imageFred Hiatt breaks through the hemp-lined flower shield of dirty hippiedom and throws some truth in our faces:

But dive into Rockefeller's report, in search of where exactly President Bush lied about what his intelligence agencies were telling him about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, and you may be surprised by what you find.

On Iraq's nuclear weapons program? The president's statements "were generally substantiated by intelligence community estimates."

On biological weapons, production capability and those infamous mobile laboratories? The president's statements "were substantiated by intelligence information."

On chemical weapons, then? "Substantiated by intelligence information."

On weapons of mass destruction overall (a separate section of the intelligence committee report)? "Generally substantiated by intelligence information." Delivery vehicles such as ballistic missiles? "Generally substantiated by available intelligence." Unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to deliver WMDs? "Generally substantiated by intelligence information."

Oh no! He cited some places where things were "generally substantiated by intelligence information"! We know from a lifetime of selling temporary henna tattoos at the local farmer's market that if people "generally" say truth-like things, it means that their credibility is unimpeachable. What say you, Mr. Final Phase II Report on Iraq Prewar Intelligence?

Ø Statements and implications by the President and Secretary of State suggesting that Iraq and al-Qa’ida had a partnership, or that Iraq had provided al-Qa’ida with weapons training, were not substantiated by the intelligence.

Ø Statements by the President and the Vice President indicating that Saddam Hussein was prepared to give weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups for attacks against the United States were contradicted by available intelligence information.

Ø Statements by President Bush and Vice President Cheney regarding the postwar situation in Iraq, in terms of the political, security, and economic, did not reflect the concerns and uncertainties expressed in the intelligence products.

Ø Statements by the President and Vice President prior to the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iraq’s chemical weapons production capability and activities did not reflect the intelligence community’s uncertainties as to whether such production was ongoing.

Ø The Secretary of Defense’s statement that the Iraqi government operated underground WMD facilities that were not vulnerable to conventional airstrikes because they were underground and deeply buried was not substantiated by available intelligence information.

Ø The Intelligence Community did not confirm that Muhammad Atta met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in 2001 as the Vice President repeatedly claimed.

But...but, Fred Hiatt said that you said that things were "generally substantiated by intelligence information"!

Ø Fred Hiatt's face is generally substantiated by his ass.

That seems...hostile.

Ø Fred Hiatt's face is hostile. To life.

Well, then. You seem bitter, Mr. FPIIoIPI. Go relax, I'll finish this up.

Ø Thanks, dude.

So, Hiatt, what do you have to say?

Why does it matter, at this late date? The Rockefeller report will not cause a spike in "Bush Lied" mug sales, and the Bond dissent will not lead anyone to scrape the "Bush Lied" bumper sticker off his or her car.

But the phony "Bush lied" story line distracts from the biggest prewar failure: the fact that so much of the intelligence upon which Bush and Rockefeller and everyone else relied turned out to be tragically, catastrophically wrong.

It could be that intelligence agencies were under pressure to produce intelligence that would validate the case for war, no matter the consensus that they were dead wrong. It could be that the intelligence community was under pressure to bury doubts and promote things that validated the preexisting line, no matter how little credibility it had. Or, on the other hand, it could just be that all the American prewar intelligence all happened to be spontaneously and concurrently wrong, all in the exact same direction towards the exact same purpose.

Like your face.