…but I know you didn’t. Still, it’s helpful that Frank Rich put together in three paragraphs a litany of the intelligence and national security madness pursued by the previous White House:
Obama may well make — or is already making — his own mistakes. And he will bear responsibility for them. But they must be seen in the context of the larger narrative that the revisionists are now working so hard to obscure. The most devastating terrorist attack on American soil did happen during Bush’s term, after the White House repeatedly ignored what the former C.I.A. director, George Tenet, called the “blinking red” alarms before 9/11. It was the Bush defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, who lost bin Laden in Tora Bora, not the Obama Justice Department appointees vilified by Keep America Safe. It was Bush and Cheney, with the aid of Rove’s propaganda campaign, who promoted sketchy and often suspect intelligence about Saddam’s imminent “mushroom clouds.” The ensuing Iraq war allowed those who did attack us on 9/11 to regroup in Afghanistan and beyond — and emboldened Iran, an adversary with an actual nuclear program.
The Iran piece of the back story doesn’t end there. As The Times reported last weekend, Dick Cheney’s former company, Halliburton, kept doing business with Tehran through foreign subsidies until 2007, even as the Bush administration showered it with $27 billion in federal contracts, including a no-bid contract to restore oil production in Iraq. It was also the Bush administration that courted, lionized and catered to Ahmed Chalabi, the Machiavellian Iraqi who lobbied for the Iraq war, supplied some of the more egregious “intelligence” on Saddam’s W.M.D. used to sell it, and has ever since flaunted his dual loyalty to Iran.
Last month, no less reliable a source than Gen. Ray Odierno, the senior American commander in Iraq, warned that Chalabi was essentially functioning as an open Iranian agent on the eve of Iraq’s election, meeting with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and other Iranian officials to facilitate Iran’s influence over Iraq after the voting. (Dexter Filkins of The Times reported on Chalabi’s ties to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2006.) As the vote counting began last week, fears grew that he could be the monkey wrench who corrupts the entire process. It’s no surprise that Chalabi, so beloved by Bush that he appeared as an honored guest at the 2004 State of the Union, receives not a single mention in Rove’s memoir.
One thing Rich omits: For all the sourcing he does of recent New York Times articles, he neglects to mention the critical role played by Judith Miller’s “reportage” of Cheney-sourced disinformation of Iraqi WMD propaganda that largely justified the invasion in the public imagination. Perhaps that’s too much to expect of the Fourth Estate.