Report says Iraq didn't have WMD

Elias Sinderson elias at cse.ucsc.edu
Thu Jan 8 10:34:31 PST 2004


Uhmm... Anyone care to comment on the following?

Elias
______________________________________

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)
<http://www.cnn.com/2004/US/01/08/sprj.nirq.wmd.report/index.html>

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.

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.
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