A few weeks ago there was a story about the House Select Committee on Intelligence criticizing intelligence community for outdated information on Iraq. There was one detail that was particularly disturbing to me, but did not seem to get much attention. The Republican chair Porter Goss, a former CIA agent, co-wrote a letter to George Tenet.
From the Washington Post, September 28, page A1. (no live link anymore, but I have the web page if you want it)
quote: Moreover, Goss and Harman [ranking Democrat on the Committee] dispelled the assertion, made frequently by administration officials, that they possess more concrete information about Iraq's nuclear intention but are unable to disclose it because it remains classified. "We have not found any information in the assessments that are still classified that was any more definitive," the two wrote Tenet.
The assessments included 19 volumes of classified material.
If I recall correctly, after the State of the Union mention of Iraq trying to get uranium from Africa, the administration claimed that they had other sources to back up the British claim, but they were classified.
It appears that this is not true. More disturbing, it appears that the administration attempted to hide their error behind “national security” and classified documents, where the public and the press are normally unable to bring it to light.
I am sure that those who oppose President Bush’s policies have a lot to say about this.
I would humbly ask that we leave this thread to President Bush’s supporters to explain this.
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What was Tenet's reply to this letter? CNN posted this response, but I don't know if it is about this letter or an earlier one (This seems to be before the Feith leak of SIGINT proof of WMD):
quote:Sources said the letter described the information pointing to Iraq's weapons programs as "circumstantial" and "fragmentary." The CIA disputed that judgment, calling it "premature and wrong."
Some of the evidence of Iraqi weapons programs disclosed by CIA weapons inspector David Kay during congressional committee testimony Thursday:
A clandestine network of laboratories and safe houses within the Iraqi Intelligence Service that contained equipment that was subject to U.N. monitoring and was suitable for continuing chemical and biological weapons research.
A prison laboratory complex that possibly was used to test biological weapons agents on humans. Kay said his investigations have shown that Iraqi officials working to prepare for U.N. inspections were ordered not to declare the facility to the U.N.
Reference strains of biological organisms concealed in the home of an Iraqi scientist. One of the strains can be used to produce biological weapons.
New research on biological weapons-applicable agents, Brucella and Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), and continuing work on ricin and aflatoxin -- none of which were declared to the U.N.
Documents and equipment, hidden in scientists' homes, that would have helped Iraq resume uranium enrichment by centrifuge and electromagnetic isotope separation.
"The suggestion by the committee that we did not challenge long-standing judgments and assessments is simply wrong," Tenet wrote in a letter to Harman and Goss. "I emphatically disagree with the committee's view that intelligence reports on Iraq's ties to al Qaeda should have been 'screened out by a more rigorous vetting process' because they were provided to analysts," Tenet wrote. "Providing analysts less information on Iraq's connections to terrorists makes no sense to me."
In the letter, Tenet also complains about the timing of the complaints from the Hill, saying it is premature, since Kay has much more work to do.
Tenet called the intelligence prior to the war in Iraq "honest and professional," and complained that the lawmakers publicized their complaints before giving the intelligence community a chance to respond.
In a July report to Congress, Kay said investigators were making solid progress. He told reporters that investigators had uncovered useful documents about Iraq's WMD programs and was getting increased cooperation from Iraqis.
"I think the American people should be prepared for surprises," Kay said in July. "I think it's very likely that we will discover remarkable surprises in this enterprise."
But he cautioned that Saddam had engaged in an "amazing" active deception program that would be difficult to unravel.
"It's going to take time. The Iraqis had over two decades to develop these weapons, and hiding them was an essential part of their program," Kay said.
I was glad to see Tenet's response. It gives me a warmer feeling about the competence of our intelligence agencies.
However, this does not address my original concern. If Kay found 10,000 nuclear weapons tomorrow, the fact would remain-
The administration claimed to have intelligence that justified their actions. That intelligence did not actually exist. Then they hid that lack of information by saying it was classified.
If it ends up later that they got lucky and were right, they still were less than truthful. When my government makes decisions like going to war based on guesses and hopes, and tells me it is fact, well that worries me.
Could you adress this question please?
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Velcro, I think you are guilty of unsubstantiated assumption about what happened. You are assuming that any classified intel is from the US when it is most probably from foreign sources (possibly Israeli or British) and the intel may have come through intermediaries who will be immediately killed if the information they revealed was made known. The 32+ nations in the coalition all have intel that may have some input to actions in Iraq. The Senate Intelligience committee is known to be porous and leaks llike a sieve, (i.e. the Rockefeller memo.) Much of the intel is forwarded to that committee as blanket statements that can be believed or not - but the background will not always be presented for military and intel security considerations. That Rockefeller wants to use such lack of background for political gain and blame it on his staffers is typical.
You have to decide if you would rather oppose the intel statements on the basis of political agenda, or reserve judgement pending future promised verification. So far the administration has been proven correct in every statement made. In contast, the opposition has claimed many disproven statements and when confronted by them, just shifted attention without apology. We all know there was no lack of cetainty about WMD before the invasion, and the SIGINT from Feith's leak has explained exactly what happened. All the military goals have been met on schedule, and are far ahead of similar plans from Germany and Japan after WWII. This senseless Bush-bashing is without merit and plays into the hands of America's enemies. You do not know the right or wrong of it - but your willingness to believe the worst of the US does the country a disservice.
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As I was writing the last post, I had put in something to the effect of “and don’t use the excuse that the intelligence was double-super-classified, so it wasn’t in the 19 volumes.”. I took it out to avoid being patronizing.
If the administration does not need to tell everything it knows to Congress, regarding major actions such as putting the country at war, we have no balance of powers. Imagine:
Bush: “Well, we HAVE to cut taxes by 50% or al-Qaeda will unquestionably blow up the White House. I have the proof right here in my hand. But I can’t show it to your or the intermediaries that provided the intelligence will be immediately killed.” [Please note that I made this up. It is called satire. I can do this without actually hating the President.]
If the administration said they left the supporting information out, I haven’t heard it, the logical assumption is the information never existed.
If our allies give us intelligence, it should be mentioned in the 19 volumes. If it is impeccable, the report should label it as such, and the REPUBLICAN chair of the committee could use that to defend his President.
“So far the administration has been proven correct in every statement it made” So they must have found the WMD, as Bush said. There is proven evidence of a continuing nuclear program capable of making a bomb within a year. There were chemical weapons available for use within 45 minutes. Iraq tried to get uranium from Africa (oops, the British SAID they did. And my cousin Edna in London said there were UFOs, so it’s true the British said…) Iraqis will welcome us as liberators. Funny, I haven’t read about it.
Sorry to disappoint you, but while I obviously do not approve of some of President Bush’s policies, I do not agree with your characterization of my original post as Bush Bashing. Chill. I have concerns about the claims of intelligence that are either non-existent, or their existence can not be proven. Those types of claims can be used to justify anything, and therefore should never be used to justify anything.
I do not believe the worst of my country, sir, and I resent the accusation. When I see questionable actions, I voice my displeasure in the hope that the behavior will not be repeated, to the benefit of my country. To be honest, your comment smacks of the blind patriotism that allows the worst of our country to come through relatively unopposed.
BTW, what is the SIGINT from Leith? A link please?
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quote:You have to decide if you would rather oppose the intel statements on the basis of political agenda, or reserve judgement pending future promised verification.
Um... how long, exactly, should the Bush Administration (which, it has become clear, looked at all the "evidence" in a light which would support attacking Iraq rather than in a neutral one) be given the benefit of the doubt?
I mean, the President himself declared "Mission Accomplished" several months ago. Since then, of course, we've had more guys killed than were killed in the war that Bush said we'd just won. We've found no actual WMD whatsoever, and certainly no nukes (which, you'll note, is the actual topic/subject of the original post).
How long does Bush get? Until December, 2004? Middle of next year? When is it "put up or shut up" time for the President?
quote:So far the administration has been proven correct in every statement made.
Except, of course, for all that talk about how we knew they had WMD and how they had many active programs developing them and how we knew when/where they were moving them (based on all those electronic intercepts that Powell quoted at the UN) and how Saddam was just a wild hair up his butt away from launching an attack on the USA and how we had won the war and didn't have anything more to fear from Iraq (the hundreds of dead and wounded soldiers since then must be faking their wounds/deaths, I guess)... except for all that, sure, the Administration has been correct.
quote:We all know there was no lack of cetainty about WMD before the invasion, and the SIGINT from Feith's leak has explained exactly what happened.
Except for the majority of the other nations in the world who didn't support the attack and weren't sure that there really were any WMD (remind me again, how many nukes have we found? How many battle-ready chemical warheads? How many deployment-ready bioweapons?)... sure, except for billions of people who weren't sure if attacking Iraq was a good idea and who didn't think they even HAD any WMD.... except for all of them, sure, we were all certain about Iraq having WMD.
Where those WMD have gone, in the face of all this "certainty", is really something, isn't it?
quote:All the military goals have been met on schedule, and are far ahead of similar plans from Germany and Japan after WWII.
Except, of course, for the goal of not having a bunch of guys shot, bombed, rocketed, ambushed, and killed. Except for THOSE minor military goals, like having fewer people die during the actual war than have died since our Commander in Chief declared victory... except for that, yeah, we're meeting all the goals.
And except for, you know, actually controlling the country and stabilizing things and bringing them to a calmer state than before the war. Except for that, sure, we're meeting our military goals.
quote:This senseless Bush-bashing is without merit and plays into the hands of America's enemies. You do not know the right or wrong of it - but your willingness to believe the worst of the US does the country a disservice.
This is complete and utter horseshit (ahem- as opposed to the REST of your post). Saying "you're not loyal to the US" is such a BS way of "debating". It's pathetic and beneath you.
I thought we vanquished the enemies in Iraq? What is the harm in debating or criticizing the President's actions? What is the harm in saying "hey, you said there was a bunch of WMD, you said they had nukes, where are they?"
I mean, the President himself said the war was over, right? "Mission Accomplished"? Flight suit, aircraft carrier (conveniently turned so the TV cameras wouldn't show the California coastline in the background- can't have anything dicking up our PR handler's dream photoshoots, can we?), jubilent President? Remember that, or was it just a dream that Karl Rove and I shared?
Frankly, Wm, I'd try and give you the benefit of the doubt yourself. I'd say "well, he's not really falling back onto the incredibly weak position of questioning the loyalty of someone who disagrees- he wouldn't do that"... except that after a few months, it's obviously standard operating procedure for you.
To declare anyone who disagrees with you to be an unwitting accomplice of "America's enemies" (and they would be who exactly?) is so unbelievably pathetic and weak that I'm ashamed I felt the need to point it out- but you never know. There could be some moron reading the board who would go "hey, yeah, don't want to be unAmerican!" and therefore believe your pack of lies.
quote: This senseless Bush-bashing is without merit and plays into the hands of America's enemies. You do not know the right or wrong of it - but your willingness to believe the worst of the US does the country a disservice.
In a democracy, the ultimate act of loyalty is to question your government and require it to live up to the highest standards. Without citizens questioning the regime, what do you have? Communist China, that's what.
Furthermore, this is not simply believing "the worst," this is looking at the history of modern U.S. interventionism abroad and noticing that there is a pattern here: define the desired outcome of the intel, then filter the intel appropriately. We did it in Vietnam, we're doing it now.
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