politics, history and the war on terror
Saturday, July 10, 2004
The CIA and Senate's Intelligence is MIA  

The Senate Intelligence Committee released its report on the intelligence used in the lead up to the Iraq war (the more readable conclusion can be read here). This report deals with the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), Iraq's Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction. The report is specifically damning to the Central Intelligence Agency but does not implicate the Bush administration in any wrongdoing concerning the use of the intelligence that was presented. Keep in mind this report is addressing the intelligence used in the lead up to the war, not the results of what we have found in Iraq since the overthrow of Saddam's regime. Some of the evidence we have found (chemical weapons, nuclear material, chemical precursor stockpiles, proof of the Niger uranium purchase attempts, production facilities, missiles, etc.) demonstrates Iraq did possess WMD, delivery means and the capacity to produce it. This is all in violation of Iraq's cease fire and U.N. obligations, just not on the same scale or in the same way the CIA estimated prior to the war.

This is a brief summary of the major items covered (the conclusion alone is thirty pages, so I stress the brief):

* The CIA's failures
* made serious errors in analysis of intelligence
* made assumptions Iraq was actively pursuing WMD based on evasion of UN inspections and did not challenge these assumptions,
* did not have adequate human intelligence
* guilty of poor management
* did not share their data with other intelligence organizations to cross check their work
* did not state the uncertainties of the estimate to the Bush administration.
* The existing intelligence did not support the CIA's claim Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program, but did support the claim Iraq was acquiring dual use technologies (technologies that can be used for both civilian and military purposes to product WMD).

* The intelligence did not support CIA claims Iraq was producing biological weapons, but did support the claim Iraq did possess dual use capabilities.

* The intelligence did not support CIA claims Iraq was producing chemical weapons but did support the claim Iraq possessed old stockpiles as well as the materials to make more, as well as dual use capabilities.

* The intelligence on the missile systems was accurate, while the intelligence on the UAV (Unmanned Arial Vehicles) program was overstated.

* There was no pressure by any members of the Bush administration on intelligence analysts to massage the intelligence to support the case for war.
Intelligence gathering is difficult based on the nature of the business. We were attempting to penetrate one of the most dangerous and ruthless regimes in the world with a history of producing, owning and using WMD on its citizens and neighbors. It is not disturbing some of the intelligence was incorrect, but what are disturbing is the CIA's methods, its poor analysis and processes used to come to its conclusions. The CIA needs immediate reform to prevent this from happening in the future.

This report is very damaging to the prestige of the United States and its intelligence gathering services. Political pressures forced the Senate to investigate the intelligence leading up to Iraq shortly after the end of the invasion, in spite of the fact that we are still at war. While it is very important to understand the causes for failure, inquiries such as this and the 9/11 Commission do little to help further America's ability to successfully prosecute the war. The American public and foreign governments will be less likely to take America at her word in the future on intelligence matters, despite the fact that this was not just an American failure, but an intelligence failure on a global scale.

It is prudent to understand our intelligence shortcomings, but unwise to publicly release the report in the middle of war. Our national security would be better served if the findings were kept secret and released at a much later date. The Democrat's need to prove President Bush wrong prior to the election trumped the need to behave in a responsible manner concerning our national security. This is not a matter of whether a (R) or a (D) is next to a president's name, this is an issue that affects our safety. And if President Bush is not reelected, the next president will still be hampered in making his decisions on national security due to the political pounding he may receive from the opposition, as now all bets are off when it comes to the validity of intelligence. Every American will pay a price, as America's national security does not benefit from a president hampered by indecision due to political attacks on his decision making process in the lead up to war. The nature of the enemy we face, terrorists and rogue nations that operate in the shadows, requires a certain amount of guess work and assumptions that cannot meet the standards of a court of law. The Democrats have practically ensured that iron clad evidence is needed to prosecute the next war on a murderous regime bent on thwarting the laws of nations. By the time this impossible standard of evidence is available, nations such as Iran and North Korea may already have met their goal of joining the nuclear club or pass on their destructive weapons to terror organizations.

But this report does not prove that the Bush administration was wrong to prosecute the war against Saddam. WMD potential was but one of several reasons in the case for the Iraq war. Our recent findings demonstrate Saddam still possessed WMD and pursued dual use technologies, all in violation to his obligations under international agreements. And the Iraq war has been crucial to the prosecution of the War on Terror, despite claims the war has been a distraction. The unearthing of AQ Khan's clandestine WMD ring alone was worth the price, but there are further benefits, including affecting change via democracy in the Middle East, proving or commitment to fight on enemy territory, toppling the Lybia WMD regime and placing American troops within striking distance of Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia.

The investigation into Saddam's WMD is not over, and evidence is unearthed every day that sheds new light onto the dealings of Saddam's corrupt regime, including his success at manipulating the United Nations Oil for Food program. Because our intelligence prior to the war was flawed does not mean we were wrong in deposing the Butcher of Baghdad.


See Dan Darling's special analysis on this report concerning al Qaeda links to Iraq, the now proven attempt by Iraq to buy uranium from Niger and further insight.

Posted by bill roggio @ 12:07 AM