Politicizing Intelligence –Yet Again

ByKenneth R.Timmerman
|September 14, 2006


If you thought efforts wereover to rewrite history on the lead-up to the war in Iraq and tosmear the head of the Iraqi National Congress, Ahmad Chalabi, thenthink again.

A remarkable pair of reports released last week by the Senate Selectcommittee on Intelligence re-examine for the umpteenth time thepre-war intelligence on Iraqi WMD programs and Saddam’s allegedties to al-Qaeda. The reports were produced at the demand ofcommittee Democrats as part of a vast fishing expedition aimed atbuttressing their old saw, Bush lied-People died.

What’s remarkable about these reports are not the factsthey contain, although they are jammed packed with new information,culled from the more than 40,000 finished intelligence reportsproduced by CIA on Iraq in the six years leading up to the war.

The absolutely stunning news, totally unreported by the formerlymainstream media, is the scurrilous effort by committee Democrats tofalsify the facts, introduce phony and erroneous conclusions, andthen parade about on their political high-horse to journalists whonever bothered to read the actual reports.

In an unprecedented move for a committee that until 2004 was knownfor bipartisan efforts to conduct oversight of the intelligencecommunity, the committee chairman –Sen. Pat Roberts (R, Ks) –actually dissented from the report’s publishedconclusions on intelligence provided by Chalabi’s IraqiNational Congress, as did most of the majority members.

The full report,
accessibleas a PDF file here,makes fascinating reading. To understand what actually happened,readers need to turn directly to page 123 of the printed report,which details how the committee arrived at the final version.

Here you read how Vice Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV, D-WV,outvoted Roberts thanks to the defection of Senators Olympia Snowe,RINO-ME, and
ChuckHagel, R-France, andsucceeded in superimposing totally bogus conclusions on an otherwisefactual report.

“Paraphrasing the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan,” Robertswrote in his dissent, “everyone is entitled to their ownopinion, but not their own set of facts& I will continue to drawthe line when it comes to amending conclusions in a way thatmischaracterizes or ignores the underlying facts.”

Roberts then dissected one by one the “myths” aboutalleged INC efforts to influence the judgment of the U.S.intelligence community on Iraqi WMD programs and Saddam’s tiesto terror that the Democrats (plus Snowe and Hagel) adopted in thereport’s conclusions.

Primary among them was the myth that the INC was “engaged in adisinformation campaign to supply erroneous information to theIntelligence community”
thatinfluenced the now infamous October 2002 National IntelligenceEstimate¬Ýon Iraqi WMDprograms.

“The facts detailed in the findings portion of this report&do not support this theory,” Roberts stated blandly. On thecontrary, “INC information did not significantly affectintelligence judgments” on Iraqi WMD programs. Nor did the INCsupply information “used to support the Intelligence community’skey judgments about Iraq’s links to terrorism.”

For example, “of the 45 human intelligence (HUMINT) sourcescited in the WMD NIE, only two were affiliated with the INC –and that does not account for the vast amount of information in theWMD NIE derived from signals intelligence, imagery, and HUMINTsources not specifically cited,” Roberts wrote.

In addition, he stated, “the INC did not supply informationused to support the Intelligence Community’s key judgmentsabout Iraq’s links to terrorism.”

Despite this, Rockefeller and his colleagues asserted that “falseinformation from the Iraqi National Congress-affiliated sources wasused to support key Intelligence Community assessments on Iraq andwas widely distributed in intelligence products prior to the war,”and cited “over 250 intelligence information reports”from just a single INC-affiliated defector.

And of course: the chief villains in this enterprise to peddle “false”intelligence from the INC were the Office of the Vice President, andUndersecretary of Defense for Policy, Doug Feith, Rockefeller and hiscolleagues claimed.

Even the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research(INR), often cited by the New York Times and SSIC Democrats for itswisdom in resisting INC information, couldn’t quite stomachthis blatant twisting of the truth.

Referring specifically to the two INC-affiliated defectors whoseinformation was included in the 2002 NIE, the INR told the committeethat the defectors “did not influence any INRassessments relating to prohibited weapons programs.” Regardingto terrorism, INR said it “did not make much use of INCreporting& in the years before Operation Iraqi Freedom.”[emphasis in the original]

The CIA also conducted a review at the request of IntelligenceCommittee staff of how it used INC-related defector information andfound that aside from two sources, “most of the other reportswere of marginal value to the CIA finished intelligence productionand had almost no impact on CIA analytic assessments.”

Furthermore, the CIA found “no evidence” that the INC hadfabricated information of consciously provided false informationaimed at “convincing the United States that Iraq possessedweapons of mass destruction and had links to terrorists,” asthe Democrats asserted [p159]

“If you’re trying to say that the INC is the one thatpushed us to go to war because of the WMD reporting, that’swrong,” one CIA officer told the committee. (p144).

“The facts are clear,” Roberts concluded. “Theprewar assessments of Iraq’s WMD programs were a tragicintelligence failure. However, the real causes of that failure&had nothing to do with Ahmed Chalabi and the INC.”

You would think such unambiguous findings would lay to rest the oldconspiracy-laden allegations that Chalabi’s INC concocted abunch of stories to sucker the U.S. into war.

But the Democrats have shown that they will not hesitate to use theSenate intelligence committee for partisan goals, with recklessdisregard not just of the facts, but of their own obligations toconduct oversight of the intelligence community.

This ultimately is the most disturbing aspect of this latest chapterin the Bush lied-People died attacks. As Pat Roberts warned, “Ratherthan perpetuating an ongoing effort to rewrite history, the committeeshould be focusing all its resources on a host of troubling issues:monitoring Intelligence Community reforms, balancing acquisitionrequirements with budgetary constraints, corrected the flawedtradecraft which led to the Iraq intelligence failure, and assessingcollection and analysis of intelligence on Iran, North Korea, andal-Qa’ida.”

Those are serious issues, that could become life and death issues –especially if Congress continues to ignore them.

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