GOP mouthpieces can play down the lie all they want -- as if Bush had plenty of other juicy stuff to convince us that Saddam was about to nuke us all to hell.This is why this matters- it was the only credible (as far as we knew) bit of evidence that Bush had that Saddam was even trying to develop nuclear weapons, and nuclear weapons are at the center of any argument over WMDs (a term, I might add, that was originally popularized by Rumsfeld). Without it, Bush's case was toast, and he knew it. Those '16 words' were the critical evidence of the critical reason Bush had for going to war.
Um... no. False. Wrong. What they're saying simply isn't true. So at least they and Bush have something in common.
It was just 16 words, they say, as if the dozens of other lies simply aren't there. And Watergate was just a 'third-rate burglary'...
Bottom line: we know -- we know -- that Bush and his flack claque PNAC had been planning military action in Iraq since long before 9/11.
And there's Bush, finally with his military in position, readying for the attack, the very day before his State Of The Union address... and suddenly (as we only later learn), pretty much everything else the White House has to paint Iraq as an imminent threat quite plainly falls apart, in ways the outside world already knows...
Gosh, what to do, what to do.
We all know what happened next.
(No, humanitarianism isn't even on the map there. While Bush brought that up on occasion, the timing of the attack and the necessity of military action were predicated on the concept that Iraq was a threat. Until the WMD threat had already faded, humanitarian intervention was a distant second or third on the list, largely because he knew the U.S. citizenry would never support it.)
It comes down to one question: did Bush believe that information was false when he added it, or not? If he did, then he deceived the American people even if he was "technically correct". If he believed the information was true, then he didn't deceive the American people, but somebody else did. (It wasn't Tenet, because he had already come out against it.)
So, it comes back to that old refrain: "what did he know, and when did he know it"?