Rachel Maddow doesn't back down an inch in what was really a pretty amazing interview with Tom Ridge. Amazing in that we haven't seen enough of them and how sad it was these kind of questions weren't asked of the Bush administration by anyone in the press before we invaded that country. At the end of what was a three part interview, Rachel calls Ridge out for his attempt at revisionist history.
Rachel asks him if he still believes that Iraq had WMD and Ridge says he does not. She asks him if he really doesn't believe that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld "had any role in skewing the intelligence to a foregone conclusion" and "an intelligence community error and not a politicized decision". Ridge of course says that no one in the Bush administration would have done something like that and that he believed that they just wanted to keep the country safe.
Maddow: I think that is an eloquent argument and I have to tell you….I think you making, I think you making that argument right now is why Republicans after the Bush and Cheney administration are not going to get back the country’s trust on national security. To look back at that decision and say we got it wrong but it was in good faith and not acknowledge the foregone conclusion that we were going to invade Iraq that pervaded every decision that was made about intelligence, looking back at that decision making process, it sounds like you’re making the argument you would have made the same decision again.
Americans need to believe that our government would not make that wrong a decision, would not make such a foregone, take such a foregone conclusion to such an important issue that the counter, the intelligence that proved the opposite point was all discounted, that the intelligence was combed through for any bit that would support the foregone conclusion of the policy makers. The system was broken and if you don’t see that the system was broken and you think that it was just that the Intel was wrong, I think that you’re one of the most trusted voices on national security for the Republican Party, and I think that’s the elephant in the room.
I don’t think you guys get back your credibility on national security until you realize, that was a wrong decision made by policy makers, it wasn’t the spies fault.
Ridge: Well, I think you’re suggesting that it was only being driven by quite obviously, the people who made the decision knew more about the threat than you and I do, and again I think it’s a, it’s a pretty radical conclusion to suggest the men and women entrusted with the safety of this country would predicate a decision upon any other basis than to keep America safe. Late on it may have proven that some of the information was inaccurate, but there were plenty of reasons to go into Iraq at the time, the foremost were the weapons of mass destruction. That obviously had proven to be faulty. But the fact of the matter is at that time, given what they knew, they knew more than you and I did, it seemed to be the right thing to do and the decision was made in what they considered to be the best interest of our country.
We’ve been litigating it now for about five or six years. I guess we’re going to continue to litigate it and historians and the final history hasn’t been written because of Iraq. If some form of self government, some form of democracy ultimately is achieved in Iraq and it’s not going to look exactly like ours, but you know, the Muslim world does admire freedom of speech. The Muslim world does admire democracy. As difficult as it is over there, the notion that we went in improperly will be obviously reversed and the history is yet to be written. Democracy in Iraq…
Ridge: Well, yeah. Democracy in Iraq will make a huge difference not just for the men and women and the people and the families in Iraq, but for the entire region for a lot of reasons.
Maddow: If you can go back in time and sell the American people on the idea that 4000 Americans ought to lose their lives and we ought to lose those trillions of dollars for democracy in Iraq, you have a wilder imagination than I do. We were sold that war because of 9-11. We were sold that war because of the threat of weapons of mass destruction and this guy didn’t have them and our government should have known it and frankly, a lot of people believe that our government did know it and that it was a cynical decision and maybe everybody wasn’t in on it and maybe that is a radical thing to conclude...
Ridge: Well, I don’t share that point of view. I know you do. I’m not going to convince you and you’re not going to convince me, but I really appreciate the civil way we’ve had this discussion. In frankly I think it would advance our interest as a country a lot further and a lot faster if we could have the discussion such as this.