Iraq Intelligence Needed - Sources Have Already Spoken
By Erik P. Sorenson, Republicons.org
Bush administration recently announced its reluctant endorsement
of an "independent" commission to investigate the
intelligence flaws that led the US to believe that Iraq possessed
large stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and an
advanced nuclear capacity. However, in the period before the
war many intelligence experts had warned that Iraq did not
possess an active weapons' program and that the Bush administration
was operating on spurious evidence.
According to press accounts, George W. Bush will name the
members of the commission which, at first blush, must raise
questions about the purported independence of the organization.
Additionally, the press also reported that the investigative
body was to be patterned after the Warren Commission that
led the investigation into the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
Many observers have questioned the independence of the Warren
Commission. The Commission ruled that Lee Harvey Oswald, acting
alone, shot and killed Kennedy and that Jack Ruby had acted
alone in the killing of Oswald. Many have considered these
findings dubious or at best incomplete.
However, the Bush administration's specific claims of Iraq's
possession of weapons of mass destruction do not even require
this process to be vetted. Many reputable intelligence officers
and analysts have already stated that the Bush administration
was intentionally selective in the intelligence claims it
accepted and quickly discarded contradictory information.
On February 24, 2003 MSNBC reported that the CIA had warned
the Bush administration that there was "no direct evidence"
that Iraq had successfully reconstituted its banned weapons
programs. The CIA said in its semi-annual report on weapons
proliferation that Iraq may have possessed a "low-level
theoretical" nuclear program. While the assessment states
that Iraq may have an active program, there were no specific
claims that supported the Bush administration's detailed assessment
of the threat.
As former State Department official, Joseph Wilson recently
told Geov Parrish of Working for Change, "[I]t was important
for the international community to persuade itself that Saddam
had been effectively disarmed and to impose a monitoring program
to ensure that he didn't rearm, that was a legitimate international
objective. Now, the real question is whether you had to invade,
conquer, and occupy Baghdad in order to achieve that objective,
and I think it's clear that we didn't."
Additionally, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
revealed earlier this year that the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence
Agency released a report in 2002 that equally questioned the
credibility of intelligence on the state of Iraq's weapons.
The report concluded that there was "no reliable information
on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons,
or where Iraq has - or will - establish its chemical warfare
agent production facilities."
The assessment also suggests that the 1991 Gulf War and
subsequent inspections significantly affected Iraq's ability
to rebuild its chemical arsenal. "[Iraq's] ability for
sustained production of G-series nerve agents and VX is constrained
by its stockpile of key chemical precursors and by the destruction
of all known CW production facilities during Operation Desert
Storm and during subsequent UNSCOM inspections. In the absence
of external aid, Iraq will likely experience difficulties
in producing nerve agents at the rate executed before Operation
Moreover, the unclassified portion of the report includes
numerous caveats about its allegations and largely draws any
conclusions of the threat posed by Iraq not on intelligence
but based upon the previous behaviors of Saddam Hussein. In
fact, the report states frankly that "we lack any [direct]
The Carnegie Center also reported that the State Department
had reservations about Intelligence in Iraq. The State Department's
Intelligence and Research Department wrote to the White House
in October 2002 that "[w]e lack specific information
on many key aspects of Iraq's WMD programs." The report
also ranked among its "low-confidence" findings
whether Saddam Hussein would share any banned weapons with
The report, none the less, largely tries to substantiate
a risk posed by Iraq based upon previous efforts by Hussein
to develop and use non-conventional weapons. However, a remarkable
dissenting opinion is voiced within the assessment. Under
the title of "Alternative View of Iraq's Nuclear Program"
that report states that, "The activities that we have
detected do not … add up to a compelling case that Iraq is
currently pursuing … an integrated and comprehensive approach
to acquire nuclear weapons."
Furthermore, Scott Ritter, the much maligned former UN weapons'
inspector, declared flatly that Iraq's weapons' capacity was
being overstated. In August 2002 he told the New York Daily
News, "They're [members of the Bush administration] lying
to the American people about Iraq's capacity."
"[Chemical and biological programs] can no longer be
viable unless Iraq reconstituted a manufacturing facility,
and there's no evidence of that," he added citing the
fact that chemical and biological weapons degrade over time.
Hans von Sponeck, the former UN Assistant Secretary General,
said in May 2001, "Iraq today is no longer a military
threat to anyone. Intelligence agencies know this. All the
conjectures about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq lack
Finally, the UN weapons' inspectors who were readmitted
into Iraq in 2002 found little to support the Bush administration's
claims. In fact, Mohamed ElBaradei, the UN's chief nuclear
inspector concluded the converse on March 7 2003. "At
this stage, the following can be stated: One, there is no
indication of resumed nuclear activities in those buildings
that were identified through the use of satellite imagery
as being reconstructed or newly erected since 1998, nor any
indication of nuclear-related prohibited activities at any
inspected sites. Second, there is no indication that Iraq
has attempted to import uranium since 1990. Three, there is
no indication that Iraq has attempted to import aluminum tubes
for use in centrifuge enrichment. After three months of intrusive
inspections, we have to date found no evidence or plausible
indication of the revival of a nuclear weapon program in Iraq,"
he told the UN Security Council.
This article was originally published at Republicons.org