The Sabri Intel

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Why did the president choose to ignore - and hide from others - insider intelligence that Saddam had no WMDs before the war? Sid has a follow-up to previous stories about the information given by Naji Sabri, Saddam's foreign minister. Tenet has confirmed hearing from him. Sid claims that two CIA officers claim that Bush was personally given the information by Tenet. Money quote:

On the eve of Sabri's appearance at the United Nations in September 2002 to present Saddam's case, the officer in charge of this operation met in New York with a "cutout" who had debriefed Sabri for the CIA. Then the officer flew to Washington, where he met with CIA deputy director John McLaughlin, who was "excited" about the report. Nonetheless, McLaughlin expressed his reservations. He said that Sabri's information was at odds with "our best source." That source was code-named "Curveball," later exposed as a fabricator, con man and former Iraqi taxi driver posing as a chemical engineer.

The next day, Sept. 18, Tenet briefed Bush on Sabri. "Tenet told me he briefed the president personally," said one of the former CIA officers. According to Tenet, Bush's response was to call the information "the same old thing." Bush insisted it was simply what Saddam wanted him to think. "The president had no interest in the intelligence," said the CIA officer. The other officer said, "Bush didn't give a fuck about the intelligence. He had his mind made up."

I don't think, if this is all true, that Bush therefore lied about WMDs. He was just guilty of professional negligence and criminal blindness on the most important decision a president can ever make. That goes for the conduct of the occupation as well, of course. But we had a chance to fire him in 2004; and we didn't.

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