Bush and his coat-holders have been angrily denying that anyone in the administration ever said that the threat from Iraq was imminent. Josh Marshall demolished their case in a recent column in The Hill. ("In January, Wolf Blitzer asked [White House communications director] Dan Bartlett: 'Is [Saddam] an imminent threat to U.S. interests, either in that part of the world or to Americans right here at home.' Bartlett’s answer? 'Well, of course he is.'") But now here's more evidence: According to a new poll, Americans almost universally believe they were told by the administration that the threat was imminent:
More than half of Americans say President Bush decided to go to war on Iraq based on faulty assumptions, says a poll released Thursday.
An overwhelming majority of those polled -- 87 percent -- said the Bush administration portrayed Iraq as an imminent threat before the war.
The poll, incidentally, has mixed results: Most respondents (84%) say we haven't found WMDs in Iraq (a refreshing change from polls a few months ago) -- but 52% say we've found clear evidence that Saddam was working with al-Qaeda. And 57% continue to believe going to war was the right decision.
By the way: Yes, I take the poll respondents' answers on the "imminent" question seriously, and yes, I think the poll respondents who believe in a Saddam/al-Qaeda link have been deceived -- and no, that's not a contradiction. The respondents can't know for sure what Saddam and al-Qaeda were up to; by contrast, they did have firsthand exposure to the administration's rhetoric. They know what they heard, and they're reporting it accurately.