A reader writes:

We know from Bob Woodward's reporting that Bush was himself shocked at the paucity of evidence, but chose to characterize manifestly flawed intelligence as strong. Whether that is lying is an ontological question that requires no absolute answer. If Bush was merely mistaken, he has paid next to nothing for an enormous error; amazingly, Americans re-elected him long after his Iraq adventure went south. If he was knowingly deceptive, the Press and official Washington have let him get away with monstrous war crimes. In any case, there is a dearth of outrage. The charge of lying is one way of indicating that Bush has not been held to account in a manner proportionate to the consequences of his failed leadership.

I don't think there has been a dearth of outrage on this blog at the incompetence and misjudgment and parsing of the truth that has characterized the Bush administration. And my endorsing of Kerry in 2004 - despite serious, deep disagreements with him - was a function of my own attempt to hold Bush responsible.

I just don't believe that the decision to go to war was a function of conscious, pre-meditated deceit. It was close to the line of deceit, and may have gone over in the mind of Dick Cheney, but it was not an entirely trumped-up fear about Saddam. It was a reckless overstatement and a wilfully blind refusal to see grays in among the blacks and whites. In the traumatized aftermath of 9/11, I was as guilty of that as anyone, but although the administration should have known better - and had more access to the intelligence than I did - I still don't believe they lied outright in the way some now claim.

My own outrage has always been more acutely directed at the torture policy (and lies about it) and the pig-headed refusal to change course in the Iraq occupation until it was almost too late.

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