The Iraq war was a successful fraud abetted by a hopelessly servile press and foreign-affairs establishment. Pollard played a key role.
The Rove administration fully believes that perception is more real than reality, and indeed, at crunch time very few people were corny, old-fashioned, or stodgy enough to stick out their necks and reject the hype. A lot of people who thought they were inside players turned out to be suckers. It happens all the time: “You can’t cheat an honest man”.
Adventurists are gamblers: “Let’s take a shot at this and see what happens”. Very few in the administration believed either the al Qaeda story or the WMD story; those stories were just PR. They figured that once the rubber hit the road, the combination of hysteria, gloating, and rabid patriotism would keep dissent intimidated.
The only thing that screwed them up was that the occupation turned out be a lot tougher than expected. They believed that everyone in Iraq hated Saddam (not true) and that once Saddam and his supporters were gone, all problems would disappear (also not true).
The official story changed several times, and not everyone cared. Up until recently (they aren’t saying it much any more) the semi-offical line was “The details don’t make any difference: WE WON, and that will be enough for the American people!”
It almost worked. And it might still, if they manage to find another crisis.