Olberman, Clark on Senate Intel Committee report detailing Bush administration lies
The following is a transcript of a segment of "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" on the just released report by the Senate Intelligence Committee which cites the deliberate and knowing deceptions used by the administration to drive the nation into an otherwise unjustified war.
Olberman: It has been so long and we have lost so much since the truth emerged from the so-called "tin foil hat conspiracy theorist left" to become instead the accepted and understood reality of modern American history.
[Now] a long awaited Senate report confirms what once was considered unthinkable, even unspeakable.
The president of the United States lied to congress and to the American people to justify launching the first unprovoked war in United States history.
Senate intelligence chair Sen. Jay Rockefeller today releasing the long-awaited majority report with support from two Republicans, on what President Bush and his top officials did and said regarding the intelligence they had, the intelligence they did not tell us they had, and, in some cases, the intelligence they only said they had.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller: "There is nothing more serious in public life than the decision to go to war - any war. In too many instances in making the case for war, administration officials distorted the facts or said things that were not supported by the facts, and said things that they knew or should have known were not true."
The report found that Colin Powell's U.N. speech, as well as speeches and interviews by Dick Cheney and Condi Rice, National Security Advisor, all ignored evidence that cast doubt on their claims, inflating other unsubstantiated claims, presenting them as certainties.
McCain just recently made the usual claim from those still in denial that every intelligence agency in the world, and every intelligence assessment, reported that Sadaam Hussein had WMD, a claim he should have known was false, even before today's report reminded us that both Deptartment of State and Energy Department intelligence agencies had raised red flags about the WMD claims, red flags ignored by President Bush, red flags his press secretary today claimed never reached the President's sight.
Interview with Richard Clark, counter-terrorism advisor to the last two presidents.
K.O.: I used the word lie, the report does not use the word lie. Are there lies?
R.C.: There certainly are. This is a big report, and what it says is that statements by the president were not substantiated by intelligence, and it says that statements by the president were contradicted by available intelligence.
In other words, they made things up.
And they made them up and gave them to Colin Powell and others, who believed them. I think Colin Powell did not know that he was lying, but he was.
He was given intelligence that people in the intelligence community AT THE TIME knew were not true.
This is not a case of 20/20 hindsight. This is a case of what was available then.
The National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq and weapons of mass destruction was read by SEVEN senators before they voted to go to war. And one of them was the Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Bob Graham, who read it and went to the floor of the senate and said I've read it, I'm Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, it's not pursuesive, there's not a good case here for this war.
So people HAD the opportunity at the time, if they were reading the intelligence that was available to them, so to say that this was something that we only could have known years later, is just not true.
K.O.: We knew about Sen. Grahams doubts, we already knew about the dissedent intelligence agencies, the doubts about the aluminum tubes were instantaneous, the doubts about the clandestine meeting (between al Queda and Iraqis) that never happened, so what are we to make now in light of the political realities of today of Sen. McCain's undiminished enthusiasm for and defense of the war, and specifically his remarkable statement that every intel assessment of the time was screaming WMD?
R.C.: Well, Senator McCain's statements are "contradicted by the facts" too, the facts in a Senate report. The facts that Republican senators voted to approve the report. He's a big proponent of the war, but he's also now justifying the intelligence claims of the president, which now we have the evidence, now we have the proof... four years too late... that those statements were flat out wrong.
These weren't close calls. They made things up.
K.O.: It's hard really to recreate in our minds just how trusting most Democrats were, how most Americans were, and the media truly was, in a patriotic rallying behind the president after 9-11. Does the context of that in any way change the way we should be thinking about this report today?
R.C.: Look Keith, the fact that 80-90% of the American people supported the president and we were all wanting to do something about 9-11 doesn't change the legal responsibility of the congress to do oversight, it doesn't change the legal responsibility of the intelligence community to analyse and report the truth.
And very few of them did.
One of them, the State Department intelligence bureau, was absolutely spot on. You never heard that at the time. You were never told that there was dissenting opinions.
K.O.: Promenent Democrats today said that impeachment was not a remedy to this, but can anybody argue with a straight face, post Lewinsky, that these lies, the blood and treasure that they cost us don't demand some kind of remedy, and is there some other kind of remedy?
R.C.: Well there may be some other kind of remedy. There may be some sort of truth and reconcilliation commission, a process that's been tried in other countries such as South Africa and El Salvador, where, if you come forward and admit that you were in error, admit that you lied, or that you did something, you're forgiven. Otherwise, you are censured in some way.
I just don't think we can let these people back into polite society, and give them jobs on university boards and corporate boards and just pretend that nothing ever happened, when there are 4000 American dead and 25,000 Americans grievously wounded and they'll carry those wounds and suffer all the rest of their lives...
... someone should have to pay in some way for the decisions that they made to mislead the American people.
K.O.: In a weird way, is Scott McClellan's book the passageway from this being a theoretical discussion to almost a textbook on how they managed to sell us this garbage?
R.C.: Scott McClellan's book is further proof, it's sort of the other end of this big senate intelligence report.
But Scott also is asking for forgiveness. He asked me after he left your program when I bumped into him literally coming through a revolving door in a hotel, and he asked me to forgive him. And I think that we do have to forgive people who ask for forgiveness.
The 9-11 families forgave me my inadequacies in dealing with al Queda, and I greatly appreciated that. We do need to forgive people, but first they have to admit they lied.
Clark is the author of the recently released book, "Your Government Failed You: Breaking the Cycle of National Security Disasters".