Editorials

Iraq: Not all the intelligence was wrong

Written by David Green. Posted in Editorials

BAD INTELLIGENCE?

Not all intelligence was wrong

Now we know why our children are being sent to battle in Iraq. The President made it clear in his State of the Union address last month.

More than 520 U.S. soldiers have returned home in coffins. Thousands more have come home wounded—many blinded, missing limbs and suffering severe head trauma.

We’re sending our young fighters to Iraq because of “weapons of mass destruction program related activities.”

The casualty count continues to grow every week, along with the resources invested (currently just short of $100 billion).

But there’s no more talk of nuclear bombs, long-range missiles, mobile germ labs, poison gas factories, drones and vans and hidden depots and other “imminent threats” used to justify the war. Now it’s just “program-related activities.”

The Pentagon’s chief weapons hunter David Kay is stepping down from the job and admitting that the weapons that led to this war likely never existed. “We were all wrong,” he said, but even that statement is wrong. There were plenty of dissenting voices.

• Feb. 2002: A CIA report indicated no evidence that Iraq had engaged in terrorist operations against the United States in nearly a decade, nor that chemical or biological weapons were provided to terrorist groups

• Sept. 2002: An unclassified excerpt of a Defense Intelligence Agency study on Iraq’s chemical warfare program stated that there is “no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons, or where Iraq has—or will—establish its chemical warfare agent production facilities.”

• Oct. 2002: The CIA sent two memos to the White House voicing strong doubts about a claim President Bush made three months later in the State of the Union address that Iraq was trying to buy nuclear materials in Africa.

• Oct. 2002: The State Department’s Intelligence and Research Department dissented from the conclusion in the National Intelligence Estimate that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program.

• Oct. 2002: The government organization most knowledgeable about the United States’ unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) program—the Air Force’s National Air and Space Intelligence Center—disputed the notion that Iraq’s UAVs were being designed as attack weapons, a claim Pres. Bush used in his Oct. 7 speech, just three days before the congressional vote authorizing the use of force.

• Jan. 2003: The Bureau of Intelligence and Research, the State Department’s in-house analysis unit, and nuclear experts at the Department of Energy are understood to have explicitly warned Secretary of State Colin Powell during the preparation of his U.N. speech that the evidence was questionable.

• Feb. 2003: A CIA report on proliferation said the intelligence community had no “direct evidence” that Iraq has succeeded in reconstituting its biological, chemical, nuclear or long-range missile programs in the two years since U.N. weapons inspectors left and U.S. planes bombed Iraqi facilities.

A similar chronicle of events details how the White House ignored the warnings and instead pressured intelligence agencies to conform with the pre-determined policy.

When a reporter recently asked the President about his “hard facts” of Iraq’s possession of weapons before the war, compared to the mere possibility of obtaining weapons sometime in the future, as the president now says, his incredulous answer was this: “So what’s the difference?”

What’s the difference between telling the American people one thing to justify war and then offering another reason after it’s “over”? There’s an enormous difference. For a starter, just ask the families and friends of the 520 524 526 American casualties.

   - Feb. 4, 2004

 

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