We may need to strengthen our intelligence services, but with regard to the invasion of Iraq, the failure to find weapons of mass destruction is a non-issue. As Barbara Amiel writes in the New York Sun:

This, after all, was a regime that just before the first Gulf War sent its entire air force for safekeeping in Iran. If the intelligence services were wrong, every Western service and regime, from France to America, from Clinton to Chirac, failed. It is conceivable that Saddam Hussein found it important to pretend that he had nuclear weapons. He might have been like any moronic hooligan or bank robber who, faced with the police, pretends they have a weapon and often die as they reach for their toy pistol–or sunglasses.

Iraq was a regime that had a nuclear reactor (before Israel bombed it), attempted to acquire technological information abroad, refused to follow 16 U.N. resolutions, and periodically kicked out U.N.
inspectors. If its WMD program was only disinformation, it was believed because Iraq did its level best to make it credible.

Mr. Bush’s policy was that his was a pre-emptive doctrine. His action was based on the notion that once you find WMD it’s too late. If deployment is to be the proof of their existence, the price tag becomes too high.

Leftist (former leftist?) Christopher Hitchens adds, in an editorial a day later:

[If Saddam Hussein] really didn’t have any stores of unlawful weapons of mass destruction, it was very dumb of him to act as if he still did or perhaps even to believe that he still did. And it seems perfectly idiotic of anybody to complain that we have now found this out (always assuming that we have, and that there’s no more disclosure to come). This highly pertinent and useful discovery could only be made by way of regime change….

It has since been established, by the Kay report, that there was a Baath plan to purchase weapons from North Korea, that materials had been hidden in the homes of scientists, and that there was a concealment program run by Qusay Hussein in person. This may look less menacing now that it has been exposed to the daylight, but there was no reason not to take it extremely seriously when it was presented as latent.

For extended excerpts from CIA director George Tenet’s Georgetown speech reviewing the quality of American intelligence, click here, or, for a briefer summary–and a discussion of how Tenet’s points specifically undermine John Kerry’s campaign rhetoric–see the New York Sun’s lead editorial, “Tenet’s Finest Hour.”

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