David Gregory's question:
Q Mr. President, thank you. I'd like to follow on that. When you talked about Iraq, you and others in the administration talked about a mushroom cloud; then there were no WMD in Iraq. When it came to Iran, you said in October, on October 17th, you warned about the prospect of World War III, when months before you made that statement, this intelligence about them suspending their weapons program back in '03 had already come to light to this administration. So can't you be accused of hyping this threat? And don't you worry that that undermines U.S. credibility?In August the president's intelligence chief says, "Hey, we have something new on Iran," and Mr. Bush asks no follow-ups.
THE PRESIDENT: David, I don't want to contradict an august reporter such as yourself, but I was made aware of the NIE last week. In August, I think it was Mike McConnell came in and said, we have some new information. He didn't tell me what the information was; he did tell me it was going to take a while to analyze.
During the subsequent three months, even as the president and Mr. Cheney are applying their war paint and dancing naked around the fire to the thrilling tom-tom-tom of the war drums, no one from the intelligence community says, "Hey, Mr. President, maybe you should calm down because it turns out the Iranians are not making a bomb."
Liar. You are a simple liar, Mr. President. Liar.
But hold up, Michael, surely Mr. Bush just misspoke. Surely he did not mean to imply that even as he was ranting about World War III and Mr. Cheney was throwing back his head and howling at the moon like a mad dog, no one in his administration warned him off.
Q Mr. President, thank you. Just to follow, I understand what you're saying about when you were informed about the NIE. Are you saying at no point while the rhetoric was escalating, as "World War III" was making it into conversation, at no point nobody from your intelligence team or your administration was saying, maybe you want to back it down a little bit?
THE PRESIDENT: No, nobody ever told me that.
One of two possible conclusions: 1) The entire intelligence leadership of this country should be fired en masses for dereliction of duty, or, 2) Mr. Bush is a liar.
It is becoming clearer by the minute that my first instinct was right: Rumsfeld and assorted neo-cons and toadies out, Gates and McConnell and others in, and suddenly the intelligence community decided enough was enough. Having been cherry-picked, bent-over-without-so-much-as-a-reach-around, and hung out to dry over Iraq, the intelligence community, with new leadership forced on the administration by desperation, an electoral beating and historically low poll numbers, decided "No. Not again."
Which leaves the other conclusion. Mr. Bush is a liar. His vice president is a liar. They lied in an attempt to push us -- and the Israelis -- into war with Iran.
So now, with that conclusion firmly in hand, let's roll back the clock and look at the last war. I am one of those naive souls who has maintained that Mr. Bush was only an incompetent nincompoop, not a criminal. I believed he believed there were WMD in Iraq. I believed that he believed in remaking the Middle East by re-inventing Iraq as a hotter, less yuppie-infested Vermont.
But now, with Mr. Bush's hand so undeniably deep in the cookie jar, we have to give a great deal more credence to the theory that Mr. Bush isn't just an idiot, but a deliberate, coldblooded warmonger.
Maybe its time to amend the Constitution to clarify what constitutes an impeachable crime. Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney are guilty of staining American honor, weakening the country they swore to protect, lying, lying, lying and also lying to the American people, violating their oaths of office.