WMD -- a major intellegence mistake (NY Times)

by Lewis 0 Replies latest social current

  • Lewis

    Both Republicans and Democrats agree! If the truth be told, this will soon lead to Bush and his obsession in finishing daddy's war ... let's hope the truth does come out.

    Report Says Key Assertions Leading to War Were Wrong

    By DAVID STOUT alt
    Published: July 9, 2004

    WASHINGTON, July 9 ? The Central Intelligence Agency greatly overestimated the danger presented by deadly unconventional weapons in Iraq because of runaway assumptions that were never sufficiently challenged, the Senate Intelligence Committee said today.

    In a long-awaited report that goes to the heart of President Bush's rationale for going to war against Iraq, the committee said that prewar assessments of Saddam Hussein's supposed arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, and his desire to have nuclear weapons, were wildly off the mark.

    "Today, we know these assessments were wrong, and as our inquiry will show, they were also unreasonable and largely unsupported by the available intelligence," Senator Pat Roberts, the Kansas Republican who heads the panel, said at a briefing on the 511-page report.

    Mr. Roberts said the committee had found no evidence that intelligence analysts were subjected to overt political pressure to tailor their findings. And the senator praised the men and women in the intelligence field as "true and dedicated professionals."

    But he said the committee's investigation of many months had also concluded that intelligence analysis and conclusions about Iraq's weapons had been warped by "a collective group-think" that caused ambiguous evidence to be elevated to the level of conclusive evidence.

    "It is clear that this group-think also extended to our allies and to the United Nations and several other nations as well, all of whom did believe that Saddam Hussein had active w.m.d. programs," Mr. Roberts said, using the abbreviation for weapons of mass destruction. "This was a global intelligence failure."

    Mr. Roberts said the report was harshly critical of the C.I.A., asserting that it had "abused its unique position" by failing to share information with other agencies. That sharing, Mr. Roberts seemed to suggest, might have subjected some overblown C.I.A. findings to a probing analysis.

    On one important point, the committee found the C.I.A.'s conclusions reasonable ? that there had been no significant ties between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda terrorists.

    The chairman said the problems with the C.I.A., whose director, George Tenet, stepped down this week, will not be fixed just by adding more money and more people. The nature of the necessary reforms is not entirely clear, he said, although his remarks implicitly urged a deep cultural change.

    Whatever changes are eventually adopted, he said, must be based on sound judgment rather than "expediency or media-generated momentum."

    Mr. Roberts and the committee's ranking Democrat, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, praised each other's energy and dedication. But even a cursory examination of Mr. Rockefeller's remarks made it clear that the report will be hotly debated during the presidential campaign.

    "There is simply no question that mistakes leading up to the war in Iraq rank among the most devastating losses and intelligence failures in the history of the nation," Mr. Rockefeller said. "The fact is that the administration at all levels, and to some extent us, used bad information to bolster its case for war. And we in Congress would not have authorized that war ? we would NOT have authorized that war ? with 75 votes if we knew what we know now."

    Mr. Rockefeller went on to challenge one of the Bush administration's basic positions: that the war to topple Saddam Hussein had made the United States, the Middle East and the world safer, notwithstanding the failure so far to find the weapons of mass destruction that the administration had said were a growing danger.

    "Tragically, the intelligence failure set forth in this report will affect our national security for generations to come," Mr. Rockefeller said. "Our credibility is diminished. Our standing in the world has never been lower. We have fostered a deep hatred of Americans in the Muslim world, and that will grow. As a direct consequence, our nation is more vulnerable today than ever before."

    That assertion is sure to be debated at length, as is the committee's finding that intelligence analysts were not subjected to political pressure. It is known, for instance, that Vice President Dick Cheney has been a frequent visitor to C.I.A. headquarters in Langley, Va.

    Mr. Rockefeller said the report issued today, coupled with indications that terrorists may be planning an attack in the United States in an attempt to disrupt the nation's political process, convey a disturbing message: "All of this simply is a way of saying time has run out."

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