Two interesting tidbits from this NYT profile of Chris Carney, the new Democrat representing Pennsylvania's 10th Congressional District. Carney worked for Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith in the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group at the Pentagon, searching for links between Iraq and al-Qaeda:
In the summer and fall of 2002, Mr. Carney was at the center of the storm, briefing George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, and Stephen J. Hadley, then the deputy national security adviser, on the Feith unit's assessment of any links between Iraq and Al Qaeda. At the time, the unit was creating controversy within the government for arguing that there was significant evidence of ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda. [snip]
Today, Mr. Carney says he still believes there were links between Iraq and Al Qaeda, although he is careful not to overstate them.
"On a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 was no connection and 10 was operational control, I would say it's about a 2½," he said in an interview. "It was a relationship of keeping your friends close and your enemies closer," he added. "Saddam was a savvy guy, and I think he wanted to make sure that if Al Qaeda someday became a force, that he wanted to keep his options open. I thought that there was a relationship. Whether it was strong enough to go to war, that's the president's decision."
Interesting that Carney admits what other Democrats have flatly denied in public for at least the last two years. And knowing human nature, I suspect Carney is retrospectively downgrading his assessement of Iraq-al Qaeda ties for a number of reasons. I'll bet if you asked him at the time, Carney would have rated the link between Iraq and al-Qaeda more in the 4-6 range, or perhaps even higher.
As with WMD intel, it's easy to sit back with the benefit of hindsight and say what dots we should or shouldn't have connected, and far more difficult to weigh the risks and make the hard choices.
There's also this:
But Mr. Carney is not enthusiastic about the possibility of a new Congressional investigation of prewar intelligence, which he said would be a major distraction.
Of course Carney doesn't want an investigation, since he was right in the thick of the intel operation which the Democrats have gone out of their way over the last few years to malign and exploit as incompetent and nefariously manipulative. Can you imagine the sight of Carney testifying before House Intelligence Committee and watching his fellow Democrats rake him and others over the coals for "lying" us into Iraq?