD as the House of Representatives and the Senate voted, a week after the submission of the NIE, on the Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq. The information, moreover, was not circulated within the CIA among those agents involved in operations to prove whether Saddam had WMD.
The intelligence came from Naji Sabri, Saddam's foreign minister. According to Blumenthal, "the information was distorted in a report written to fit the preconception that Saddam did have WMD programs. That false and restructured report was passed to Richard Dearlove, chief of the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), who briefed Prime Minister Tony Blair on it as validation of the cause for war."
We know what happened then, Blair played along, despite the fact that he knew "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
One of Blumenthal's sources put it more bluntly, "Bush didn't give a fuck about the intelligence. He had his mind made up."
Doesn't this show a frightening disregard for reality? Doesn't this show a terrible contempt, not only for the people he would send off to die, but for those he would set out to kill?
Look, this is the impeachment moment. Actually, let me revise that -- this should be the impeachment moment. And it would be, if we didn't have a legislature intent on being remembered as the Congress that established that there is no such thing as an impeachable offense. Speaker Nancy Pelosi continues to insist that impeachment is "off the table." Here's an idea -- screw Nancy Pelosi.
I had a lot of hope that there would be change when the dems took over the House. The names have changed, but little else has. Congress has given Bush a free hand, while offering only token opposition. They had a chance to either force Bush to start acting like a freakin' adult or defund his own damned war -- a position that was impossible to lose -- and they caved. As I wrote at the time, "How bad does it have to get? Seriously, how stupid and hopeless and bloody does this whole mess have to get before dems use their damned majority to stop it? All along, I've been saying that it doesn't matter how often Bush vetoed funding, he'd have to sign eventually. The veto was irrelevant. He'd sign it or defund the war himself. There was no way Democrats could possibly lose this fight. And that's not a matter of opinion, those were literally the only options Bush would've had. It was as logically certain as it is that one plus one will always equal two."
Bush has to be impeached. The Constitution and the health of the republic demand it. If we let this Congress establish the principle that there is no such thing as an impeachable offense, we are seriously screwed as a nation. If Bush's "We're going to war and damn the facts" attitude isn't impeachable, if lying us by omission into war isn't impeachable, if throwing thousands of americans into a meatgrinder for no goddam good reason isn't impeachable, then nothing is.
It's often said, at least by those on the right, that government should be run like a business. If a corporation had acted this way, the company would be sued out of existence and it's CEO would be behind bars. This is gross negligence at best and manslaughter at the most realistic. There's your "High crimes and misdemeanors" right there.
Bush and that group of fools that always defend him have often said that everyone who voted to authorize the use of force had the same intelligence he did. This is a lie. Blumenthal again (emphasis mine):
In the congressional debate over the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, even those voting against it gave credence to the notion that Saddam possessed WMD. Even a leading opponent such as Sen. Bob Graham, then the Democratic chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who had instigated the production of the NIE, declared in his floor speech on Oct. 12, 2002, "Saddam Hussein's regime has chemical and biological weapons and is trying to get nuclear capacity." Not a single senator contested otherwise. None of them had an inkling of the Sabri intelligence.
If this Congress does not impeach, they'll be saying to every future president, "Lie to us, please." They'll be begging to be used as chumps and to be seen as a pothole to be avoided. They'll be making a king of the president and making both houses as irrelevant as the Senate in imperial Rome.
If Congress doesn't impeach, they'll be declaring themselves useless as anything other than a training ground for future emperors and a legal pretense and justification for those emperors.