Washington Times White House correspondent Joseph Curl falsely reported on April 1 that the Robb-Silberman commission's new report on intelligence regarding weapons of mass destruction said "that the Bush administration did not distort evidence about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction program." In fact, the report of the commission, led by Charles S. Robb, former Virginia governor and U.S. senator, and Laurence R. Silberman, an appeals court judge, specifically declined to examine the use of intelligence by policymakers, including President Bush and his administration. Rather, the panel limited its examination to the U.S. intelligence community itself.
Silberman specifically addressed this limitation in a March 31 press conference on the release of the report:
QUESTION: Could your report be read as an exoneration of the president's use of the intelligence, or did you not tackle that question?
SILBERMAN: We did not -- our executive order did not direct us to deal with the use of intelligence by policymakers, and all of us were agreed that that was not part of our inquiry.
WARNER: When you started this work were there a lot of charges being made by critics of the administration and Congress, about news reports, about politicization. And there were two elements to this: One was that in some way policy makers exerted pressure on intelligence analysts to come up with certain conclusions, and two, that the president and others did not accurately convey the caveats that were in the intelligence when they spoke publicly. What are your conclusions on those two points?
SILBERMAN: Well, on the second point, we duck. That is not part of our charter. We did not express any views on policymakers' use of intelligence -- whether Congress or the president. It wasn't part of our charter, and indeed most of us didn't want to get into that issue because it's basically a political question and everybody knows -- you can look at the newspaper and see what people said and make your own judgment. On the former question, as to whether or not there was any policymaker effort to influence the intelligence, we found zip, nothing, nothing to support.