“Substantiated by intelligence information.”

Washington Post editorial page editor, Fred Hiatt dug into John Rockefeller’s Senate Select Committee Intelligence Report, in which Rockefeller claims “the administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when it was unsubstantiated, contradicted or even nonexistent.”

Here’s what Hiatt found in the report :

On Iraq’s nuclear weapons program? The president’s statements “were generally substantiated by intelligence community estimates.”

On biological weapons, production capability and those infamous mobile laboratories? The president’s statements “were substantiated by intelligence information.”

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On chemical weapons, then? “Substantiated by intelligence information.”

On weapons of mass destruction overall (a separate section of the intelligence committee report)? “Generally substantiated by intelligence information.”

Delivery vehicles such as ballistic missiles? “Generally substantiated by available intelligence.” Unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to deliver WMDs? “Generally substantiated by intelligence information.”

As you read through the report, you begin to think maybe you’ve mistakenly picked up the minority dissent. But, no, this is the Rockefeller indictment. So, you think, the smoking gun must appear in the section on Bush’s claims about Saddam Hussein’s alleged ties to terrorism.

But statements regarding Iraq’s support for terrorist groups other than al Qaeda “were substantiated by intelligence information.” Statements that Iraq provided safe haven for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and other terrorists with ties to al-Qaeda “were substantiated by the intelligence assessments,” and statements regarding Iraq’s contacts with al-Qaeda “were substantiated by intelligence information.” The report is left to complain about “implications” and statements that “left the impression” that those contacts led to substantive Iraqi cooperation.

Ironically the lead harpy of the Bush Lied People Died crowd actually urges you to read the report, which contradicts his moonbattery.

Hiatt also points out that Rockefeller himself said “here has been some debate over how ‘imminent’ a threat Iraq poses. I do believe Iraq poses an imminent threat. I also believe after September 11, that question is increasingly outdated. . . . To insist on further evidence could put some of our fellow Americans at risk. Can we afford to take that chance? I do not think we can.”

However, Hiatt astutely notes that the take home point is not the utter fraud of the Bush lied argument, which has been transparent from the beginning. Rather that the next president will have a serious dilemma on his hands. Given their utter failure in the case of Iraq, how can the next administration trust any information our intelligence services provide? Barack Obama or John McCain will be in a precarious position dealing with rising threats like Iran, North Korea, China, and Russia, or worse–as we saw on September 11th–an attack no one imagined.

Sadly, this isn’t new. Our intelligence agencies have a long history of failure, Pearl Harbor and 9/11 are the two biggies, but there are others The simple fact is that we aren’t that good at the spook business, and in spite some successes we aren’t getting any better.

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