Peter Wehner, deputy assistant to the president and director of the White House's Office of Strategic Initiatives, lays out heavy doses of the facts about Iraq in today's WSJ.
Myth: The president misled Americans to convince them to go to war.
Ted Kennedy: "There is no question [the Bush administration] misled the nation and led us into a quagmire in Iraq."
Jimmy Carter: ""President Bush has not been honest with the American people."
Al Gore: "An "abuse of the truth" characterized the administration's "march to war."
Wrong. "The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) is the intelligence community's authoritative written judgment on specific national-security issues. The 2002 NIE provided a key judgment: "Iraq has continued its [WMD] programs in defiance of U.N. resolutions and restrictions. Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons as well as missiles with ranges in excess of U.N. restrictions; if left unchecked, it probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade.""
"The bipartisan Silberman-Robb Commission, which investigated the causes of intelligence failures in the run-up to the war, we now know that the President's Daily Brief (PDB) and the Senior Executive Intelligence Brief "were, if anything, more alarmist and less nuanced than the NIE." We also know that the intelligence in the PDB was not "markedly different" from that given to Congress."
John Kerry: "I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security."
Ted Kennedy: "We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction."
Hillary Clinton said in 2002: "In the four years since the inspectors, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability and his nuclear program."
"Beyond that, intelligence agencies from around the globe believed Saddam had WMD. Even foreign governments that opposed his removal from power believed Iraq had WMD: Just a few weeks before Operation Iraqi Freedom, Wolfgang Ischinger, German ambassador to the U.S., said, "I think all of our governments believe that Iraq has produced weapons of mass destruction and that we have to assume that they continue to have weapons of mass destruction.""
"In addition, no serious person would justify a war based on information he knows to be false and which would be shown to be false within months after the war concluded. It is not as if the WMD stockpile question was one that wasn't going to be answered for a century to come."
Myth: The Bush administration pressured intelligence agencies to bias their judgments.
Gore: "CIA analysts who strongly disagreed with the White House found themselves under pressure at work and became fearful of losing promotions and salary increases."
Kennedy: "The administrationput pressure on intelligence officers to produce the desired intelligence and analysis."
"This myth is shattered by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's bipartisan Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq. Among the findings: "The committee did not find any evidence that intelligence analysts changed their judgments as a result of political pressure, altered or produced intelligence products to conform with administration policy, or that anyone even attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to do so." Silberman-Robb concluded the same, finding "no evidence of political pressure to influence the Intelligence Community's prewar assessments of Iraq's weapons programs...Analysts universally asserted that in no instance did political pressure cause them to skew or alter any of their analytical judgments."
Myth: Because weapons of mass destruction stockpiles weren't found, Saddam posed no threat.
Howard Dean: "Iraq was not a danger to the United States."
John Murtha: "There was no threat to our national security."
Max Cleland: "Iraq was no threat. We now know that. There are no weapons of mass destruction, no nuclear weapons programs."
"Yet while we did not find stockpiles of WMD in Iraq, what we did find was enough to alarm any sober-minded individual."
"Upon his return from Iraq, weapons inspector David Kay, head of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), told the Senate: "I actually think this may be one of those cases where [Iraq under Saddam Hussein] was even more dangerous than we thought." His statement when issuing the ISG progress report said: "We have discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities" that were part of "deliberate concealment efforts" that should have been declared to the U.N. And, he concluded, "Saddam, at least as judged by those scientists and other insiders who worked in his military-industrial programs, had not given up his aspirations and intentions to continue to acquire weapons of mass destruction.""
"Among the key findings of the September 2004 report by Charles Duelfer, who succeeded Mr. Kay as ISG head, are that Saddam was pursuing an aggressive strategy to subvert the Oil for Food Program and to bring down U.N. sanctions through illicit finance and procurement schemes; and that Saddam intended to resume WMD efforts once U.N. sanctions were eliminated. According to Mr. Duelfer, "the guiding theme for WMD was to sustain the intellectual capacity achieved over so many years at such a great cost and to be in a position to produce again with as short a lead time as possible...Virtually no senior Iraqi believed that Saddam had forsaken WMD forever. Evidence suggests that, as resources became available and the constraints of sanctions decayed, there was a direct expansion of activity that would have the effect of supporting future WMD reconstitution."
"Beyond this, Saddam's regime was one of the most sadistic and aggressive in modern history. It started a war against Iran and used mustard gas and nerve gas. A decade later Iraq invaded Kuwait. Iraq was a massively destabilizing force in the Middle East; so long as Saddam was in power, rivers of blood were sure to follow."
Myth: Promoting democracy in the Middle East is a postwar rationalization.
Nancy Pelosi: "The president now says that the war is really about the spread of democracy in the Middle East. This effort at after-the-fact justification was only made necessary because the primary rationale was so sadly lacking in fact."
"President Bush argued for democracy taking root in Iraq before the war began. To take just one example, he said in a speech on Feb. 26, 2003: "A liberated Iraq can show the power of freedom to transform that vital region, by bringing hope and progress into the lives of millions. America's interests in security, and America's belief in liberty, both lead in the same direction: to a free and peaceful Iraq...The world has a clear interest in the spread of democratic values, because stable and free nations do not breed the ideologies of murder. They encourage the peaceful pursuit of a better life. And there are hopeful signs of a desire for freedom in the Middle East...A new regime in Iraq would serve as a dramatic and inspiring example of freedom for other nations in the region."
In other words, a great many people on the Left owe apologies to many, many people on the Right.