War before it was to late
Kevin Drum responds to the suggestion that the CIA didn't screw up as badly as some because, after all, it sure looked like Saddam was hiding something(*):
Did the CIA screw up? Probably. Did it matter? No. George Bush invaded Iraq in March 2003 not because he was convinced Iraq had WMD, but because he was becoming scared that Iraq didn't have WMD and that further inspections would prove it beyond any doubt. Facts on the ground have never been allowed to interfere with George Bush's worldview, and he wasn't about to take the chance that they might interfere with his war.
I don't know if Bush was ever on the ball enough to be that calculating. He probably eats his own shit.
But I'm sure that many of the people around him (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz) were worried that continued inspections would eventually undermine the case for going to war with Iraq. And it's not simply the case that they knew that the inspectors wouldn't find anything. It's that they didn't believe the inspections could ever be relied on to give a definitive answer on the issue. But they knew that they would eventually undermine the case for war.
They had only a narrow window in which to initiate the operation and, if they missed it, it would probably never come again. That's probably why they aborted the attempt to get a 2nd UN resolution. They knew it would only drag the process out even longer and make it that much harder for them to get their war on their terms.
That was simply unacceptable, so to war we went.
(*) Why did Saddam act like he was hiding something when he didn't? Because he believed the fear that he had something would be sufficient to keep the rest of the world out. It was to his advantage to keep people guessing about his true capabilities.