Andrew Sullivan argues that “grave and gathering danger” in no way implies “imminent threat,” and that anyone who says otherwise is a damn liar. (Scroll to top of linked entry.)
Update: unlike Andrew, alert reader Jonathan S. knows how to use a thesaurus:
Definition: at hand
Synonyms: approaching, brewing, close, coming, expectant, fast-approaching, following, forthcoming, gathering, immediate, impending, in prospect, in store, in view, ineluctable, inescapable, inevasible, inevitable, likely, looming, menacing, near, nearing, next, nigh, overhanging, possible, probable, threatening, to come, unavoidable, unescapable
Another update: A quick Lexis search for the time period from 9/1/02 to 5/1/03, for the terms “imminent threat,” “Bush” and “Iraq,” turns up literally thousands of references. Bush may not have used the specific words himself, but they were out there in constant public debate, both pro and con, and at no point did he seek to clarify the issue and say, “no, no, I don’t mean the threat is actually imminent, just that it’s possible.” In short, this is a really stupid bit of hair-splitting.