L’armée polonaise a découvert des obus au sarin en Irak. (…) « Il est important de constater que ces munitions avaient été transportées hors de leur dépôt et enterrées afin de ne pas être trouvées par les inspecteurs de l’Onu », a estimé le chef du WSI. (…) Le ministre polonais de la Défense Jerzy Szmajdzinski a affirmé que la découverte de ces missiles démontrait que Saddam Hussein avait menti et ne s’était pas débarrassé des armes détenues illégalement par l’Irak. (…) « Il ne fait aucun doute qu’il s’agit d’obus datant de la période 1980-88, du genre de ceux utilisés contre les Kurdes et dans la guerre Iran-Irak », ont affirmé les forces polonaises dans un communiqué. Cette information a été confirmée par l’armée américaine. L’Irak a reconnu avoir produit des munitions au cyclo-sarin dans les années 1980 dans le cadre de son conflit avec l’Iran, mais avait promis de détruire ses stocks et de cesser de produire ces armes comme l’exigent les résolutions adoptées par l’Onu après la guerre du Golfe, en 1991. Wojciech Moskwa (2 juillet 2004)
Les inspecteurs en désarmement des Nations unies ont découvert 20 moteurs utilisés pour les missiles irakiens A Samoud 2 dans un dépôt de ferraille en Jordanie, en compagnie d’autre matériel pouvant être utilisé pour produire des armes de destruction massive, a annoncé mercredi le chef des inspecteurs. Le Nouvel Observateur (2004)
The United Nations has determined that Saddam Hussein shipped weapons of mass destruction components as well as medium-range ballistic missiles before, during and after the U.S.-led war against Iraq in 2003. The UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission briefed the Security Council on new findings that could help trace the whereabouts of Saddam’s missile and WMD program. The briefing contained satellite photographs that demonstrated the speed with which Saddam dismantled his missile and WMD sites before and during the war. He said the Iraqi facilities were dismantled and sent both to Europe and around the Middle East. at the rate of about 1,000 tons of metal a month. Destinations included Jordan, the Netherlands and Turkey. (…) In the Dutch city of Rotterdam, an SA-2 surface-to-air missile, one of at least 12, was discovered in a junk yard, replete with UN tags. In Jordan, UN inspectors found 20 SA-2 engines as well as components for solid-fuel for missiles. East West services (2004)
Que nous disent en effet aussi bien lord Butler que les membres de la commission sénatoriale d’enquêtes à Washington ? Que ni Bush ni Blair n’ont jamais menti à leur opinion de manière consciente et délibérée. Ils ont pensé jusqu’au bout (la diplomatie française aussi, d’ailleurs) que Saddam Hussein disposait de capacités de destruction massive bien réelles et dont l’emploi était devenu de plus en plus incertain. (…) Enfin, il faut verser au dossier le témoignage de l’ancien chef des services secrets roumains Ion Pacepa, qui a souvent été fiable, selon lequel les forces armées du pacte de Varsovie, soviétiques mais aussi roumaines, avaient mis au point un plan de liquidation des armes chimiques et bactériologiques en cas d’arrivée imminente des Américains. Cette opération, dont Pacepa donne le nom de code, aurait déjà été réalisée dans les années 80 avec la Libye de Kadhafi. La crainte, en effet, qu’une utilisation décentralisée et erratique du chimique, pour ne pas parler du bactériologique, n’entraîne une force conventionnelle américaine à des représailles très massives, était dominante à l’époque à Moscou. On va ajouter qu’à partir de l’avènement d’Andropov en 1982, l’Union soviétique avait commencé sans trop le dire à reprendre un à un les jouets les plus dangereux que Brejnev et les siens avaient laissé filer vers le tiers-monde. Mais il n’y a rien d’invraisemblable à ce que ces protocoles, élaborés en leur temps par l’Armée rouge et le KGB, aient tout simplement servi à Saddam pour supprimer au dernier moment les armes chimiques et bactériologiques les plus dangereuses dont il disposait, dans le but d’éviter tout incident dès lors qu’il venait d’accepter à l’automne 2002 la reprise des inspections de l’agence de Vienne. Manifestement, les services secrets anglais et américains n’ont pas compris cette manoeuvre de «maskirovska» (feinte, en russe) si typiquement soviétique que le lieutenant-colonel des services, Vladimir Poutine, ne puisse empêcher de signaler le premier avec une ironie triomphale mal contenue à Washington en faisant remarquer, dès les premiers jours de l’occupation de l’Irak, que les armes de destruction massive ne seraient jamais trouvées. Il en savait quelque chose. L’autre erreur, la plus grossière qui ait été commise, provient d’un analyste en chef de la CIA chargé du dossier nucléaire et qui a continué à prétendre pendant un an et demi que le matériel de centrifugeuses acheté illégalement par l’Irak en l’an 2000 avait pour but de produire de l’uranium militaire enrichi. Or, quelques semaines seulement après cette assertion, une contre-expertise tout à la fois interne à la CIA et provenant du service rival et militaire la DIA avait montré de façon convaincante que ces centrifugeuses ne pouvaient servir qu’à fabriquer des réacteurs de rockets. (…) En revanche, dans la seconde affaire souvent invoquée à charge, qui concerne le nucléaire irakien, c’est l’Administration, et non ses détracteurs, qui avait raison. Le dénommé Joseph Wilson, ancien ambassadeur au Niger et militant du Parti démocrate, avait été envoyé à Niamey pour enquêter sur les possibles contacts, voire les contrats secrets qui auraient été noués entre le gouvernement nigérien et les services secrets irakiens aux fins d’acheter de l’uranium brut des mines d’Arlit qui fournirent longtemps notre propre force de frappe. Après un entretien assez naïf avec le président Tandja – qui fit tout de même assassiner son prédécesseur, lequel fut mon ancien élève -, le sagace Wilson avait conclu qu’il n’en était rien. Lorsque l’on découvrit que le soi-disant contrat était un faux fabriqué dans une officine, on décida partout que le compte des Anglais et des Américains était bon. Un nouveau mensonge intéressé. Et lorsque, pour se défendre, des émissaires de Cheney et de Rumsfeld communiquèrent en sous-main à la presse le fait que le dénommé Wilson – qui les incendiait dans cette même presse – était marié à un officier supérieur de la CIA, le concert se fit accablant. Or Wilson est bien celui qui a menti le plus ouvertement en prétendant avoir été choisi pour sa mission par le département d’État, alors que la commission sénatoriale a tout simplement révélé que c’est sa femme, à la CIA, qui a insisté auprès de Tenet pour qu’on envoie son mari. Et pour cause, Wilson ne voulait pas davantage apparaître dans ses liens personnels avec le service de renseignements américains, qu’il ne voulait reconnaître qu’il partait avec la mission de ridiculiser l’enquête britannique qui faisait une nouvelle fois apparaître l’incompétence de Langley. Or c’est bien le MI 6 qui a eu vent de ce trafic d’uranium et fabriqué le faux comme il est courant dans le renseignement, pour masquer l’origine de sa source – sans doute un membre du gouvernement du Niger et sans doute aussi un pays ami et voisin, peut-être ancien, le Nigeria, peut-être très nouvel ami, la Libye. On peut donc considérer que, si Saddam a eu bien du mal à reconstituer le potentiel industriel nucléaire que l’agence de Vienne – grâce surtout à l’excellent travail du professeur Kelly qui s’est depuis suicidé – avait réussi à démanteler, ces services secrets dopés par le produit fabuleux de la contrebande pétrolière continuaient, eux, à faire leur marché de matières fissiles, sans doute en attendant des jours meilleurs. Alexandre Adler
L’Irak aurait bien cherché à prendre des contacts en Afrique pour se procurer de l’uranium: c’est ce qui ressort du rapport de la commission du renseignement du Sénat américain rendu public vendredi et qui met en cause les informations de la CIA sur la possession par l’Irak d’armes de destruction massive. Le rapport du Sénat vient ainsi paradoxalement appuyer une assertion de la présidence, sur laquelle la Maison Blanche était ensuite revenue. Dans son discours de 2003 sur l’état de l’Union, le président Bush avait en effet fait état d’informations britanniques sur des tentatives irakiennes pour se procure de l’uranium en Afrique. La Maison Blanche avait ensuite déclaré que les informations étaient trop peu solides et n’auraient pas dû être mentionnées dans un discours de cette importance. L’ancien directeur de la CIA George Tenet avait pris le blâme sur lui, affirmant qu’il aurait dû supprimer cette mention dans le discours présidentiel. Pourtant, selon le rapport publié vendredi, des renseignements britanniques et aussi français avaient averti, de manière séparée, les Etats-Unis de possibles tentatives irakiennes pour se procurer de l’uranium au Niger, ancienne colonie française où les ressources en uranium sont exploitées par des sociétés françaises. L’ancien Premier ministre nigérien Ibrahim Mayaki aurait ainsi déclaré avoir rencontré en 1999 des responsables irakiens intéressés par «une extension des liens commerciaux» entre les deux pays. Ibrahim Mayaki avait interprété ce « commerce » comme signifiant une offre d’achat d’uranium. La rencontre a eu lieu mais l’ancien Premier ministre du Niger affirme avoir détourné la conversation de l’uranium, peu désireux qu’il était de conclure un marché avec un Etat se trouvant sous embargo de l’ONU. Associated Press
Even when viewed through a post-war lens, documentary evidence of messages are consistent with the Iraqi Survey Group’s conclusion that Saddam was at least keeping a WMD program primed for a quick re-start the moment the UN Security Council lifted sanctions. Iraqi Perpectives Project (March 2006)
Captured Iraqi documents have uncovered evidence that links the regime of Saddam Hussein to regional and global terrorism, including a variety of revolutionary, liberation, nationalist, and Islamic terrorist organizations. While these documents do not reveal direct coordination and assistance between the Saddam regime and the al Qaeda network, they do indicate that Saddam was willing to use, albeit cautiously, operatives affiliated with al Qaeda as long as Saddam could have these terrorist operatives monitored closely. Because Saddam’s security organizations and Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network operated with similar aims (at least in the short term), considerable overlap was inevitable when monitoring, contacting, financing, and training the same outside groups. This created both the appearance of and, in some ways, a de facto link between the organizations. At times, these organizations would work together in pursuit of shared goals but still maintain their autonomy and independence because of innate caution and mutual distrust. Though the execution of Iraqi terror plots was not always successful, evidence shows that Saddam’s use of terrorist tactics and his support for terrorist groups remained strong up until the collapse of the regime. Iraqi Perspectives Project (Saddam and Terrorism, Nov. 2007, released Mar. 2008)
Beginning in 1994, the Fedayeen Saddam opened its own paramilitary training camps for volunteers, graduating more than 7,200 « good men racing full with courage and enthusiasm » in the first year. Beginning in 1998, these camps began hosting « Arab volunteers from Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, ‘the Gulf,’ and Syria. » It is not clear from available evidence where all of these non-Iraqi volunteers who were « sacrificing for the cause » went to ply their newfound skills. Before the summer of 2002, most volunteers went home upon the completion of training. But these camps were humming with frenzied activity in the months immediately prior to the war. As late as January 2003, the volunteers participated in a special training event called the « Heroes Attack. » This training event was designed in part to prepare regional Fedayeen Saddam commands to « obstruct the enemy from achieving his goal and to support keeping peace and stability in the province. « Study (Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia)
The information that the Russians have collected from their sources inside the American Central Command in Doha is that the United States is convinced that occupying Iraqi cities are impossible, and that they have changed their tactic. Captured Iraqi document (« Letter from Russian Official to Presidential Secretary Concerning American Intentions in Iraq », March 25, 2003)
La raison pour laquelle je continue de dire qu’il y a un lien entre l’Irak, Saddam et Al-Qaida est parce qu’il y a un lien entre l’Irak et Al-Qaida. (…) Cette administration n’a jamais dit que les attentats du 11/9 ont été orchestrés entre Saddam et Al Qaeda. Nous avons dit qu’il y avait de nombreux contacts entre Saddam Hussein et Al Qaeda. George W. Bush (Washington Post, 2004)
Once children are in Texas, Texans know it is in our best interest and their interest to educate them, regardless of the nationality of their parents. GW Bush (1995)
Bush was born in New Haven, Conn., and his family moved to West Texas seeking to establish an economic beachhead in the region’s oil industry. With a grandfather who served as a U.S. senator from Connecticut and a father who worked as an oil executive before leading the CIA and eventually becoming president, Bush had plenty of blue in his blood. (The Andover-Yale-Harvard trifecta didn’t hurt, either.)
In his gubernatorial reelection victory in 1998, Bush won 49 percent of the Hispanic vote and 27 percent of the black vote – a strong showing for a Republican in Texas.
In many ways, Bush’s commitment to nation-building was primarily a rhetorical tool to build domestic support for military operations. In the minds of key foreign policy players on Bush’s team, regime change, not rebuilding civil societies, was the real goal. Memories of the fall of the Soviet Union made officials such as Vice President Dick Cheney optimistic that such transformations were possible on the cheap. This lack of commitment became clear when U.S. resources were hastily diverted from Afghanistan toward Iraq, and when then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld emphasized in the spring of 2002 that the Afghan people would have to handle most of the reconstruction themselves. Ironically, President Obama now finds himself deeply involved in nation-building projects in Afghanistan and Iraq, despite the ambivalence of the president who launched those wars.
Cheney opposed Bush’s decision to fire Rumsfeld and resented the fact that the president would not pardon « Scooter » Libby, a Cheney aide who was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice. Bush rejected the vice president’s preference for a hard-line stance toward North Korea and Iran, and it was Bush, not Cheney, who pushed for the troop surge in Iraq in 2007 as well as the TARP bailouts in 2008. And according to reports on Bush’s memoir, the president even considered removing Cheney from the 2004 presidential ticket, given the vice president’s « Darth Vader » reputation. Julian E. Zelizer
Attention: des mensonges peuvent en cacher d’autres!
Cowboy ignorant, raciste impitoyable, obsédé du nation-building, marionnette de Cheney, démolisseur du conservatisme …
Et ou un ancien président Bush, jusqu’a present particulierement silencieux (penser a Carter ou Bush) malgre la férocité des attaques contre lui y compris par son successeur et sa claque médiatique, sort ses mémoires …
Derriere les véritables mythes que continuent a colporter nos désormais si susceptibles medias et rappelés par l’historien de Princeton Julian E. Zelizer …
(étrangement discret toutefois sur les évidents mensonges sur les prétendus mensonges sur les ADM de Saddam – sur un total de… 935, s’il vous plait! -, le débat n’ayant jamais porté sur l’existence, a laquelle croyait l’ensemble de la communauté du renseignement = et reconfirmé tout récemment comme il se doit par… Wikileaks! -, mais sur leur dangerosité et les moyens d’y faire face ?) …
Notamment son bilan largement pro-immigration, ses désaccords avec Cheney (qu’il pensera un moment remplacer), ses doutes sur le nation building et, comme vient de le confirmer le raz-de-maree des elections de mi-mandat, l’héritage d’un conservatisme américain en aucun cas diminué …
Que Bush avait délibérémment joue, ce qui se retournera comme on le sait contre lui (comme quoi le crime ne paie pas !), la carte du tant du plouc et du cowboy que de l’autodérision systématique sur ses capacités intellectuelles …
Le tout pour faire oublier, face a la notoire tete d’oeuf Gore ou l’indécrottable patricien francophone Kerry et pendant que d’autres ou les memes en rajoutaient sur leur CV ou, perdus sans leur prompteur, se réécrivaient a 33 ans a peine des vies entieres), sa réelle position de petit-fils de sénateur du Connecticut et fils de président ex-millionnaire du ptrole et patron du renseignement …
Comme son score le placant dans les 16% supérieurs pour le SAT (soit 1206 contre un Kennedy terminant le lycée 65e sur 110), sa licence d’histoire de Yale et sa maitrise de gestion de Harvard !
A challenge to everything you think you know
Julian E. Zelizer
The Washington Post
Sunday, November 7, 2010
1. George W. Bush was an uninformed Texas cowboy.
Nobody loved this myth more than Bush himself. During his 2000 campaign against Vice President Al Gore, then-Gov. Bush went to great lengths to depict himself as a down-home Texan whom voters could relate to. Even on a weekend when he was considering as momentous a choice as his running mate, reporters watched as Bush climbed into his SUV and drove down the dirt roads of his Crawford ranch.
But that image was at odds with his upbringing. Bush was born in New Haven, Conn., and his family moved to West Texas seeking to establish an economic beachhead in the region’s oil industry. With a grandfather who served as a U.S. senator from Connecticut and a father who worked as an oil executive before leading the CIA and eventually becoming president, Bush had plenty of blue in his blood. (The Andover-Yale-Harvard trifecta didn’t hurt, either.)
Again in 2004, Republicans deployed the president’s folksy image and manner of speech, contrasting Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry (the elitist who windsurfs off Nantucket) with Bush (the guy you’d rather have a beer with – even if he doesn’t drink).
Bush’s image backfired later, of course. As the administration stumbled in crises from Katrina to Iraq, the reputation that had helped Bush win office turned into a huge liability as Americans increasingly questioned his competence.
2. « Compassionate conservatism » was just a campaign slogan.
Many critics dismiss Bush’s talk about « compassionate conservatism » as nothing more than a cynical ploy to win over moderate voters in 2000. Liberals never believed that Bush truly wanted to bring racial and ethnic diversity to the Republican Party or that he accepted the need for the federal government to deal with entrenched social problems. The administration’s bungled response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster, along with regressive fiscal policies that disproportionately benefited wealthier Americans, also seemed to contradict the promise of compassion.
Yet, as Vanderbilt University historian Gary Gerstle has shown, Bush was personally invested in compassionate conservatism. While growing up in Texas and later serving as governor, Bush constantly befriended and worked with members of his state’s Hispanic community and fought for the rights of immigrants. « Once children are in Texas, » he said in 1995, « Texans know it is in our best interest and their interest to educate them, regardless of the nationality of their parents. » In his gubernatorial reelection victory in 1998, Bush won 49 percent of the Hispanic vote and 27 percent of the black vote – a strong showing for a Republican in Texas. (It is unsurprising that, in his memoir, Bush reportedly describes the accusations of racism he experienced in the aftermath of Katrina as « the worst moment of my presidency. »)
Bush’s experience as a born-again Christian led him to empathize with individuals’ personal struggles and to respect the role of religion in civic life. As president, he insisted that the war on terrorism must not become a war against Muslims. And his signature legislative accomplishments included expansive domestic programs, such as the No Child Left Behind Act (a huge extension of the federal government into primary education) and the Medicare prescription drug benefit (the biggest expansion of the system since its creation 40 years earlier).
Compassionate conservatism struggled not because Bush lacked conviction but because the GOP turned against it. Hard-line congressional Republicans stifled his efforts to liberalize immigration policy, for example. By 2006 and 2007, with his political capital rapidly diminishing because of the war in Iraq, Bush had little ability to fight back.
3. Bush committed America to nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan.
After the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush appeared to commit the United States to remaking enemy nations into pro-Western democracies. In Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States destroyed the governments in power and touted an ambitious « freedom agenda » far exceeding anything even Woodrow Wilson ever conceived. « Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe – because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty, » Bush said in November 2003.
Yet in many ways, Bush’s commitment to nation-building was primarily a rhetorical tool to build domestic support for military operations. In the minds of key foreign policy players on Bush’s team, regime change, not rebuilding civil societies, was the real goal. Memories of the fall of the Soviet Union made officials such as Vice President Dick Cheney optimistic that such transformations were possible on the cheap. This lack of commitment became clear when U.S. resources were hastily diverted from Afghanistan toward Iraq, and when then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld emphasized in the spring of 2002 that the Afghan people would have to handle most of the reconstruction themselves.
Ironically, President Obama now finds himself deeply involved in nation-building projects in Afghanistan and Iraq, despite the ambivalence of the president who launched those wars.
4. Dick Cheney ran the Bush White House.
The Bush era produced a stream of good books examining the vice president’s hidden influence. We learned how this crafty insider expanded executive power and shaped foreign policy by relying on a network of loyal advisers. In these accounts, Bush appears as a puppet to the real leader, Cheney, who lurked in the shadows.
However, much of the subsequent writing about the Bush presidency – including works by journalists such as The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward – challenges this portrait. We have begun to see instead that Bush, surrounded by political advisers such as Karl Rove, didn’t allow power to move too far away from his control.
Cheney opposed Bush’s decision to fire Rumsfeld and resented the fact that the president would not pardon « Scooter » Libby, a Cheney aide who was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice. Bush rejected the vice president’s preference for a hard-line stance toward North Korea and Iran, and it was Bush, not Cheney, who pushed for the troop surge in Iraq in 2007 as well as the TARP bailouts in 2008. And according to reports on Bush’s memoir, the president even considered removing Cheney from the 2004 presidential ticket, given the vice president’s « Darth Vader » reputation.
5. Bush left conservatism in ruins.
On election night in 2008, the conservative era appeared to be over, and the age of Obama seemed set to begin.
Except it didn’t happen that way. From the early months of the Obama administration, congressional Republicans proved remarkably disciplined. Only a few broke ranks by voting for the stimulus bill, and frustration over the economy and health-care reform – together with effective lobbying by conservative organizations – contributed to the strength and reach of the tea party movement. A recent poll by The Post, the Kaiser Foundation and Harvard University found that Americans dislike government more now than they did 10 years ago (though they support many specific programs).
A powerful network of conservative donors and political operators, ranging from the Koch brothers to Dick Armey, have offered organizational and financial support to conservative activists and politicians, while conservative media outlets have given the right a powerful base from which to attack Obama. The Republican victories in the midterm elections suggest that, for all the problems that still face the GOP, conservatism is alive and well – even if it is a far different brand of conservatism than the kind Bush championed when he took office in 2001.
Julian E. Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, is the editor of « The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment. »
January 14, 2001
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed …
— W. B. Yeats, « The Second Coming »
A week from today, the sun will rise on the second Bush presidency in a generation, in what for some may be a day of trepidation. Does Bush the Younger have what it takes to lead the nation in the new millennium?
It’s a question that transcends concerns about George W. Bush’s conservatism or a path to power marred by youthful indiscretions. It’s not about ideology or character; it’s a question of cognitive capacity.
The Spanish physician Juan Huarte in 1575 proposed one of the earliest recorded definitions of intelligence: learning ability, imaginativeness and good judgment. Undoubtedly, the mantle of the modern U.S. presidency imposes a steep learning curve and demands vision, wisdom and discretion.
Equally clear is this: Sheer intellectual brilliance does not cut it in the Oval Office.
In terms of brute brainpower, the smartest postwar presidents were Richard Nixon, a Duke Law School graduate with a reported IQ of 143; Jimmy Carter, who graduated in the top 10 percent of his Naval Academy class; and Rhodes scholar Bill Clinton, a graduate of Georgetown University and Yale Law School. Deeply flawed presidencies all, despite their potential.
In contrast, take high school graduate Harry Truman — railroad worker, clerk, bookkeeper, farmer, road inspector and small-town postmaster — or Ronald Reagan, sports announcer and B-list actor with mediocre college credentials.
Despite their intellectual limitations, both achieved substantial political success as president. And, to press home the point, there is Franklin D. Roosevelt, a top-tier president in rankings of historical greatness, whom the late Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes branded « a second-rate intellect but a first-class temperament. »
Huarte’s notion of intelligence comprises a mix of mental acumen and emotional discernment that provides a sound foundation for modern-day presidential success.
To put it bluntly, the president need not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but he does need a full deck of cards. He must be comfortable in his own skin, free of emotional demons, and surround himself with competent people. With apologies to Saturday Night Live’s Stuart Smalley, the successful president need not be a towering giant, he just needs to be good enough, smart enough — and, doggone-it, people must like him.
George W. Bush can be likable and charming. But, as the New York Times pondered in a front-page article on June 19, 2000, « is he smart enough to be president? »
Unlike John F. Kennedy, who obtained an IQ score of 119, or Al Gore, who achieved scores of 133 and 134 on intelligence tests taken at the beginning of his high school freshman and senior years, no IQ data are available for George W. Bush. But we do know that the young Bush registered a score of 1206 on the SAT, the most widely used test of college aptitude. (The more cerebral Al Gore obtained 1355.)
Statistically, Bush’s test performance places him in the top 16 percent of prospective college students — hardly the mark of a dimwit. Of course, the SAT is not designed as an IQ test. But it is highly correlated with general intelligence, to the tune of .80. In plain language, the SAT is two parts a measure of general intelligence and one part a measure of specific scholastic reasoning skills and abilities.
If Bush could score in the top 16 percent of college applicants on the SAT, he would almost certainly rank higher on tests of general intelligence, which are normed with reference to the general population. But even if his rank remained constant at the 84th-percentile level of his SAT score, it would translate to an IQ score of 115.
It’s tempting to employ Al Gore’s IQ:SAT ratio of 134:1355 as a formula for estimating Bush’s probable intelligence quotient — an exercise in fuzzy statistics that predicts a score of 119. If the number sounds familiar, it’s precisely the IQ score attributed to Kennedy, whom Princeton political scientist Fred Greenstein, in « The Presidential Difference, » commended as « a quick study, whose wit was an indication of a subtle mind. »
As a final clue to Bush’s cognitive capacity, consider data from Joseph Matarazzo’s leading text on intelligence and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth: The average IQ is about 105 for high school graduates, 115 for college graduates and 125 for people with advanced professional degrees. With his MBA from Harvard Business School, it’s not unreasonable to assume that Bush’s IQ surpasses the 115 of the average bachelor’s-degree-only college graduate.
George W. Bush has often been underestimated. Almost certainly, he’s received a bad rap on the count of cognitive capacity. Indications are that, in the arena of mental ability, Bush is in the same league as John F. Kennedy, who graduated 65th in his high-school class of 110 and, in the words of one biographer, « stumbled through Latin, French, mathematics, and English but made respectable marks in physics and history. »
The feisty, sometimes-irreverent Bush’s mental acuity may lack a little of the sharpness of his tongue, but plainly it is sharp enough. The real test for the president-elect will be whether he possesses the emotional intelligence — the triumph of reason over rigidity and restraint over impulse — to steer the course.
Aubrey Immelman is a political psychologist and an associate professor of psychology at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University. You may write to him in care of the St. Cloud Times, P.O. Box 768, St. Cloud, MN 56302.
July 26, 2004
Updated: August 23, 2004
Two intelligence investigations show Bush had plenty of reason to believe what he said in his 2003 State of the Union Address.
The famous “16 words” in President Bush’s Jan. 28, 2003 State of the Union address turn out to have a basis in fact after all, according to two recently released investigations in the US and Britain.
Bush said then, “The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa .” Some of his critics called that a lie, but the new evidence shows Bush had reason to say what he did.
A British intelligence review released July 14 calls Bush’s 16 words “well founded.”
A separate report by the US Senate Intelligence Committee said July 7 that the US also had similar information from “a number of intelligence reports,” a fact that was classified at the time Bush spoke.
Ironically, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who later called Bush’s 16 words a “lie”, supplied information that the Central Intelligence Agency took as confirmation that Iraq may indeed have been seeking uranium from Niger.
Both the US and British investigations make clear that some forged Italian documents, exposed as fakes soon after Bush spoke, were not the basis for the British intelligence Bush cited, or the CIA’s conclusion that Iraq was trying to get uranium.
None of the new information suggests Iraq ever nailed down a deal to buy uranium, and the Senate report makes clear that US intelligence analysts have come to doubt whether Iraq was even trying to buy the stuff. In fact, both the White House and the CIA long ago conceded that the 16 words shouldn’t have been part of Bush’s speech.
But what he said – that Iraq sought uranium – is just what both British and US intelligence were telling him at the time. So Bush may indeed have been misinformed, but that’s not the same as lying.
The « 16 words » in Bush’s State of the Union Address on Jan. 28, 2003 have been offered as evidence that the President led the US into war using false information intentionally. The new reports show Bush accurately stated what British intelligence was saying, and that CIA analysts believed the same thing.
The « 16 Words »
During the State the Union Address on January 28, 2003, President Bush said:
Bush: The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.
The Butler Report
After nearly a six-month investigation, a special panel reported to the British Parliament July 14 that British intelligence had indeed concluded back in 2002 that Saddam Hussein was seeking to buy uranium. The review panel was headed by Lord Butler of Brockwell, who had been a cabinet secretary under five different Prime Ministers and who is currently master of University College, Oxford.
The Butler report said British intelligence had « credible » information — from several sources — that a 1999 visit by Iraqi officials to Niger was for the purpose of buying uranium:
Butler Report: It is accepted by all parties that Iraqi officials visited Niger in 1999. The British Government had intelligence from several different sources indicating that this visit was for the purpose of acquiring uranium. Since uranium constitutes almost three-quarters of Niger’s exports, the intelligence was credible.
The Butler Report affirmed what the British government had said about the Niger uranium story back in 2003, and specifically endorsed what Bush said as well.
Butler Report: By extension, we conclude also that the statement in President Bush’s State of the Union Address of 28 January 2003 that “The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa” was well-founded.
The Senate Intelligence Committee Report
The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence reported July 7, 2004 that the CIA had received reports from a foreign government (not named, but probably Britain) that Iraq had actually concluded a deal with Niger to supply 500 tons a year of partially processed uranium ore, or « yellowcake. » That is potentially enough to produce 50 nuclear warheads.
Wilson: Bush’s Words « The Lie »
(From a web chat sponsored by Kerry for President Oct. 29, 2003)
*** Joe Wilson (Oct 29, 2003 11:24:53 AM)
I would remind you that had Mr. Cheney taken into consideration my report as well as 2 others submitted on this subject, rather than the forgeries
*** Joe Wilson (Oct 29, 2003 11:25:06 AM)
the lie would never have been in President Bush’s State of the Union address
*** Joe Wilson (Oct 29, 2003 11:25:14 AM)
so when they ask, « Who betrayed the President? »
*** Joe Wilson (Oct 29, 2003 11:25:30 AM)
They need to point the finger at the person who inserted the 16 words, not at the person who found the truth of the matter.
The Senate report said the CIA then asked a « former ambassador » to go to Niger and report. That is a reference to Joseph Wilson — who later became a vocal critic of the President’s 16 words. The Senate report said Wilson brought back denials of any Niger-Iraq uranium sale, and argued that such a sale wasn’t likely to happen. But the Intelligence Committee report also reveals that Wilson brought back something else as well — evidence that Iraq may well have wanted to buy uranium.
Wilson reported that he had met with Niger’s former Prime Minister Ibrahim Mayaki, who said that in June 1999 he was asked to meet with a delegation from Iraq to discuss « expanding commercial relations » between the two countries.
Based on what Wilson told them, CIA analysts wrote an intelligence report saying former Prime Minister Mayki « interpreted ‘expanding commercial relations’ to mean that the (Iraqi) delegation wanted to discuss uranium yellowcake sales. » In fact, the Intelligence Committee report said that « for most analysts » Wilson’s trip to Niger « lent more credibility to the original Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports on the uranium deal. »
The subject of uranium sales never actually came up in the meeting, according to what Wilson later told the Senate Intelligence Committee staff. He quoted Mayaki as saying that when he met with the Iraqis he was wary of discussing any trade issues at all because Iraq remained under United Nations sanctions. According to Wilson, Mayaki steered the conversation away from any discussion of trade.
For that reason, Wilson himself has publicly dismissed the significance of the 1999 meeting. He said on NBC’s Meet the Press May 2, 2004:
Wilson: …At that meeting, uranium was not discussed. It would be a tragedy to think that we went to war over a conversation in which uranium was not discussed because the Niger official was sufficiently sophisticated to think that perhaps he might have wanted to discuss uranium at some later date.
But that’s not the way the CIA saw it at the time. In the CIA’s view, Wilson’s report bolstered suspicions that Iraq was indeed seeking uranium in Africa. The Senate report cited an intelligence officer who reviewed Wilson’s report upon his return from Niger:
Committee Report: He (the intelligence officer) said he judged that the most important fact in the report was that the Nigerian officials admitted that the Iraqi delegation had traveled there in 1999, and that the Nigerian Prime Minister believed the Iraqis were interested in purchasing uranium, because this provided some confirmation of foreign government service reporting.
« Reasonable to Assess »
At this point the CIA also had received « several intelligence reports » alleging that Iraq wanted to buy uranium from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and from Somalia, as well as from Niger. The Intelligence Committee concluded that « it was reasonable for analysts to assess that Iraq may have been seeking uranium from Africa based on Central Intelligence Agency reporting and other available intelligence. »
Reasonable, that is, until documents from an Italian magazine journalist showed up that seemed to prove an Iraq-Niger deal had actually been signed. The Intelligence Committee said the CIA should have been quicker to investigate the authenticity of those documents, which had « obvious problems » and were soon exposed as fakes by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
« We No Longer Believe »
Both the Butler report and the Senate Intelligence Committee report make clear that Bush’s 16 words weren’t based on the fake documents. The British didn’t even see them until after issuing the reports — based on other sources — that Bush quoted in his 16 words. But discovery of the Italian fraud did trigger a belated reassessment of the Iraq/Niger story by the CIA.
Once the CIA was certain that the Italian documents were forgeries, it said in an internal memorandum that « we no longer believe that there is sufficient other reporting to conclude that Iraq pursued uranium from abroad. » But that wasn’t until June 17, 2003 — nearly five months after Bush’s 16 words.
Soon after, on July 6, 2003, former ambassador Wilson went public in a New York Times opinion piece with his rebuttal of Bush’s 16 words, saying that if the President was referring to Niger « his conclusion was not borne out by the facts as I understood them, » and that « I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq’s nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat. » Wilson has since used much stronger language, calling Bush’s 16 words a « lie » in an Internet chat sponsored by the Kerry campaign.
On July 7, the day after Wilson’s original Times article, White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer took back the 16 words, calling them « incorrect: »
Fleischer: Now, we’ve long acknowledged — and this is old news, we’ve said this repeatedly — that the information on yellow cake did, indeed, turn out to be incorrect.
And soon after, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice acknowledged that the 16 words were, in retrospect, a mistake. She said during a July 11, 2003 White House press briefing:
Rice: What we’ve said subsequently is, knowing what we now know, that some of the Niger documents were apparently forged, we wouldn’t have put this in the President’s speech — but that’s knowing what we know now.
That same day, CIA Director George Tenet took personal responsibility for the appearance of the 16 words in Bush’s speech:
Tenet: These 16 words should never have been included in the text written
for the President.
Tenet said the CIA had viewed the original British intelligence reports as « inconclusive, » and had « expressed reservations » to the British.
The Senate report doesn’t make clear why discovery of the forged documents changed the CIA’s thinking. Logically, that discovery should have made little difference since the documents weren’t the basis for the CIA’s original belief that Saddam was seeking uranium. However, the Senate report did note that even within the CIA the comments and assessments were « inconsistent and at times contradictory » on the Niger story.
Even after Tenet tried to take the blame, Bush’s critics persisted in saying he lied with his 16 words — for example, in an opinion column July 16, 2003 by Michael Kinsley in the Washington Post:
Kinsley: Who was the arch-fiend who told a lie in President Bush’s State of the Union speech? . . .Linguists note that the question « Who lied in George Bush’s State of the Union speech » bears a certain resemblance to the famous conundrum « Who is buried in Grant’s Tomb? »
However, the Senate report confirmed that the CIA had reviewed Bush’s State of the Union address, and — whatever doubts it may have harbored — cleared it for him.
Senate Report: When coordinating the State of the Union, no Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analysts or officials told the National Security Council (NSC) to remove the « 16 words » or that there were concerns about the credibility of the Iraq-Niger uranium reporting.
The final word on the 16 words may have to await history’s judgment. The Butler report’s conclusion that British intelligence was « credible » clearly doesn’t square with what US intelligence now believes. But these new reports show Bush had plenty of reason to believe what he said, even if British intelligence is eventually shown to be mistaken.
President George W. Bush, “ State of the Union ,” 28 January 2003.
Chairman Lord Butler of Brockwell, “Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction,” 14 July 2004.
“Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq,” Select Committee on Intelligence United States Senate, 7 July 2004.
Walter Pincus, “ CIA Did Not Share Doubt on Iraq Data; Bush Used Report Of Uranium Bid ,” Washington Post, 12 June 2003.
Mohamed ElBaradei, “ The Status of Nuclear Inspections in Iraq: An Update ,” Statement to the United Nations Security Council by International Atomic Energy Agency Director General, 7 March 2003.
Joseph Wilson, “What I Didn’t Find in Africa,” New York Times, 6 July 2003.
Joseph Wilson,The Official Kerry-Edwards BLOG: « Transcript of Chat with Ambassador Joe Wilson, » 29 Oct 2003.
Michael Kinsley, « …Or More Lies From The Usual Suspects?, » Washington Post, 16 July 2003: A23.
Ari Fleischer, “ Press Gaggle ,” 7 July 2003.
Ari Fleischer and Dr. Condoleeza Rice, “ Press Gaggle ,” 11 July 2003.
George Tenet, « Statement by George J. Tenet Director of Central Intelligence, » Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), 11 July 2003.
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