Bush needs to come before Congress and explain

As CNN is now reporting that the Administration is in the process of revising its story about what Bush knew and when he knew it about Iran and its nuclear program, there is really only one responsible way to deal with what has happened here - the President needs to come before Congress and explain.

In 1998 we impeached a President over a lie about an affair. This Administration has serially lied about so many things, including the cause of our war with Iraq; they have almost certainly broken the law in their warentless spying on Americans; they almost certainly broke the law in the way they politicized the Department of Justice to serve their own electoral designs; the entire senior White House team was involved in the treasonous exposure of Valerie Plame; and now this new lie, about Iran and its nuclear program - this lie has significantly harmed our national security and cannot be treated as a "there they go again" moment. The Administration knowingly misled the world about Iran in a way that could have engulfed the region in a major war. The exposure of this lie has caused significant damage - again - to America's credibility around the world, and reinforced our image as a belligerent and out of control imperial power. For the good of the nation we simply must better understand what happened here - so we can prevent it from ever happening again.

Congress cannot compel the President to come before them. But they should ask. Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi should send a simple and polite letter asking President Bush to come before them, and the American people, in an extraordinary joint session that lasts just an hour. 15 minute opening statement. 4 questions, 2 from each Party. Let's do it in Mid-January, before the State of the Union, before Congress gets back to business, and before the Presidential nominees are picked.

The President will probably refuse. But at least our Congress will have attempted to get the bottom of another terrible moment in this lamentable Presidency.

Update: The New York Times has a major story today on how the conclusions of the NIE were reached. A must read for all following this closely.

Update: Senator Harry Reid just released this statement:

I am growing increasingly concerned about the White House's inconsistent explanations of when the President was told about important new intelligence information regarding Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions.  It appears the President and Vice President were briefed in August on this information, before both the President and Vice President began to ratchet up their increasingly-heated rhetoric on the threat of Iran.

I urge the White House to fully and accurately explain what the President and Vice President knew and when they knew it, and why the Administration's rhetoric was not adjusted when presented with new data this summer.  I find it surprising the Administration did not learn the lessons of Iraq; it was exactly this type of misleading rhetoric that led us into a misguided, unilateral war.

I also again urge the Administration to announce a top-to-bottom review of its Iran policy, including new steps to launch a major diplomatic surge to address the challenge of Iran.