But if Clinton’s claim that “I had acted in good faith” passes muster, her assertion that she “made the best decision I could with the information I had” does not. Prior to Clinton’s October 10, 2002 speech from the Senate floor explaining her Iraq vote, the Bush administration sent over two documents to the Senate for review. The first was a 92-page, classified National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The second was a five-page, unclassified version.
Despite a partial dissent from the State Department’s intelligence arm, the unclassified NIE declared that the intelligence community possessed “high confidence” that “Iraq is continuing, and in some areas expanding, its chemical, biological, nuclear and missile programs.” It’s hard to know exactly what was in the longer, classified version, since even when the Bush administration released it in 2004, it whited out 78 of its 92 pages. But it went into more detail about the objections raised by the State Department, and especially the Department of Energy, to claims that Hussein had a nuclear-weapons program. According to Senator Jay Rockefeller, “the NIE changed so dramatically from its classified to its unclassified form and broke all in one direction, toward a more dangerous scenario.”
Senators Bob Graham and Patrick Leahy would later say that reading the classified version helped convince them to vote ‘no.’ And during a lunch two days before Clinton’s speech, according to Gerth and Van Natta Jr., Graham “forcefully” urged his Democratic Senate colleagues to read it.