Yo, Ayatollahs!

By MAUREEN DOWD

ASHINGTON

The C.I.A. is snooping around itself and other spy agencies to see if prewar reports of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and ties to Al Qaeda were exaggerated.

The suspense is killing me.

The delicious part is that the review was suggested by Donald Rumsfeld, a main culprit in twisting the intelligence to justify a strike on Baghdad. It’s like O. J. vowing to find the real killer.

When the C.I.A. reports weren’t incriminating enough about Saddam last fall, Rummy started his own little C.I.A. within the Pentagon to ferret out information to back up the hawks’ imperial schemes. It will be interesting to see how a man who never admits he’s wrong wriggles out of admitting he’s wrong, after his investigation fingers him for hyping.

When Colin Powell went to the U.N. in February to make the case for attacking Iraq, he raised the specter of 25,000 liters of anthrax, tons of chemical weapons and a dictator on the brink of a nuclear bomb.

Flash forward to May. Stymied U.S. arms inspectors are getting ready to leave Iraq, having uncovered moldy vacuum cleaners, pesticides and playground equipment, but nary a WMD. Those jungle gyms can be treacherous. One of the weapons hunters compared his work to a Scooby-Doo mystery — stuff seems pretty scary at first, but then turns out to be explainable.

Even before the war, some C.I.A. analysts and British spymasters were complaining of puffed-up intelligence. Now Congress wants to know if it was flawed as well.

As Representative Jane Harman, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, put it: “This could conceivably be the greatest intelligence hoax of all time.”

Her innocence is touching… New York Times

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