[Vision2020] New Senate Report is full of shit....
starbliss at gmail.com
Tue Sep 12 12:22:38 PDT 2006
Tony et. al.
First, I agree the democrats exhibited a massive failure in their complicity
with the Bush administration in "going along" with the Iraq invasion.
Second, to say that the Bush administration's bending of intelligence to
suit their goal of taking the US to war in Iraq was based on a "less than
sterling intelligence apparatus" is not to recognize that Bush told out
right falsehoods to the nation in the push for war, one of which was the
claim that Iraq was obtaining yellow cake uranium coming from Niger for a
nuclear weapons program, for example, a so called fact that was known at the
time to be extremely doubtful when Bush announced this to the nation. Bush
warned the US of a "mushroom cloud over America" but there was no evidence
Iraq had this capability:
Third, a good argument can be made that the invasion of Iraq is advocating
for our enemies:
"Imperial Hubris" is a bitter condemnation of U.S. counterterrorism
strategy. In it, Mr. Scheuer argues that the West is losing the war against
al Qaeda and that an "avaricious, premeditated, unprovoked" war in Iraq has
been a "Christmas present" for bin Laden.
Fourth, we did not all think that Saddam had any significant WMD threat in
the months before the invasion of Iraq. I have already done research on
this subject, and in fact I stated quite definitely in January 2003, on the
Vision2020 list, that the WMD threat from Iraq was overblown. A significant
source for this belief (Scott Ritter, Iraq weapons inspector), and my post
from January 2003, can be read at these links:
But what, you might say, about weapons of mass destruction and Iraq
sponsored terrorism? I think any realistic analysis of these threats
exposes them as minor, blown way out of proportion to be used as moral
justifications for what is nothing more than good old fashioned imperialism.
Numerous other states are more of a threat with weapons of mass
destruction and sponsoring terrorism.
Info on Iraq Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter's warnings on Iraq WMD status
before the invasion:
*Published on Friday, February 6, 2004 by the International Herald
Tribune <http://www.iht.com/> *
*Not Everyone Got it Wrong on Iraq's Weapons *
*by Scott Ritter *
'We were all wrong," David Kay, the Bush administration's former top weapons
sleuth in Iraq, recently told members of Congress after acknowledging that
there were probably no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Kay insisted that the blame for the failure to find any such weapons lay
with the U.S. intelligence community, which, according to Kay, provided
The Kay remarks appear to be an attempt to spin potentially damaging data to
the political advantage of President George W. Bush.
The president's decision to create an "independent commission" to
investigate this intelligence failure only reinforces this suspicion, since
such a commission would only be given the mandate to examine intelligence
data, and not the policies and decision-making processes that made use of
that data. More disturbing, the commission's findings would be delayed until
late fall, after the November presidential election.
The fact, independent of the findings of any commission, is that not
everyone was wrong.
I, for one, was not. I did my level best to demand facts from the Bush
administration to back up their allegations regarding Iraq's WMD and,
failing that, spoke out and wrote in as many forums as possible in an effort
to educate the publics of the United States and the world about the danger
of going to war based on a hyped-up threat.
In this I was not alone. Rolf Ekeus, the former head of the UN weapons
inspectors in Iraq, has declared that under his direction, Iraq was
"fundamentally disarmed" as early as 1996. Hans Blix, who headed UN weapons
inspections in Iraq in the months before the invasion in March 2003, stated
that his inspectors had found no evidence of either WMD or WMD-related
programs in Iraq. And officials familiar with Iraq, like Ambassador Joseph
Wilson and State Department intelligence analyst Greg Theilmann, both
exposed the unsustained nature of the Bush claims regarding Iraq's nuclear
The riddle surrounding Iraq's WMD was solvable without resorting to war. For
all the layers of deceit and obfuscation, there existed enough basic
elements of truth and substantive fact about the disposition of Saddam
Hussein's secret weapons programs to permit the Gordian knot to be cleaved
by anyone willing to try. Sadly, it seems that there was no predisposition
on the part of those assigned the task of solving the riddle to do so.
Bush's decision to limit the scope of any inquiry to intelligence matters,
effectively blocking any critique of his administration's use - or abuse -
of such intelligence, is absurd, especially when one considers that the Bush
administration was already talking of war with Iraq in 2002, prior to the
preparation of a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) - the defining
document on a particular area of the world or specified threat - by the
director of Central Intelligence.
According to a Department of Defense after-action report on Iraq titled
"Operation Iraqi Freedom: Strategic Lessons Learned," a copy of which was
obtained by The Washington Times in September 2003, "President Bush approved
the overall war strategy for Iraq in August last year." The specific date
cited was Aug. 29, 2002 - eight months before the first bomb was dropped.
The CIA did eventually produce a National Intelligence Estimate for Iraq,
but only in October 2002, after Bush had already decided on war. The title
of the NIE, "Iraq's Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction," is
reflective of a predisposition that was not supported either by the facts
available at the time, or by the passage of time.
Stu Cohen, a 28-year veteran of the CIA, wrote in a statement published on
the CIA Web site on Nov. 28, 2003, that the Oct. 2002 National Intelligence
Estimate "judged with high confidence that Iraq had chemical and biological
weapons as well as missiles in excess of the 150-kilometer limit imposed by
the UN Security Council. … These judgments were essentially the same
conclusions reached by the United Nations and a wide array of intelligence
services - friendly and unfriendly alike."
Cohen said the October NIE was "policy neutral" - meaning it did not propose
a policy that argued either for or against going to war. He also stated that
no one who worked on the NIE had been pressured by the Bush White House.
Cohen is wrong in his assertions. The fact that a major policy decision like
war with Iraq was made without the benefit of an NIE is, in and of itself,
I worked with Cohen on numerous occasions during this time, and consider him
a reasonable man. So I had to wonder when this intelligence professional,
confronted with the totality of the failure of the CIA to accurately assess
the WMD threat, wrote that he was "convinced that no reasonable person could
have viewed the totality of the information that the intelligence community
had at its disposal - literally millions of pages - and reached any
conclusions or alternative views that were profoundly different from those
that we reached."
I consider myself also to be a reasonable person. Like Cohen and the
intelligence professionals who prepared the October 2002 NIE, I was
intimately familiar with vast quantities of intelligence data collected from
around the world by numerous foreign intelligence services (including the
CIA) and on the ground in Iraq by UN weapons inspectors, at least until the
time of my resignation from Unscom in August 1998. Based on this experience,
I was asked by Arms Control Today, the journal of the Arms Control
Association, to write an article on the status of disarmament regarding
The article, "The Case for Iraq's Qualitative Disarmament," was published in
June 2000 and received broad coverage. Its conclusions were dismissed by the
intelligence communities of the United States and Britain. But my finding -
that "because of the work carried out by Unscom, it can be fairly stated
that Iraq was qualitatively disarmed at the time inspectors were withdrawn
[in December 1998]" - was an accurate assessment of the disarming of Iraq's
WMD capabilities, much more so than the CIA's October NIE or any
corresponding analysis carried out by British intelligence services.
I am not alone in my analysis. Ray McGovern, who heads a group called
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, or VIPS, also takes umbrage
at Cohen's "no reasonable person" assertion. "Had he taken the trouble to
read the op-eds and other issuances of VIPs members over the past two
years," McGovern told me, he would have found that "our writings
consistently contained conclusions and alternative views that were indeed
profoundly different - even without having had access to what Stu calls the
'totality of the information.' And Stu never indicated he thought us not
'reasonable' - at least back when many of us worked with him at CIA."
The fact is that McGovern and I, together with scores of intelligence
professionals, retired or still in service, who studied Iraq and its WMD
capabilities, are reasonable men. We got it right.
The Bush administration, in its rush to war, ignored our advice and the body
of factual data we used, and instead relied on rumor, speculation,
exaggeration and falsification to mislead the American people and their
elected representatives into supporting a war that is rapidly turning into a
quagmire. We knew the truth about Iraq's WMD. Sadly, no one listened.
*The writer was chief UN inspector in Iraq from 1991 to 1998 *
Copyright (c) 2004 the International Herald Tribune
*What Happened to Iraq's WMD
How politics corrupts intelligence *
*by Scott Ritter; San Francisco
December 06, 2005*
The recent exchange of vitriol between Republican and Democratic lawmakers
over the issue of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and more specifically
the disconnect between the intelligence data cited by the Bush
administration as justification for invading Iraq and the resultant
conclusion by the CIA that all Iraqi WMD had already been eliminated as
early as 1991, has once again thrust the issue of the use of intelligence
for political purposes front and center.
Democrats accuse the president and his supporters of deliberately misleading
them and the American people about the nature of the Iraqi threat.
Republicans respond that the Democrats are rewriting history, that all
parties involved had access to the same intelligence data and had drawn the
same conclusions. Typical of the Republican-led rebuttal are statements made
by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who noted that "every intelligence agency in
the world, including the Russian, French, including the Israeli, all had
reached the same conclusion, and that was that Saddam Hussein had weapons of
But this is disingenuous. The intelligence services of everyone else were
not proclaiming Iraq to be in possession of WMD. Rather, the intelligence
services of France, Russia, Germany, Great Britain and Israel were noting
that Iraq had failed to properly account for the totality of its past
proscribed weapons programs, and in doing so left open the possibility that
Iraq might retain an undetermined amount of WMD. There is a huge difference
in substance and nuance between such assessments and the hyped-up assertions
by the Bush administration concerning active programs dedicated to the
reconstitution of WMD, as well as the existence of massive stockpiles of
The actions and rhetoric of the Bush administration were aided by the
tendency by most involved to accept at face value any negative information
pertaining to Hussein and his regime, regardless of the source's
reliability. This trend was especially evident in Congress, responsible for
oversight on matters pertaining to foreign policy, intelligence and national
One might be inclined to excuse lesser members of the legislative branch for
such actions, given their lack of access to sensitive intelligence, but not
so senior figures who sit on oversight committees, such as California
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who occupied a seat on the Senate Select
Intelligence Committee. Today, Feinstein all-too conveniently "regrets" her
vote in favor of war on Iraq, but defends her yes vote in 2002 by noting
that "the intelligence was very conclusive: Saddam possessed biological and
chemical weapons." This is a far different from the statement Feinstein made
to me in the summer of 2002, when she acknowledged that the Bush
administration had not provided any convincing intelligence to back up its
claims about Iraqi WMD.
In contrast to Feinstein's actions, Sen. Bob Graham, a Florida Democrat who
also sat on the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, noted in September
2002 that the Bush administration's decisions regarding Iraq had been made
in the absence of a National Intelligence Estimate from the CIA. The CIA
hastily rushed to produce such a document, but the resulting report appeared
as much to be an example of intelligence being fixed around policy, as
opposed to policy being derived from intelligence. Graham, his eyes opened
by the seemingly baseless rush toward conflict in Iraq, voted no on the war.
Feinstein and others, their eyes wide shut, voted yes.
The crux of the problem of this Iraqi WMD intelligence "failure" lies in the
fact that the U.S. intelligence community and the products it produces are
increasingly influenced by the corrupting influences of politics. The
politicization of the intelligence community allows the process of fixing
intelligence around policy to become pervasive, and the increasingly
polarized political climate in America prevents any real checks and balances
through effective oversight, leaving Americans at the mercy of politicians
who have placed partisan politics above the common good. The recent overhaul
of the U.S. intelligence community, which resulted in the creation of the
national intelligence chief, only reinforces this politicization, because
the new director reports directly to the president and is beyond the reach
of congressional oversight.
The only true fix to the problems of intelligence that manifested themselves
in the Iraqi WMD debacle is to depoliticize the process. The position of
national intelligence chief should be a 10-year appointment, like that of
the director of the FBI, and subject to the consent of Congress. Likewise,
all intelligence made available to the president to make national security
policy should be shared with select members of Congress, from both parties,
so that America will never again find itself at war based upon politically
driven intelligence. Finally, and perhaps most important, the American
people should start exercising effective accountability regarding their
elected officials, so that those who voted yes for a war based on false and
misleading information never again have the honor and privilege of serving
in high office.
*Scott Ritter is a former U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq (1991-98) and *is
the author of *Iraq Confidential: The Untold Story of the Intelligence
Conspiracy to Undermine the UN and Overthrow Saddam
This article was published in the San Francisco Chronicle on Dec. 4, 2005.
On 9/11/06, Tony Simpson <tonytime at clearwire.net> wrote:
> Ted, remember that we ALL thought Saddam had those WMDs. He consistently
> thwarted the inspectors and flouted the U.N. mandates. BOTH democrats AND
> republicans voted in favor of authorizing the use of force. We were all
> victimized by a less than sterling intelligence apparatus, but mind you, it
> was DEMOCRATS, specifically FRANK CHURCH, who castrated our intelligence
> capabilities years ago. For you to place all the blame for the resulting
> intel problems at the feet of the Bush administration is either disingenuous
> or simply ignorant.
> Won't you research a bit more thoroughly before advocating on behalf
> of America's enemies in the future?
> Peace out.
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