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