Karl Rove's memoir will be coming out soon, and apparently, there's something he's genuinely contrite about: "The former White House political adviser blames himself for not pushing back against claims that President George W. Bush had taken the country to war under false pretenses, calling it one of the worst mistakes he made during the Bush presidency." Yes indeed, if there's one thing Rove and the Bush administration failed to do, it's criticize their opponents for not supporting the president's war policy.
But before this bit of Bizarro World fantasy worms its way into anyone's mind, let's take a moment to review some things Bush and Cheney told us in the run-up to the war, specifically on the question of Iraq's allegedly terrifying arsenal of weapons:
"Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us. ... We now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons." -- Cheney, 8/26/02
"Iraq has made several attempts to buy high-strength aluminum tubes used to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon. Should Iraq acquire fissile material, it would be able to build a nuclear weapon within a year." -- Bush, 9/12/2002
"The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons, is rebuilding the facilities to make more and, according to the British government, could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes after the order is given." -- Bush, 9/28/2002
"The Iraqi regime ... possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons. ... We've also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas." -- Bush, 10/7/2002
"We know he's got chemical weapons." -- Bush, 11/2/2002
"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production." -- Bush, 1/29/2003
"We believe [Saddam] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons." -- Cheney, 3/16/2003
That's just a taste. There are plenty more (you can find lots in this handy timeline assembled by Mother Jones).
This is not a matter of "he said/she said," or a question open to interpretation. The Bush administration clearly, repeatedly, and brazenly lied about what Iraq had, and what they knew. Any reporter who repeats Rove's argument without pointing out that he is heaping his own new lies on that fetid pile is doing the public a grave disservice.
-- Paul Waldman