U.S. Intelligence Exaggerated Iraqi Weapons Reports

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. intelligence agencies overstated the threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, relied on dubious sources and ignored contrary evidence in the run-up to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, a Senate committee reported on Friday.

In a harshly critical report, partly blacked out for security reasons, the Senate Intelligence Committee took U.S. spy agencies to task for numerous failures in their reporting on alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, which helped President Bush build a case for war.

No such weapons have been found.

U.S. Sen. John Rockefeller of West Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said the Senate would not have voted overwhelmingly in 2002 to approve the war if it had known how deeply flawed the intelligence was.

"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," he said.

Rockefeller said the Iraq war left the United States less safe and would affect national security for generations.

"Our credibility is diminished. Our standing in the world has never been lower," he said. "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."

The committee chairman, Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, said the intelligence community suffered from "collective group think" in reaching the unwarranted conclusion that Iraq was actively pursuing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs.

"This 'group think' caused the community to interpret ambiguous evidence, such as the procurement of dual-use technology, as conclusive evidence of the existence of WMD programs," he said.


The report absolved the Bush administration of charges that it had pressured analysts to reach pre-set conclusions on Iraqi programs. But some Democrats dissented from that conclusion.

"The committee's report does not acknowledge that the intelligence estimates were shaped by the administration," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat. "In my view, this remains an open question that needs more careful scrutiny."

Over Democratic objections, the committee decided to delay a report on how the Bush administration used the intelligence it received until after the Nov. 2 presidential election.

"There is a real frustration over what is not in this report ... after the analysts and the intelligence community produced an intelligence product, how is it then shaped or used or misused by the policy-makers?" Rockefeller asked.

The report, which ran to more than 500 pages, said that conclusions in an October 2002 national intelligence estimate on Iraqi weapons programs "either overstated or were not supported by the underlying intelligence reporting."

Bush cited intelligence suggesting that Iraq was aggressively pursuing unconventional weapons programs as a key justification for his decision to go to war in 2003.

He and other administration officials often suggested that Iraq was moving quickly to acquire nuclear weapons. But the report said that conclusion was not supported by the intelligence information.

CIA Director George Tenet, who told Bush it was a "slam dunk" that Iraq had such weapons before the war, announced his resignation last month and will step down on Sunday.

The report said the intelligence community suffered from a "broken corporate culture and poor management, and will not be solved by additional funding and personnel."

The report also said U.S. intelligence did not have sources collecting information about Iraqi weapons programs after 1998, when U.N. weapons inspectors were pulled out of Iraq.

It found that U.S. agencies relied too heavily on Iraqi exiles, who were eager to see the United States invade their country, and foreign intelligence services for information but were unable to check the reliability of such reports.

The committee also found that agencies focused on reports that Iraq had developed mobile laboratories to produce biological weapons and ignored information that contradicted it. No such mobile laboratories have been found.

Less than 20 percent of the report was blacked out for security reasons. Senators criticized the CIA for trying to keep more of the document secret.
Reverend Blair
The real report will come out in November. The White House was intimately involved in all of this, even outed a CIA agent because her husband wouldn't say what they wanted.

The message in that sort of thing is implicit...give us the intelligence that fits our scenatio or your career is over.
You may be right, but the jury is still out on that.

The Valerie Plumme thing, I think is going to be a bust.

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