U.S. Insiders say Iraq Intel DELIBERATELY skewed
On MSNBC and Yahoo News this afternoon:
U.S. Insiders Say Iraq Intel Deliberately Skewed
By Jim Wolf
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A growing number of U.S. national security professionals are accusing the Bush administration of slanting the facts and hijacking the $30 billion intelligence apparatus to justify its rush to war in Iraq ( news - web sites).
A key target is a four-person Pentagon ( news - web sites) team that reviewed material gathered by other intelligence outfits for any missed bits that might have tied Iraqi President Saddam Hussein ( news - web sites ) to banned weapons or terrorist groups.
This team, self-mockingly called the Cabal, "cherry-picked the intelligence stream" in a bid to portray Iraq as an imminent threat, said Patrick Lang, a former head of worldwide human intelligence gathering for the Defense Intelligence Agency, which coordinates military intelligence.
The DIA was "exploited and abused and bypassed in the process of making the case for war in Iraq based on the presence of WMD," or weapons of mass destruction, he added in a phone interview. He said the CIA ( news - web sites) had "no guts at all" to resist the allegedly deliberate skewing of intelligence by a Pentagon that he said was now dominating U.S. foreign policy.
Vince Cannistraro, a former chief of Central Intelligence Agency ( news - web sites ) counterterrorist operations, said he knew of serving intelligence officers who blame the Pentagon for playing up "fraudulent" intelligence, "a lot of it sourced from the Iraqi National Congress of Ahmad Chalabi."
The INC, which brought together groups opposed to Saddam, worked closely with the Pentagon to build a for the early use of force in Iraq.
"There are current intelligence officials who believe it is a scandal," he said in a telephone interview. They believe the administration, before going to war, had a "moral obligation to use the best information available, not just information that fits your preconceived ideas."
CHEMICAL WEAPONS REPORT 'SIMPLY WRONG'
The top Marine Corps officer in Iraq, Lt. Gen. James Conway, said on Friday U.S. intelligence was "simply wrong" in leading military commanders to fear troops were likely to be attacked with chemical weapons in the March invasion of Iraq that ousted Saddam.
Richard Perle, a Chalabi backer and member of the Defense Policy Board that advises Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, defended the four-person unit in a television interview.
"They established beyond any doubt that there were connections that had gone unnoticed in previous intelligence analysis," he said on the PBS NewsHour Thursday.
A Pentagon spokesman, Marine Lt. Col. David Lapan, said the team in question analyzed links among terrorist groups and alleged state sponsors and shared conclusions with the CIA.
"In one case, a briefing was presented to Director of Central Intelligence Tenet. It dealt with the links between Iraq and al Qaeda," the group blamed for the Sept. 2001 attacks on the United States, he said.
Tenet denied charges the intelligence community, on which the United States spends more than $30 billion a year, had skewed its analysis to fit a political agenda, a cardinal sin for professionals meant to tell the truth regardless of politics.
"I'm enormously proud of the work of our analysts," he said in a statement on Friday ahead of an internal review. "The integrity of our process has been maintained throughout and any suggestion to the contrary is simply wrong."
Tenet sat conspicuously behind Secretary of State Colin Powell ( news - web sites ) during a key Feb. 5 presentation to the U.N. Security Council arguing Iraq represented an ominous and urgent threat -- as if to lend the CIA's credibility to the presentation, replete with satellite photos.
Powell said Friday his presentation was "the best analytic product that we could have put up."
SHAPED 'FROM THE TOP DOWN'
Greg Thielmann, who retired in September after 25 years in the State Department, the last four in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research working on weapons, said it appeared to him that intelligence had been shaped "from the top down."
"The normal processing of establishing accurate intelligence was sidestepped" in the runup to invading Iraq, said David Albright, a former U.N. weapons inspector who is president of the Institute for Science and International Security and who deals with U.S. intelligence officers.
Anger among security professionals appears widespread. Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, a group that says it is made up mostly of CIA intelligence analysts, wrote to U.S. President George Bush May 1 to hit what they called "a policy and intelligence fiasco of monumental proportions."
"In intelligence there is one unpardonable sin -- cooking intelligence to the recipe of high policy," it wrote. "There is ample indication this has been done with respect to Iraq."
The reports of the Mobile Chem Bio Labs seemed to have been dead on, I'm willing to give the military more time to find the WMD. Saddam had 12 years to hide them, and in 12 years the UN Weapons Inspectors, though they asserted the WMD were there, found almost nothing.
Saddam had 12 years to hide them, and in 12 years the UN Weapons Inspectors, though they asserted the WMD were there, found almost nothing.
I agree. The United States government and it's coalition had better find WMD however, for it was the primary justification for this war.
DISCLAIMER: Before anyone attacks me for posting this article by labeling me unpatriotic, anti-American, an extreme leftist, a sucker for propaganda, or any other name, realize that I was only reposting an article as given on MSNBC and Yahoo News. I highlighted the appropriate controversial comments to make it easier for others to notice what is relevant for discussion.
Since this forum seems to enjoy heated political debate (which is healthy BTW) I figured I would seek discussion and opinions on the article.
A simple fact is that in 1991 the UN and UNSCUM - had already documented WMD - namely BIO & Chemical Weapons. The question should really be, even when UNSCUM went back in (prior to the war) they could not find the WMD that they had already documented from 1991?
Iraqi weapons of mass destruction are starting to take on the characteristics of christ's second coming. Colin powell had the pictures, others have firm faith, though they have not seen.
To be fair in my posts and give commentary from both sides...
Hunt for Iraqi Weapons Shifting Gears By MATT KELLEY, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - A large new U.S. team heading into Iraq ( news - web sites) to search for weapons of mass destruction will shift its focus away from areas identified as suspicious sites before the war, the Army general heading the effort said Friday.
Instead, the searchers will focus on areas where documents, interviews with Iraqis and other new clues suggest biological or chemical weapons could be hidden, Maj. Gen. Keith Dayton said.
Dayton leaves Monday for Baghdad, where he will head the Iraq Survey Group. The team of about 1,400 experts from the United States, Great Britain and Australia will take over the weapons search from a smaller U.S. military team.
The shift comes amid growing questions from allies and some members of Congress about why no chemical or biological weapons have been found. President Bush ( news - web sites ) said Iraq had chemical and biological weapons, as well as a nuclear weapons development program. Bush used the elimination of those programs as justification for waging war against Saddam Hussein ( news - web sites )'s regime.
Before the war, the United States drew up a list of more than 900 "suspect sites" where weapons of mass destruction or evidence of such programs might be found. Military teams have visited more than 200 of those sites without finding any actual weapons.
The United States has found two equipment-filled trailers in northern Iraq that American intelligence agencies say were mobile biological weapons production facilities. Bush and other administration officials say the finds show Iraq did indeed have clandestine programs to make germ weapons.
In response to questions about the credibility of U.S. intelligence, CIA ( news - web sites ) Director George Tenet released a statement Friday defending his agency.
"Our role is to call it like we see it — to tell policy-makers what we know, what we don't know, what we think, and what we base it on," he said. "The integrity of our process was maintained throughout and any suggestion to the contrary is simply wrong."
Dayton, a top official in the Defense Intelligence Agency, said he remains convinced his team will find chemical and biological weapons in Iraq. He said he believed the information the United States had before the war indicating Iraq had the banned weapons and continues to believe that.
"Do I think we will find something? Yeah, I kind of do," Dayton told reporters at a Pentagon ( news - web sites ) news conference. "This is not necessarily going to be quick and easy, but it's going to be very thorough."
Dayton said the Iraq Survey Group will include 200 to 300 searchers to fan out around Iraq to look for weapons, hundreds of experts to interrogate Iraqis, about 250 people to analyze documents and computer files at a regional base in Qatar and analysts to put the pieces together and figure out what they mean.
Establishment of the group, announced last month, "represents a significant expansion of effort in the hunt for weapons of mass destruction," Dayton said.
The group will begin a two-week transition period to take over the weapons hunt in Iraq no later than June 7, Dayton said.
The group includes both military and civilian experts, including former United Nations ( news - web sites ) weapons inspectors. Stephen Cambone, the Pentagon's top intelligence official, said Friday he did not know whether the United States would agree to have U.N. inspectors return to Iraq.
Critics say the Bush administration should let U.N. inspectors back in.
"Given the size and complexity of the task, it's unwise to turn down help from groups who have demonstrated expertise in this area," said Paul Kerr, an analyst at the Arms Control Association in Washington.
Cambone and Dayton said they did not know why no chemical or biological weapons have been found so far. Dayton echoed comments by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld earlier in the week speculating that Iraq could have destroyed such weapons before or during the war.
"These things could have been taken and buried. They could have been transferred. They could have been destroyed," Dayton said. "That doesn't mean they weren't there in the first place."
The Iraq Survey Group also will investigate possible war crimes by Iraqis, links between Saddam's regime and terrorism and the fate of those missing in action or held prisoner since the 1991 Persian Gulf War ( news - web sites ).
Dayton said those other missions make sense because his team will be interrogating Iraqis who may know about all of those issues and because his analysts will be able to pull together clues on those matters.
"They're all interrelated," Dayton said. "We'll be connecting pieces that haven't been connected before."
Its a shift in emphasis. You establish the policy....then you seek the 'intelligence' to support the policy. It should be the other way round. The coalition were lucky on this one. No one liked Saddam. The military did a fine job....but they better watch it next time. People wont be so gullible.
I think the real danger is now laid for the future:
If there is a genuine threat that isn't so 'visible' as Saddam / Iraq (even though they were not a threat) and some drastic action needs to be taken then I think people will be skeptical of the evidence.
They have played their trump card and they can't play it again.
I agree, Bush and his cronies had a plan of what they wanted to do and sought the intelligence to support it rather than looking at the intelligence and deciding the strategy. It appears that they used single source information which in intelligence terms is a big no-no.
The 'intelligence' now seems to have been replaced by the 'spin' that we are so familiar here in the UK!
There is good reason to believe that U.S. intelligence relies on torturing captives to extract information. Remember, George W. was moving to get U.S. forces exempt from war crime responsibility.
Also, the U.S. does not recognize the authority of the International Court of Justice, the U.N.'s legal court.
The U.S. had astonishingly little to fear from Iraq.
The U.S. does not give a flying sh*t about Iraq's 'crimes against humanity'... the U.S. supplied Iraq with weapons while the Kurds were being exterminated. (U.S. aid has recently gone to Turkey to kill the Kurds on the Turkish side of the Iraq-Turkey border)