Ten years after Iraq’s ‘WMDS’
“At the Center of the Storm: The CIA During America’s Time of Crisis” (2007)
The Bushies are still fighting about Colin Powell’s speech.
Colin asked to come out to CIA headquarters along with several of his speechwriters and senior aides to work through the speech and make sure it was as solid as possible. Although he didn’t say so explicitly, I believe one of the reasons he wanted to have the speech worked on at the Agency was the sense that, within our barbed wire-encircled headquarters compound, we were relatively free from interference from downtown. . . .
When Colin’s team first arrived at CIA, they had in their hands a fifty-nine page document on WMD with which they presumed we were familiar. Powell assumed that the White House had pulled the document together in coordination with the intelligence community. But what the White House handed him was something very different, something that we had never seen before. . . .
Some members of Secretary Powell’s team who participated in assembling the speech have subsequently spoken out about the ordeal and given the impression that they were standing alone on the bulwark, keeping out the bad intelligence. That is not how CIA participants remember it. . . . Our memory is that CIA and State Department officials worked side by side to rid the draft of material that would not stand up. . . .
Despite our efforts, a lot of flawed information still made its way into the speech. No one involved regrets that more than I do. But I have often wondered whether we might have uncovered more of those flaws if our people had not had to spend two days getting the garbage out of a White House draft.