View Full Version : No Iraqi WMD - Politics shaded intelligence.

01-08-04, 01:13 PM
Report says Iraq didn't have WMD

Author: Political pressure influenced intelligence before war

Thursday, January 8, 2004 Posted: 12:52 PM EST (1752 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Iraq had ended its weapons of mass destruction programs by the mid-1990s and did not pose an immediate threat to the United States before the war, according to a report released Thursday.

Bush administration officials likely pushed U.S. intelligence assessors to conform with its view the country posed an impending danger, said one of the authors of the study.

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace -- a nonpartisan, respected group that opposed the war in Iraq -- conducted the study.

It follows a nine-month search in Iraq for weapons of mass destruction -- nuclear, biological and chemical -- the key reason the administration cited in its decision to invade Iraq.

"We looked at the intelligence assessment process, and we've come to the conclusion that it is broken," author Joseph Cirincione said Thursday on CNN's "American Morning."

"It is very likely that intelligence officials were pressured by senior administration officials to conform their threat assessments to pre-existing policies."

The report says that the "dramatic shift between prior intelligence assessments and the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), together with the creation of an independent intelligence entity at the Pentagon and other steps, suggest that the intelligence community began to be unduly influenced by policymakers' views sometime in 2002."

More than 1,000 U.S. inspectors have worked daily since before the war began in March, searching the country and interviewing scientists and other Iraqi officials, according to Cirincione.

"We found nothing," Cirincione said. "There are no large stockpiles of weapons. There hasn't actually been a find of a single weapon, a single weapons agent, nothing like the programs that the administration believe existed."

The Carnegie report based its conclusions on information gleaned from declassified U.S. intelligence documents about Iraq from U.N. weapons inspectors and the International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear watchdog for the United Nations. The endowment also said the study used statements from the Bush administration and corroborated reports from the news media.

The report also accuses the Bush administration of misrepresenting the threat from Iraqi WMDs by "treating nuclear, chemical and biological weapons as a single 'WMD threat'" instead of characterizing the threats from the three types separately. It says the Bush administration also insisted "without evidence -- yet treating as a given truth -- that Saddam Hussein would give whatever WMD he possessed to terrorists."

Cirincione said the study "is the first comprehensive review of everything we knew or thought we knew about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and it turns out that some of the things we thought were working -- our threat assessments -- we're deeply flawed."

"We exaggerated the threat. We worst-cased it and then acted as if that worst case was the most likely case."

However, Cirincione also said other systems put in place to prohibit Saddam Hussein from developing weapons of mass destruction were working better than experts thought at the time.

Weapons inspectors conduct an examination in Iraq.

Iraq's "programs were crippled by years of [U.N.] inspections and U.S. military strikes," he said, "and the sanctions that prevented them from getting anything going at all."

Cirincione said one reason for the apparent lack of progress in the Iraqi weapons programs was because Iraqi scientists were "telling Saddam that they were further along than they actually were."

"Apparently that was picked up by some of the Iraqi defectors who came to the U.S. telling stories of elaborate advanced weapons programs," he said.

"So the defectors were fooled, Saddam was fooled, but as it turns out Saddam himself had made the decision -- as far as we can tell -- in the mid-'90s to shut down these programs."

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told ABC News' "Nightline" on Wednesday that there is no way to know for sure what weapons were or were not in Iraq at the time.

In a dramatic display last year before the war, Powell presented the U.N. Security Council with U.S. intelligence information about alleged Iraqi weapons.

"Everything we have seen over those years since they actually used these weapons in 1988 led us to the conclusion, led the intelligence community to the conclusion that they still had intent, they still had capability and they were not going to give up that capability," said Powell, apparently referring to Saddam's gassing of the Kurds in Iraq.

"And the intelligence community to this day stands behind the judgments that were made and that were presented to the world, presented to the Congress and presented to the American people through the national intelligence estimate, and that I presented before the Security Council."

The Carnegie report isn't "a gotcha study" seeking to blame officials, Cirincione said. "We're trying to prevent it from happening in the future," he said.

"We recommend the formation of a senior blue ribbon commission to examine this in an independent, nonpartisan way and make recommendations for how to insulate intelligence assessors from political pressures," Cirincione said.

"We don't know what happened in the offices of the administration, but there's a lot of evidence that points to" intelligence assessors being pressured by their bosses.

01-09-04, 06:53 PM
Carnegie Foundation: Leftist, Not &quot;Non-Partisan&quot; <br />
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January 9, 2004 <br />
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Listen to Rush… <br />
(…expose purely partisan politics timed specifically to do damage to Bush) <br />
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