The former head of Britain's MI6, Sir Roger Dearlove, confirms to Suskind on the record that both Bush and Blair received late-breaking but excellent first-hand intelligence that Saddam was bluffing on WMDs. A James Bond character, British spy Michael Shipster, secured a real line of information from an Iraqi intelligence chief. Blair had tasked MI6 with getting to the bottom of the WMD question. Suskind's original source, a high-level American intelligence agent, puts it this way:
"We knew," he says.
That there were no weapons in Iraq."
"Sure," I say, "people suspected. Define knew."
Then the story of Michael Shipster, subsequently confirmed by Dearlove. So if we knew there were no WMDs, why did Bush and Cheney go ahead with the invasion? Wouldn't they have known that the lack of WMDs would retroactively destroy the legitimacy of the war? Here's Dearlove's response:
"The problem," Dearlove says, finally, "was the Cheney crowd was in too much of a hurry, really. Bush never resisted them quite strongly enough." His voice trails off as he looks beyond the Old Chruch to the temples o Washington.
"Yes, it was probably too late, I imagine, for Cheney," he says, about stopping the invasion. "I'm not sure it was too late for Bush."
The story of the Bush administration in a single anecdote? Probably, Dick Cheney has a hell of a lot to answer for.