Another Stab at the Truth

By Dan Froomkin
Special to
Friday, July 14, 2006; 1:26 PM

There are some hugely important aspects of the Bush presidency that remain insufficiently examined, and the most important are about the run-up to war in Iraq.

Polls show that a majority of Americans believe President Bush and his associates intentionally misled the public in making their case for war. It's a terribly serious charge, if true. In fact, it's hard to imagine a more serious charge against a president.

But is it true?

Did Bush, Vice President Cheney and others know the intelligence they were citing wasn't reliable? Did they purposefully understate the considerable doubts within the intelligence community? Did they consciously exaggerate the extent of the findings?

And after the war, when critics began to emerge, why were they so obsessed with discrediting anyone who suggested as much, rather than just responding with a factual defense?

With a few partial exceptions , the media has proven itself unable to answer these questions definitively.

There were once two promising official lines of inquiry. Special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald, by all accounts, has collected a considerable amount of related information in the process of investigating the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity during a White House drive to discredit her husband.

But it looks as though he's not going to make public most of what he's found out, apparently having decided to limit himself to a narrowly defined obstruction-of-justice case against former vice presidential chief of staff Scooter Libby.

And the Senate Intelligence Committee long ago ostensibly committed itself to investigating the administration's use of the faulty intelligence. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid even shut down the Senate eight months ago to force Republicans to speed up the investigation.

But as Tim Starks writes for Congressional Quarterly, the committee's efforts remain, charitably speaking, "in limbo."

Yesterday's filing of a civil lawsuit in the CIA leak case is quite possibly a legal dead-end, and arguably a thinly veiled attempt at political harassment. Nevertheless, it offers what may now be the most possible avenue of uncovering the truth.

The Suit

The lawsuit is : Valerie Plame Wilson and Joseph C. Wilson IV, plaintiffs, v. I Lewis (A/K/A "Scooter") Libby Jr., Karl C. Rove, Richard B. Cheney and John Does 1-10, defendants.

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