Is the tide turning?

On NBC News last night, I watched the anchor — I think it was Brian Williams — contrast the cost of the occupation with the stunning new deficit numbers, along with noting the increasing number of American fatalities in Iraq. According to Kos, Chris Matthews read the riot act to Trent Lott last night, asking how much “Bush’s war” will cost taxpayers. CNN apparently also aired acomplaints that the administration misled the nation concerning the cost of the war.

And then there’s this bombshell article in the LA Times, which has already been noted on numerous other blogs:

WASHINGTON — Frustrated at the failure to find Saddam Hussein’s suspected stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, U.S. and allied intelligence agencies have launched a major effort to determine if they were victims of bogus Iraqi defectors who planted disinformation to mislead the West before the war.

The goal, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official, “is to see if false information was put out there and got into legitimate channels and we were totally duped on it.” He added, “We’re reinterviewing all our sources of information on this. This is the entire intelligence community, not just the U.S.”

— snip —

As evidence, officials say former Iraqi operatives have confirmed since the war that Hussein’s regime sent “double agents” disguised as defectors to the West to plant fabricated intelligence. In other cases, Baghdad apparently tricked legitimate defectors into funneling phony tips about weapons production and storage sites.

“They were shown bits of information and led to believe there was an active weapons program, only to be turned loose to make their way to Western intelligence sources,” said the senior intelligence official. “Then, because they believe it, they pass polygraph tests … and the planted information becomes true to the West, even if it was all made up to deceive us.”

Some of you probably remember that I had a little system crash a month or so ago, which started out as a problem in my mail program and soon cascaded through my hard drive like an overload on an unregulated power grid. The only thing I really lost was a bunch of old email, so I should probably count my blessings, but I kind of wish I could go back and reprint some of the messages I got from, say, September of 2002 through May of 2003. So many people were so absolutely sure they knew the truth about the terrible danger Saddam posed and the absolute necessity of going to war — and of course, the ease with which it would all work itself out. I especially wish I could reprint some of the excruciatingly smug “you anti-war types sure have egg on your faces now!” emails I received the day of that statue-toppling photo op.

Of course, that would be petty of me, so perhaps it is just as well that I can’t.

But boy, did those people ever get played. The honest ones are beginning to acknowledge it, the rest are busy trying to convince themselves that the mountain of bullshit they bought is actually delicious ice cream, and never mind that weird smell.

Update: a lot of people find the notion that Saddam was sending out disinformation through defectors ludicrous. I’m not sure — don’t countries always try to appear more powerful than they really are, especially weak countries that know they’re in the crosshairs? But even if this is just more passing-the-buckism, the point is that they’re admitting the WMD threat didn’t really exist…