Why the Washington Post has become the national paper of record:
What is to be learned from these findings? Not necessarily that Mr. Bush and his top aides are innocent of distorting the facts on Iraq. As we have said, we believe the record shows that they sometimes exaggerated intelligence reports that were themselves flawed. A case against Saddam Hussein could have been made without such hyperbole; by indulging in it, the Bush administration damaged its credibility and undermined support for the Iraq mission. But, as both the new reports underlined, no evidence has been presented that intelligence on Iraq was deliberately falsified for political purposes. In the intelligence community, analysts struggled to make sense of fragmentary and inconclusive reports, sometimes drawing varied and shifting conclusions. In the case of Niger, some chose to emphasize the evidence that Iraq explored the possibility of purchasing uranium. Others focused on the seemingly low probability that such a deal had been concluded or could have been carried out without detection.
Mr. Wilson chose to emphasize the latter point, that no deal was likely — but that does not negate the one Mr. Bush made in his speech, which was that Iraq was looking for bomb material. This suggests another caution: Some of those who now fairly condemn the administration’s “slam-dunk” approach to judging the intelligence about Iraq risk making the same error themselves. The failure to find significant stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons or an active nuclear program in Iraq has caused some war opponents to claim that Iraq was never much to worry about. The Niger story indicates otherwise. Like the reporting of postwar weapons investigator David Kay, it suggests that Saddam Hussein never gave up his intention to develop weapons of mass destruction and continued clandestine programs he would have accelerated when U.N. sanctions were lifted. No, the evidence is not conclusive. But neither did President Bush invent it.
Common sense from the press. It is sickening that this feels so refreshing to read.