According to Walter Pincus in the WaPo, Senators negotiating the parameters of the Intelligence Committee probe into use of pre-war intelligence have reached a tentative agreement on moving forward.
The most contentious part of the second phase — comparing public officials’ prewar statements to the intelligence available at the time — has for now been turned over to the committee staff for additional work. The staff has been directed to collect major statements about Iraq’s weapons programs by administration officials and members of Congress, as well as any relevant intelligence circulating at the time, whether it supported or undercut the statements, officials said.
“We want to look at all the intelligence community work and see how it was used,” Feinstein said. Under the original plan of Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), the process was to have been simpler: Statements were to be analyzed to see only if there was intelligence that substantiated them, without looking at contrary intelligence.
Well, that is good news — not so much for the Administration, but for that portion of the American public that has been wanting the truth…well, it’s about time. Pat Roberts must be having a cow. And I have to wonder, did Trent Lott step up and vote this through because Roberts sure wasn’t likely to be the “open Pandora’s box” vote.
“We are not looking to place blame,” Feinstein said, “but if the president said something like the 16 words on uranium, somebody put them in there, and we want to know what [intelligence] there was before” the speechwriter. She suggested that Robert Joseph, then the National Security Council staff member supervising preparation of the Iraq weapons material in the speech and now undersecretary of state for arms control, might be the type of witness called to testify.
As another example of what she thought should be covered, Feinstein pointed to intelligence covered in then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell’s Feb. 5, 2003, speech to the U.N. Security Council. He mentioned reports of several Iraqi programs — later proved incorrect — including allegations that Iraq had mobile factories for making biological agents, which came from a source known as “Curveball” who had been flagged by a CIA station chief as unreliable. “There was discrediting information in the mill at the time, and we want to find what went to Powell,” Feinstein said.
Well, hot diggity. Maybe they can ask Rove what he did to Tenet’s “I take responsibility” draft after the whole 16 words fiasco. Now that is a hearing I’d pay to see.