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EJ Dionne was hyperfocusing yesterday on Bush's "creating an impression" in September and October 2003 that "we don't leak" when, in Dionne's view, we "now know" that Bush was authorizing a leak.

But the fundamental problem with this argument is that in July 2003, a couple months before Bush said that, we already knew that Bush had authorized the release of this exact same information, for the exact same purpose, that we know today.

As PowerLineBlog reported recently, this Knight-Ridder story appeared on July 19, 2003:

Bush releases excerpts of top-secret Iraq report
By Ron Hutcheson

Hoping to quell the controversy over President Bush's use of questionable intelligence to help make the case for war with Iraq, White House officials on Friday released portions of a top-secret report from last year that concluded that Saddam Hussein was actively seeking nuclear weapons.

But that finding in the classified National Intelligence Estimate, prepared for the White House last October, came loaded with reservations that reflected deep divisions in the intelligence community over Iraq's weapons programs and were at odds with the certainty expressed by Bush and his top aides.

The report even quoted intelligence experts at the State Department as describing assertions that Iraq tried to buy uranium in Africa as "highly dubious." Bush nevertheless repeated the assertion in his State of the Union speech in January while arguing the need for war. Uranium is a key component of nuclear bombs.

Although the report concluded that Iraq was seeking chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, it acknowledged the scarcity of solid information. If the excerpts accurately reflect the full report, Bush reached the decision to go to war by assuming the worst about Iraq's capabilities and Hussein's intentions.

White House officials held a 75-minute briefing Friday on White House contacts with the CIA during the drafting of the speech. A senior administration official, insisting on anonymity, said the CIA approved the wording of Bush's speech without "any flag raised about the underlying intelligence."

The official disputed suggestions that White House officials pressured the CIA to sign off on the speech despite misgivings in the agency. CIA director George Tenet has acknowledged that the intelligence agency should have deleted the assertion.

So the question is: why didn't Dionne complain at the time? Why is it that in July 2003 everyone welcomed this release of information by Bush, released for the obvious purpose of combatting the Wilson story, but now, all of a sudden, it is some sort of a crime or moral offense for him to have done it?

Dionne concludes his mini-tirade with: "What did the President forget, and when did he forget it?" Funny, I was going to ask the same question about Dionne.

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This page contains a single entry by pudge published on April 10, 2006 2:43 PM.

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