The wheels are coming off Bush’s presidency, just like they did for his father a decade ago. After Desert Storm, Daddy Bush’s sky-high approval ratings seemed certain to ensure his re-election. But that didn’t happen because an ex-Arkansas governor named Bill Clinton wound up booting him out of the White House. Like a cocaine cowboy, partying hard until his stash is gone, George W. Bush now faces a horrific crash as intelligence failures, a record-deficit budget, a jobless economy and two wars abroad combine to pull him down.
Roiled in the waves of a stormy political sea, the much-feared Loose Cannon broke free and rumbled across the deck last week when David Kay, the lead investigator hired by the CIA to find Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction, quit his job and bluntly admitted: “We were all wrong.” Kay then concluded that, for the sake of its international credibility, the United States must immediately launch an independent investigation to determine how America’s top intelligence agencies got it so wrong on Iraq.
Predictably, President Bush reverted to his well-used strategy of denial right out of the chute, saying no conclusions could be drawn until the investigations of the Iraq Survey Group were finalized. The next day, our noble leader did a complete about-face and declared that he would appoint a committee to investigate “pre-war intelligence failures” in Iraq. The results of the investigation, however, will not come until well after this year’s elections.
Democrats, simultaneously stunned at their complicity in sending the country to “preemptive” war and dancing with glee at finally having The Great Evader on the ropes, demanded a fully independent investigation and—no great surprise here—a report prior to the elections.
Politics aside, the enormity of the task at hand, as well as the believability of any finding, present the nation with a daunting task. To figure out how and where America’s very expensive and very secretive intelligence agencies left the tracks, one would have to be privy to the very basics of intelligence gathering and then go through every step of collection, analysis, interpretation and conclusion. In other words, any credible investigation must seek to shine a very bright light into the hidden corners of a dark and sinister world.
But here’s the big question: “Who will spook America’s spooks?” Since little if any of the information necessary to determine how and if American intelligence agencies failed, or were politically manipulated, can be released to the public, we will likely be presented with conclusions coming from behind the same closed-door briefings of the White House and Congressional intelligence committees who told us we absolutely had to go to war in the first place because of the looming threats posed by Iraq. The citizenry, however, will have absolutely no way of knowing whether they’re full of beans yet again—which creates a credibility quandary from which Bush isn’t likely to emerge un