Pre-War Intelligence on Iraq WASN'T Dead Wrong
The public release of the Senate Committee report on pre-war intelligence on Iraq on March 31, is yet another example of both the ability of the Bush administration and its supporters to mislead the public and the way in which the major American media goes right along with them.
The headline statement of the report, which has been repeated ad nauseum by the press, is: "Pre-war Iraqi intelligence 'Dead Wrong'".
News agency after news agency repeated the headline and then went into lengthy discussions about what is wrong with the intelligence community and how it was that the President was so "misled".
CNNs coverage of the story provides a typical example:
Report: Iraq intelligence 'dead wrong'
As CNN states, "[t]he report implicitly absolves the Bush administration of manipulating the intelligence used to launch the 2003 Iraq war, putting the blame for bad intelligence directly on the intelligence community."
This is the crux of the matter. The fact is that the intelligence community did not support the statements that the Bush administration was making regarding Iraq prior to the start of the war. In fact, members of the intelligence community resigned their jobs over the fact that they were so at odds with the case for war that the Bush administration was presenting.
Indeed, the entire reason that I wrote the paper that inspired this website was because I knew that the case for war being presented by the Bush administration prior to the start of the war was bogus.
In fact, a major reason why I wrote This War Is About So Much More was to document my perspective on the war at that time and to document known facts about the case for war at that time.
There were many publicly available news sources prior to the start of the war in Iraq that discussed the fact that many people in the intelligence community were upset with the statements made by the Bush administration, and that many statements made by the Bush administration were false.
By the time that the war in Iraq was launched, it was already known that the so-called "mobile biological weapons labs" were not real, that Iraq wasn't perusing a nuclear program, that Iraq didn't have drone aircraft capable of doing any harm.
I know this because I documented these facts at the time the war started. On the page The Bush administration has repeatedly lied to support the war, I presented 5 known fallacies presented by the Bush administration, that were known before the war even started. I have links on that page going to sources from prior to the launch of the war, all of which discredit Bush administration statements about Iraq.
I included at the time a statement made on March 19, 2003 from intelligence expert James Bamford, where he said: "There is a predominant belief in the intelligence community that an invasion of Iraq will cause more terrorism than it will prevent. There is also a tremendous amount of embarrassment by intelligence professionals that there have been so many lies out of the administration -- by the president, (Vice President Dick) Cheney and (Secretary of State Colin) Powell -- over Iraq."
Does this sound like an intelligence community that "got it dead wrong"?
No, of course not.
What this report by the Senate Committee would have us believe is that someone like myself, who was a casual student of American foreign policy, of Middle East history, and who studied the issues on the Internet leading up to the war in Iraq, was actually better informed about Iraqi intelligence than the President of the United States and his cabinet.
I knew that the statements the President were making were either false or unsupported. He and his administration had to have had at least as much information as I did. All of my information came from publicly available sources. This administration had intent to mislead, and it cherry picked intelligence from officials who told the President what he and his administration wanted to hear.
As the report would paint it, the administration was completely unbiased and was led purely by the information that was presented to it from the intelligence community. This is an even bigger outrage and lie than the statement that Saddam Hussein was 6 months away from developing a nuclear bomb!
It is well known, that George Bush, and virtually every member of his cabinet, including the Vice President, had their sites set on invading Iraq before they even set foot into office. Many members of his administration had written or contributed to reports promoting an invasion of Iraq since the mid 1990s. This, again, is was documented by me on this website, here:
Bush team lied about intentions for war from the start
Even more disturbingly, little if any media attention was given to the Iraq on the Record Report issued by Representative Henry Waxman, which was issued on March 16, 2004.
Waxman's report details 237 specific statements made by the Bush administration during the run up to war, and how they were misleading based on information that was publicly known at the time the statements were made.
Another problem with the statement that the intelligence community was "dead wrong" is that the Senate Committee report is based on the October 2002 NIE report, "Iraq's Continuing Program for Weapons of Mass Destruction".
The Senate Report absolves the Bush administration of all responsibility because of some statements made in this report, which was prepared specifically for the President, while ignoring the fact that much of the information in this report was contradicted by other sources.
By March 2003, when the war on Iraq was launched, there was no evidence supporting a WMD program in Iraq and many of the claims made in the 2002 NIE report had been refuted by multiple sources, including other government sources, as well as outside sources.
The fact of the matter is that the Bush administration is responsible. There was significant dissent expressed within the intelligence community, and many members of the Bush administration repeatedly made statements that they knew were not fully supported or were not supported at all. The Bush administration had an agenda for war from the start and they made this very clear to the intelligence community and made it clear that the only information that they were interested in seeing was information that supported the case for war. Not only is the Bush administration responsible, which is bad enough, but now they are continuing to pursue this on-going agenda of shifting the blame onto other organizations and institutions, refusing to take the blame for their own actions, and continuing to mislead the American people.