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THE WAR ON ERROR

A damning report from Britain details everything Bush didn’t know before he invaded Iraq, and when he didn’t know it

@kurteichenwald

THE SCOOP

THERE WAS A TIME when American politicians cared more about country than party. A government failure prompted real investigations, so leaders could identify the source of the problem and fix it. No more. Instead, “government oversight” has become code for political show trials, where millions of tax dollars are spent to gain a partisan advantage.

So when extremists killed four Americans in 2012 at the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya—one of the world’s most dangerous places—10 investigations played out over the next four years, some of them pure partisan hackery. None determined anything significant that wasn’t found by the first investigation. However, one investigation discovered Hillary Clinton used personal email for official business when she was secretary of state, which spawned an investigation by the State Department’s inspector general, which led to an investigation by the FBI, which is now being investigated by a Republican Congress. There have also been long and expensive investigations of oral sex in the Oval Office, of the failed Whitewater real estate deal, of the firing of attorneys general around the country, and on and on.

Each of these issues was worthy of a look-see, but so was the largest strategic blunder in American history: the 2003 invasion of Iraq to destroy weapons of mass destruction (WMD) that didn’t exist. More than 4,500 American soldiers have died in the past 13 years as a result. To this day, the world grapples with the consequences of this military folly of former President George W. Bush, which sparked a conflagration that has spread across the Middle East and contributed mightily to the creation of ISIS—the Islamic State extremist group filled with members of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s military and Baath Party. The Senate investigated the prewar intelligence used to justify that decision, as did an independent commission. But with Republicans in control of Congress until 2006, no congressional committee or official body explored the obvious and politically sensitive question: Were there flaws in the decision-making process at the top of the Bush administration that led to this disaster, and, if so, what lessons can be learned?

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