White House National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley lambasted The New York Times on Monday for an editorial that he says continues to perpetuate the claim that political pressure -- not inaccurate intelligence -- motivated the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
In the editorial -- published Sunday and titled "Deluder in Chief" -- the newspaper alleges that the Bush administration plotted to invade Iraq before the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
The editorial claimed that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney "manipulated Congress" to approve the war while acting as if they had been suddenly "handed life and death information on Saddam Hussein' arsenal."
"The truth is that Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had been chafing to attack Iraq before Sept. 11, 2001," the newspaper wrote, seizing upon an interview Bush gave to ABC News last week in which he said his biggest regret during his administration was "intelligence failure in Iraq."
"Mr. Bush's comments about his decision to invade Iraq were a 'mistakes were made' rewriting of history and a refusal to accept responsibility to rival that of Richard Nixon," the newspaper wrote.
In response, the president's national security chief accused the newspaper's editorial board of a pattern of bias coverage on the Iraq war and said the U.S. wasn't the only country with an intelligence team that provided trumped up claims of Saddam's war machine.
"While the president has repeatedly acknowledged the mistakes in the pre-war intelligence, there is no support for the Times claim that the president and his national security team knew or should have known [the intelligence] to be faulty or that pressure from the White House led to particular conclusions," Hadley said in a statement released on Monday.
"Nothing in the many inquiries conducted into these matters supports the view of the Times editorial board," he said. "While Saddam Hussein did not have stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, he was a threat, and his removal has opened the door to a democratic Iraq in the heart of the Middle East that is an ally of the United States.
"The New York Times continues to have difficulty acknowledging the undeniable success of the president's decision to surge an additional 30,000 troops into Iraq. Because of the surge, Iraq is a more stable and secure country," he continued.