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Friday, November 11, 2005 

Note to Senate Intel Committee: read Waxman report

The Washington Post yesterday provided a view of the sorry state of the investigation by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on how prewar intelligence was used to bolster the administration’s case for war. It will likely be months before we get anything close to a final report on the use of prewar intelligence, as the Intel Committee has only now instructed its staff to start doing the necessary research. But not to worry—I’ve just the thing for the kids who didn’t do their homework on time.

Much of what will probably wind up in the Senate Intel Committee’s final report has already been published by Rep. Henry Waxman’s Committee on Government Reform in a report entitled, “Iraq on the Record.” Waxman’s report—published in March 2004—is an analysis of a database of over 200 misleading statements made by top administration officials in the year before and after the March 2003 invasion. (You can download the report from the Related page.)

The analysis is decidedly conservative, classifying statements as misleading only if they “conflicted with what intelligence officials knew at the time or involved the failure to include essential qualifiers or caveats.” For a variety of reasons, the study deliberately leaves out a host of things we would likely consider misleading statements, and in so doing makes it impossible to refute the report’s conclusion that we were misled.

Of course, this is nothing new to many of us, "many" now being a majority of the American public. But as meticulous as Waxman’s report is, its provenance as a product of his committee probably doomed it from gaining much exposure when it was originally released.

With public opinion turning decisively against the war, the administration and Republicans generally, perhaps now we’ll see some real work finally get done. My hope is that Democrats will now be emboldened to use the Intel Committee’s investigation—and its ability to compel testimony under oath—to go where Waxman couldn’t go. Maybe now the whole truth will finally come out.


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