The Corner

Re: This Seems Outrageous

Actually, Sen. Durbin’s been saying stuff like this for a few years now. When pressed to name what specifically Durbin saw in classified intel briefings that differed from what the administration was telling the country, a spokesman for Durbin cites one of the key judgments from the Oct. 2002 NIE (declassified on July 18, 2003):

Most agencies believe that Saddam’s personal interest in and Iraq’s aggressive attempts to obtain high-strength aluminum tubes for centrifuge rotors–as well as Iraq’s attempts to acquire magnets, high-speed balancing machines, and machine tools–provide compelling evidence that Saddam is reconstituting a uranium enrichment effort for Baghdad’s nuclear weapons program. ([The Department of Energy] agrees that reconstitution of the nuclear program is underway but assesses that the tubes probably are not part of the program.)

Durbin’s spokesman argues that the administration, while “factually correct” when it told the press that most agencies believed the tubes were part of a reconstituted nuclear program, was not being totally honest because it omitted the “greater expertise” of the Department of Energy.

I asked if there were other examples, and Durbin’s spokesmen said that there were, but that if Durbin told me he’d have to kill me.

Just kidding! But he did say that the other examples of intelligence Durbin saw that contradicted what the administration was telling the public remain classified and can’t be shared – except, I guess, in the vague “Bush lied, people died” sort of way Durbin shared them today.

I also asked about Sen. Rockefeller’s comments. After all, wasn’t he in the same briefings as Durbin? If so, then wouldn’t he have seen all this evidence of Bush’s mendacity too? Yet, in Oct. of 2002, he said, ”There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons. And will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years.”

“You’ll have to ask Sen. Rockefeller what he meant,” Durbin’s spokesman said. ”I can only tell you what Durbin meant.”

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