February 02, 2004

As a follow-up to Friday's post about our "Type-A" President, George Bush is now calling for the establishment of a commission to look into the "intelligence failings" that led to the fiasco in Iraq. Frankly, this should have been done months ago, after the CIA concluded that there were no WMD's in Iraq, but better late than never. By implicitly conceding that he made a mistake, he is in better position to take the issue off the table when he goes before the voters, and certainly is a more honorable course of action than having your shills debate whether or not you ever said Saddam was an "imminent" threat.

He is still trying to have his cake and eat it too, by limiting the focus of the commission, as well as mandating that it not issue a report until after the November election. But "investigations" like the one conducted by Lord Hutton are a rarity here; there is an expectation in Great Britain that an official inquiry will be used to defend the government, as the Hutton Commission did, while in America, the expectation is usually that any comparable inquiry, such as the Tower Commission, will try to uncover official malfeasance. And as Matthew Yglesias writes, any investigation into intelligence breakdowns will necessarily have to deal with the pressure the Administration brought to bear on the CIA before the war to exaggerate WMD claims. Bush's earlier attempt to stack the inquiry looking into 9-11 by nominating Henry Kissinger to head it failed disastrously, and any similar move here will discredit the commission before it starts.

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