The University of Pittsburgh’s Ridgway Center for International Security Studies has just published a Working Paper that purports to answer the question that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence did not: Was the pre-war intelligence about Iraq WMD willfully distorted by the Bush administration?

“Yes,” says the author of the new report, which focuses on the pre-war claims about Iraq’s nuclear program.

Obviously, I agree with this conclusion, as anyone who has read my blog for the past two years knows. And in fact, I am the author of the Working paper: “Deliberating Preventative War: The Strange Case of Iraq’s Disappearing Nuclear Threat” (August 2005, #6).

I want to thank the Center’s Gordon R. Mitchell for chairing the Working Group on Preemptive and Preventive Military Intervention and for alerting me to the recent publication of the Working Paper. Here is part of Gordon’s summary of my work:

In this paper, Rodger [A. Payne] revisits the Iraq War timeline and notices something startling – Bush administration officials were exaggerating threat evidence on Iraq before the intelligence community completed its National Intelligence Estimate in October 2002. This is especially remarkable in light of the fact that key Bush officials were saying that Saddam Hussein was ‘in check’ and ‘living on borrowed time’ as late as February 2001. Noting that the “we were given bad intelligence” excuse does not account for the White House’s exaggeration of threat evidence from February 2001 to October 2002, Payne searches for other explanations and discovers evidence of a systematic effort by Bush administration officials to manipulate public debate. With this effort, Payne picks up where the Senate Select Intelligence Committee dropped the ball…

Payne frames the significance of this strategic deception campaign by examining how it sharply contradicts portions of NSS 2002 that insist on the importance of public deliberation and debate as safeguards that limit preventive war options.

Hopefully, this will soon be a chapter in a new edited volume.

Update: Thanks to commenter nadezhda for noting that I incorrectly blamed the wrong Senate Committee for its lack of oversight on this issue.

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