WASHINGTON – Some Democrats and war critics continue to accuse President Bush of lying about reasons to go to war with Iraq, but the administration maintains that Congress supported the effort based on the same intelligence.
"The administration worked from the same intelligence that had driven American policy on Iraq for the 12 years since the end of the Gulf War," said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a recent interview with FOX News.
Click on the video box at the top of the story to watch a report by FOX News' Major Garrett.
But Democrats disagree and say they did not have the same intelligence as the president.
"For the president to suggest that even as members of the intelligence committee we had the same intelligence at our disposal as he did, is just plain wrong," said Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill.
In fact, sources tell FOX News, Bush received daily briefings that gave the president even greater concern about Iraq's potential threat. The CIA produced the president's daily brief, or PDB, but they painted an even more dire picture. The bipartisan Robb-Silberman report said the PDBs on Iraq were "even more misleading" than the National Intelligence Estimate, or NIE, given to Congress.
"These daily reports were, if anything, more alarmist and less nuanced" than the NIE, the commission said, adding the reports' "drumbeat of repetition left an impression of many corroborating reports where, in fact, there were very few sources."
The commission found no evidence of pressuring or coercing intelligence analysts but did find that the daily briefings "seemed to be selling intelligence in order to keep its customers, or at least, the first customer interested."
Outside of the daily briefings and other reports, Congress was receiving less aggressive assessments than Bush. But they were still bleak.
"The bulk of them all agreed that there were existing stocks of biological, existing stocks of chemical; and for the most part they all agreed there was a nuke program — the question was how they were going about it," said Charles Duelfer, former chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq.
Duelfer's post-war survey found no biological or chemical weapons stockpiles. Despite the massive intelligence failure, Duelfer said there was no conspiracy.
"You can fault the intelligence community for many things but for shaping its conclusions to fit the desires of the political leadership, I don't think that's right," Duelfer said. "I think that's wrong."
Critics continue to accuse the administration of ignoring conflicting reports. They cite Iraq's 2001 purchase of aluminum tubes, which the CIA and Pentagon said were part of a renewed nuclear weapons program.
But the Department of Energy said the tubes were not well-suited for a nuclear program, more likely designed for Iraqi artillery, which turned out to be the right call. Even so, the Energy Department, based on other evidence, agreed Iraq was pursuing nuclear weapons.
"There was a disagreement on some of the elements but there was a large consensus in terms of the overall direction that the Saddam regime wanted to go, which was it was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program," Duelfer said.