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mom cat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 12:46 PM
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How We Got It so Wrong in Iraq
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Published on Sunday, July 18, 2004 by the Times Union / Albany, New York
How We Got It so Wrong in Iraq
by Scott Ritter

Earlier this year, I testified before two investigative bodies -- the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Butler Commission -- responsible for probing the massive failure of, respectively, the American and British intelligence services to properly assess the status of Iraq's ethereal weapons of mass destruction programs. The alleged existence of those programs was the foundation of the justification for the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. The Senate committee issued its report July 9; the Butler Commission did the same on Wednesday. Both are harshly critical, with the primary focus of blame falling on the analytical arms of both nations' intelligence services, which are accused of grossly exaggerating and misrepresenting available data on Iraq's WMD capability. This lapse was real, and the negative impact on the integrity of the free world's most prominent intelligence services -- the Central Intelligence Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency in the United States, and Great Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, or MI-6, and Defense Intelligence Staff -- will take years to ascertain, and even more time to repair.

Both the Senate committee and the Butler Commission appear to take pains to underscore their shared findings that the failures of intelligence regarding Iraq's missing WMD rest largely with the analysts and intelligence collection managers, on both sides of the Atlantic, who forgot that their job as intelligence professionals was not to tell their bosses what they wanted to hear, but rather what the facts were, regardless of the political consequences.

Pointing a critical finger at these analysts and managers is fair; limiting the scope of criticism to these failures is not. Both President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair seem to be given a free pass by these investigations, which purport to have found no direct evidence of efforts by either the White House or 10 Downing Street to "cook" the intelligence on Iraq's WMD.

As I testified before both panels, looking for such a direct link was likely to prove futile. The issue, I noted, was much more complicated, involving years of advocacy in both the United States and Great Britain for regime change in Baghdad that had permeated all levels of government, corrupting formulation of sound policy with a "group think" conclusion that Saddam Hussein was a threat. Anything that could facilitate his removal became accepted, regardless of its veracity.

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Name removed Donating Member (0 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 01:28 PM
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struggle4progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 02:30 PM
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2. Why does EVERYBODY ignore the fact that UN inspectors, ...

... on the ground in Iraq before the war, were steadily providing independent and public evidence that the so-called "intelligence" (hyped by US and UK politicians) was worthless?

Nobody needed high security clearance or access to the inner sanctums of the CIA or MI6 to know that there was a serious disconnect between the Bush/Blair claims and the facts on the ground: it was enough to follow press around the UN inspectors' work.
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mom cat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 08:20 PM
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3. Millions of protesters knew more than Bush, Blair, Cheney, Powell,
Rumsfeld etc. Even I knew that there were no nukes in Iraq and that the possibility of chem and bio weapons was very very remote. We know who has the most wmd and who the biggest "undeclared" wmd owner is.

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Miss Authoritiva Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 11:12 PM
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4. But what about the doofus factor?
"There was never an intention to allow a finding of Iraqi compliance concerning its disarmament obligation, even if one was warranted. Saddam was to be removed from power, and WMD were always viewed by the policymakers as the excuse for doing so."

The unresolved issue to me is how Bush and Blair -- knowing that there were no WMDs -- thought their constituents would react to the stunning lack of WMDs after the invasion. Yes, they could blame faulty intelligence, but wouldn't it strike people curious that not only did both the US and British intelligence agents screw up the intelligence but they screwed up the intelligence the same way?

The doofus factor is enormous, as they're now discovering. And the "at least we're safer with Saddam gone" antidote is not quite working.
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