I am confused, and not in that faux I'm-appearing-confused-even-though-I'm-not-because-I-want-to-draw-attention-to-how-silly-something-is way. It's just weird, this group-delusion about Iraq and intelligence and who knew what.
I see three main areas of oddness.
1. Every newspaper is reporting that Tony Blair and George Bush and their various intelligence service heads are now saying Iraq appears not to have the sorts of weapons we thought they did, but we couldn't have known that at the time and anyway, no one was saying if they did know.
2. Every newspaper columnist in the major anglo-speaking dailies is *backing it up*, saying things like "this'll pose issues for the spies" and "how could the spooks have got it this wrong" and "bummer, but no one could have really known at the time and now I guess we do".
3. No one's really making much political ground by pointing out the screamingly obvious.
And this is what I find actually, really, honestly puzzling. I can see the FOXes and so on going down the path of "right war, wrong reason, but couldn't have known", but what is it with the NY Times and the Beeb and even the (admittedly C-grade) Fairfax press? Why on earth are they pretendng like no one knew, like what happened a scant 12 months ago just didn't in some very deep way happen? Like, why is it that no one's even peeped "er, isn't this exactly what the whole tango over going to war was about, and haven't the hawks been sort of been embarassed about it"?
It's something that puzzles me a great deal about news reporting: big, obvious stuff gets missed, shut down or just sort of pretended away. And the next puzzling thing is that in six months' time, say about the time George Bush is really gearing up for election, someone's going to do some deep investigative work and discover that the whole thing about intelligence getting it wrong wasn't really the whole story, and hey, who knew.
The slightly ill-making confusion is that the public record just doesn't matter.