Wednesday, July 05, 2006

New and Improved: Now With 50% More Wonk!

Jeffrey Lewis and the ArmsControlWonk crew have the good fortune to be graced by the presence of non-proliferation expert Joe Cirincione for a little guest blogging stint. Check regularly for what should be some informed commentary over the coming days - timely too, considering North Korea's recent long range missile follies.

Cirincione's first post out of the gate reminds us of the importance of the missing "Phase II" portion of the Senate's inquiry into Iraq WMD intelligence - the inquiry that was supposed to deal with the Bush administration's manipulation of evidence and other related malfeasance. That is, before Senator Pat Roberts' repeated attempts to hem and haw it into the dustbin of history.

Cirincione provides a useful recap of the actual history - not the revised version. He's right that Byron Dorgan, and those senators supporting the effort to keep the heat on Roberts et al, deserve praise for trying to save this important historical discussion from its unceremonious tumble down the memory hole. This most crucial part of the story deserves a fair hearing at the very least. (While you're over at ArmsControlWonk, take a quick peak at one of the bloggers Cirincione relies on for background. Name might sound familiar.)

Dorgan's efforts are already bearing fruit in the form of testimony from Larry Wilkerson regarding Powell's now infamous speech before the UN:

In the rehearsal and discussion sessions at Langley, the give and take was mostly the Secretary of State trying to eliminate unsubstantiated and/or unhelpful material and others from the White House trying to keep that material in, or add more. One such incident occurred several times and the final time it occurred provided an example of the Secretary’s growing frustration. Repeatedly, the OVP or NCS staff personnel tried to insert into the presentation the alleged meeting in Prague between al-Qaeda operative and 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta and Iraqi intelligence personnel. Repeatedly, Secretary Powell eliminated it based on the DCI’s refusal to corroborate it. Finally, at one of the last Langley rehearsals, Secretary Powell was stopped in mid-presentation by deputy national security advisor Steve Hadley and asked what had happened to the paragraph describing the meeting in Prague. Secretary Powell fixed Hadley with a firm stare and said with some pique, “We took it out, Steve — and it’s staying out.”

Just imagine what a real inquiry might produce. No wonder Roberts is so reluctant to let that occur.

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