That's what he said. Funny that just seven years after the invasion, the British and American governments both basically feel this way -- but I bet the Iraqi government doesn't. But who expected in 2003 that in 2010, the president of the United States would have "Hussein" in his name but the president of Iraq wouldn't?
Meanwhile, here is the hot-off-the-press testimony on the Iraq invasion of former British intelligence bigwig the Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller. Basically she megadittoes: "we regarded the threat, the direct threat from Iraq as low." As for al Qaeda and Iraq, she said, "there was no credible intelligence to suggest that connection and that was the judgment, I might say, of the CIA. It was not a judgment that found favour with some parts of the American machine, as you have also heard evidence on, which is why Donald Rumsfeld started an intelligence unit in the Pentagon to seek an alternative judgment."
The BE M-B added that some unnamed parties made much too much of "tiny scraps" indicating some contact between Saddam Hussein and AQ.
Lady M-B also mentioned that she went to see Paul Wolfowitz once to tell him that disbanding the Iraqi army and banning Baathists from public life was a mistake:
"SIR RODERIC LYNE: But you didn't convert him?
BARONESS MANNINGHAM-BULLER: Not a hope."
One of the themes of the British testimony has been the pernicious influence of "special advisors"-people who stepped in and mixed the policy and intelligence roles. I think there probably is a good PhD dissertation to be done on this, looking at the situations in both the British and American governments. If I had time I would do it, but I already am deep into my work on my next book.
(HT to David Betz)
Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.