Con­doleezza Rice

“No Higher Honor: A Mem­oir of My Years in Washington” (2011)

The Washington Post Sunday - - OUTLOOK -

I’ve re­played all of this over and over through the years. What could have we done dif­fer­ently? Where did I fail? Clearly, we had al­lowed the ar­gu­ment con­cern­ing WMD to get dis­con­nected from the broader strate­gic case against Sad­dam. I should never have sanc­tioned the use of bits of in­tel­li­gence, par­tic­u­larly by the Pres­i­dent. The in­tel­li­gence agen­cies were in­deed wrong about the ex­tent of the WMD threat from Sad­dam but not in say­ing that there was ev­i­dence of a threat. There were com­pet­ing views in the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity, but the Agency thought that he’d re­con­sti­tuted his bi­o­log­i­cal and chem­i­cal weapons ca­pa­bil­ity and all but the State De­part­ment thought that he was do­ing so on the nu­clear side. That as­sess­ment was shared by sev­eral for­eign in­tel­li­gence agen­cies too. I bris­tled as I lis­tened to con­gres­sional crit­ics ac­cuse us of in­flat­ing the threat while for­get­ting their own prior state­ments of the im­pend­ing doom posed by Sad­dam’s WMD.

Ul­ti­mately the fall­out took a toll on all of us. Colin has de­scribed the pre­sen­ta­tion at the United Na­tions on Fe­bru­ary 5 as a stain on his ca­reer. I am sorry that he feels that way, and it pains me to know that that is the moment that is of­ten called up in re­view­ing the long and stel­lar record of ser­vice of this Amer­i­can hero and my friend. But Colin didn’t seek to de­ceive any­one. None of us did. In ret­ro­spect, I wish I’d said over and over again that in­tel­li­gence al­ways car­ries un­cer­tain­ties; that is the na­ture of the beast.

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