Wallace and Stephanopoulos play dumb with Condoleezza Rice

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

Rice made the rounds on Sunday for likely the last time as SoS and she reiterated the WH's final talking point about Iraq and how everyone just wished they had had better intel before launching America's unprecedented pre-emptive invasion.

As we noted last week, Bush, Rove and Kristol have each echoed that point recently. The media's reaction to the blatant falsehood what somehow it was unknowable in 2003 that Iraq didn't have WMD's? The press has done almost nothing. We suggested the press might be sleep-walking this story because it just brings back bad memories about how it so eagerly signed off on the bogus rationale for war.

Meanwhile, Rice's series of Sunday interviews simply confirmed that the unspoken rule among Beltway elites is that nobody, and we mean nobody, is supposed to ask Rice truly uncomfortable questions about a war she helped engineer.

It literally is a game. The TV hosts ask innocuous questions about Iraq. Rice responds with misleading information knowing full well that her host is never going to call her on it. And then the two dance onto another topic. And by the way, Rice also appeared on CNN's Late Edition, but host Wolf Blitzer didn't even bother to ask the out-going SoS about Iraq. Talk about a gracious host.

For the Sunday low point, we'd have to point to this answer Rice gave to Wallace on Fox News about the intel [emphasis added]:

The fact is, at the time, we believed that they were - that Saddam Hussein had reconstituted this biological and chemical weapons program and was likely making progress on his nuclear program. And that was the assessment of the intelligence community. Now, we have reformed the way that information gets to principals. And if I had it to do over again, yes, I'd have the system in place that we have now, not the system that we had then. But this system of alternative views that are put forward in a more - a crisper and clearer way is important to understanding intelligence...And so while it's fine to go back and say what might we have done differently, the truth of the matter is we don't have that luxury. And we didn't at the time.

See, it was the system's fault. Principals in the WH weren't getting the right intel about Iraq. But fear not, the system has been fixed. Slight problem with Rice's fictionalization of history, and slight problem with Chris Wallace's playing dumb about Rice's answer: The intel system in place for the run-up to Iraq was specifically created by Donald Rumsfeld, and supported by VP Dick Cheney, in order to cherry pick information to make sure principals inside the WH were mislead. Or at least could later claim to have been misled.

A topic worthy of debate, right? But that's not a question Rice is going to have answer on TV.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, Intelligence
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