Thursday :: Jul 8, 2004

Senator Saxby Chambliss lies about the Intelligence Failures

by Mary

Via the excellent War and Piece, we find that Senator Saxby Chambliss is telling reporters that the report of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee will conclude that the intelligence errors leading to the Iraq war were the fault of the CIA analysts and that it would absolve Bush and Tenet. Because the reporter for this article was Jonathan Landay, we also learn about why we might question this conclusion. Laura helps make this point by providing a pointer to the Ackerman and Judis exposé from June 30, 2003. It was clear from reading the TNR article from last year, the Iraq war was sold to the country and to our elected representatives by the Bush administration. And there were lots of warnings that they were manipulating the intelligence from all of the various intelligence agencies, including the CIA. The administration is the primary culprit in creating the war of choice that has turned so deadly. They should be made to pay for their lies.

I remember the Ackerman and Judis article, because it created much of the structure of the events leading to the war and was the framework I used to create my timeline leading to the Iraq war last year. Once more, here is the Iraq war timeline with definitive evidence that the Bush administration manufactured this war. Using the original documentation, it is hard to assert that the CIA was at fault for this mess.

An Updated Timeline on Taking the Country to War against Iraq

January 2001: Paul O'Neill reveals that at Bush's first National Security Council meeting topic "A" was how to take out Saddam.
CBS 60 Minutes
Paul O'Neill, January 11, 2004

September 11, 2001: Richard Clarke relates that as soon as Bush returned to the White House on September 11th, Rumsfeld stated "we needed to bomb Iraq and we all said, 'No no, al Qaeda is in Afghanistan. We need to bomb Afghanistan.'" Clarke also reports Bush demanded that Clarke find a reason to attack Iraq as well.
CBS 60 Minutes
Richard Clarke, March 21, 2004

Late 2001: State Department says the U. S. obtained information through various channels reporting that Iraq had attempted to procure uranium from Africa.
State Dept letter to Waxman, April 29, 2003

Feb 6, 2002: George Tenet testifies that Iraq is still a concern, but threat from North Korea or Iran is greater. He testifies that Saddam still wants to reconstitute its nuclear program, but there is no evidence that he is doing so right now.
Tenet testimony before Senate Intelligence Committee

Feb 2002: Ambassador Wilson is asked to investigate the Saddam-Niger nuclear charges. He reports back that there is absolutely no truth to this. Report submitted to CIA and back to Cheney's office.
What I Didn't Find in Africa
Joseph C. Wilson, NY Times, July 6, 2003

March 19, 2002: Tenet tells Senate Armed Services Committee that Iraqi regime "had contacts with Al Qaeda".
Tenet testimony before Senate Intelligence Committee

Spring 2002: Reports of Iraq trying to procure a kind of high-strength aluminum tube surface. Very soon, disputes arise about whether these tubes can be used as claimed.
The New Republic
John B. Judis & Kenneth Ackerman, June 30, 2003

June 26, 2002 The Iraqi National Congress sends a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee which listed 108 articles based on information provided by the INC's Information Collection Program, a U.S.-funded effort to collect intelligence in Iraq.
Iraqi exile group fed false information to news media
Jonathan S Landay & Tish Wells, Knight-Ridder, Mar 25, 2004
Feeding the information to the news media, as well as to selected administration officials and members of Congress, helped foster an impression that there were multiple sources of intelligence on Iraq's illicit weapons programs and links to bin Laden.
In fact, many of the allegations came from the same half-dozen defectors, weren't confirmed by other intelligence and were hotly disputed by intelligence professionals at the CIA, the Defense Department and the State Department.

July 2002: Senator Bob Graham requests report from the intelligence community about the threat from Iraq.
This American Life (audio clip)
Senator Bob Graham, Dec 20, 2002

Aug 26, 2002: Dick Cheney kicks off the march to war with the assertion: The risks of inaction are far greater than the risk of action.
Vice President Speaks at VFW 103rd National Convention
Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us. And there is no doubt that his aggressive regional ambitions will lead him into future confrontations with his neighbors -- confrontations that will involve both the weapons he has today, and the ones he will continue to develop with his oil wealth.

Sept 8, 2002: Judith Miller and Michael R. Gordon publish a report about Iraq purchasing aluminium tubes as components to build centrifuges for building nuclear weapons.
New York Times
Comment: Many intelligence agents dispute this charge. David Albright, of the Institute for Science and International Security, recalled, "I became dismayed when a knowledgeable government scientist told me that the administration could say anything it wanted about the tubes while government scientists who disagreed were expected to remain quiet." [TNR]

Sept 12, 2002: White House White Paper published about Iraqi threat.
A Decade of Deception and Defiance
From the document: Iraq has stepped up its quest for nuclear weapons and has embarked on a worldwide hunt for materials to make an atomic bomb. In the last 14 months, Iraq has sought to buy thousands of specially designed aluminum tubes which officials believe were intended as components of centrifuges to enrich uranium. Note: there is no mention of the attempt to buy nuclear materials in the report.

Sept 23, 2002: A response to White Paper by the INSTITUTE FOR SCIENCE AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY (ISIS) concludes that it is highly questionable that these tubes could be used for a nuclear program.
Aluminum Tubing Is an Indicator of an Iraqi Gas Centrifuge Program: But Is the Tubing Specifically for Centrifuges?
David Albright, March 10, 2003

Sept 24, 2002: UK intelligence issues the Sept dossier and includes this charge as proof of Saddam's perfidity.
AKA: the "sexed up dossier".
Original dossier can be found here.
Archived version here: Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction
British Government, Sept 2002

Sept 26, 2002: Colin Powell appeared before the closed Senate Foreign Relations Committee made the charge that Iraq's nuclear ambitions were proven by the attempt to acquire nuclear materials from Niger.
The New Yorker
Seymour M Hersh, March 31, 2003
Comment: It seems pretty clear that Powell included this because the aluminum tubes evidence was under dispute.

Sept 26, 2002: Remarks by Powell disputed, including charge that Iraq had an Al Qeada connection.
Experts skeptical of reports on al-Qaeda-Baghdad link
USA Today, Sept 26, 2002

Late Sept 2002: Senator Bob Graham requests that the report get declassified so it can be released to the public. Result of report: Iraq was not an imminent threat.
This American Life (audio clip)
Senator Bob Graham, Dec 20, 2002

Oct 1, 2002: Tenet produces a declassified National Intelligence Estimate which does not contain any of the nuances or caveats included in original report, but also does not include any mention of evidence of Iraq trying to acquire nuclear material in Africa.
Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs
CIA, October 2002

Oct 7, 2002: Tenet reports that the CIA can declassify further parts of the Iraq threat report.
DCI Tenet Declassifies Further Information on the Iraq Threat
Letter from Tenet to questions from Bob Graham's committee, Oct 7, 2002

Oct 7, 2002: Bush talked about the danger from Saddam's UVAs which he believe are capable of striking the US.
Bush Speech in Cinninati
George W. Bush, October 7, 2002

Early Oct 2002: Senators hear classified testimony that Iraq had capacity to attack the East Coast with WMD.
Florida Today
Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), Dec. 15, 2003

Early Oct 2002: Congress and Senate debate the Iraq resolution believing Iraq has been close to getting nuclear weapons. One example of the mood of the Congress during those days is that of Rep. Hulshof.
Congressional Speech
Comment: The nuclear threat was played up quite prominently in the run up to the vote:
In recent months, U.S. intelligence sources have learned that Iraq is attempting to import hardened aluminum cylinders, which I believe are to be used as a centrifuge for enriching uranium. It has also been documented that Iraq has attempted to acquire fissile materials from Africa and the former Soviet Union.

Oct 10, 2002: House passes the Iraq resolution 296-133.
House Roll Call Vote: To Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq

Oct 11, 2002: Senate passes the Iraq resolution 77-23.
Senate Roll Call Vote: To Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq

Nov 8, 2002: Security Council passes Resolution 1441

Dec 9, 2002: IAEA asks US and Britain to help with investigation into Iraq's report by turning over their evidence, including documents that relate to the Niger charge.
Few to See Full Iraqi Report
Los Angeles Times, Dec 9, 2002
Among the tensions cited by experts Sunday was whether the United States and Britain can share intelligence that could help inspectors find evidence to prove whether the documentation is false without fear that the information would leak and blow the cover of Iraqi informants or other intelligence sources.

Dec 19, 2002: CIA/State Department fact sheet published. The Niger charge was explicitly mentioned as proof that Iraq had not come clean on their nuclear program:
This fact sheet was a joint product of the CIA and State Department and it included this phrase, "The declaration ignores efforts to procure uranium from Niger."
Illustrative Examples of Omissions From the Iraqi Declaration to the United Nations Security Council
State Department Fact Sheet, Dec 19, 2002
Note: the fact sheet has been updated in July 2003 regarding the niger claim with this line: For further information please refer to the State Department Daily Press Briefing of July 14, 2003

Jan 28, 2003: Bush uses the charge in the State of the Union, but says he got it from British intelligence.
State of the Union Address
George W. Bush, Jan 28, 2003
The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production.

Feb 4, 2003: Australian PM Howard uses same intelligence to charge that Saddam is getting nuclear material from Africa.
PM told of doubts on Iraqi arms: US official
The Sydney Morning Herald, July 7, 2003

Feb 2003: Colin Powell is reportedly upset about the intelligence that he is supposed to use to represent the case for war before the UN.
Truth and consequences
US News Report, June 9, 2003
At one point during the rehearsal, Powell tossed several pages in the air. "I'm not reading this," he declared. "This is bullshit." (US News Report June 9, 2003 -- now only available in the paid archive, text available here. )

Feb 5, 2003: Colin Powell's presentation before the UN does not have this charge.
Iraq: Failing to Disarm
Colin Powell, Remarks to UN, Feb 5, 2003
From an Australian newspaper: "Only eight days later when Secretary [of State Colin] Powell made his presentation to the Security Council and didn't mention a word of it, I realised it must be that same piece of garbage we discredited some months earlier," Mr Theilmann said.

Feb 2003: CIA gets handed the Niger documents. After the CIA gets a copy, the administration finally hands them over to the IAEA.
CIA didn't get disputed documents until February 2003 after Bush claim
Boston Globe, July 16, 2003

March 7, 2003: IAEA Director-General Mohammed ElBaradei presents the IAEA assessment of Niger evidence to the Security Council - namely that the Niger documents are a forgery.
IAEA Report
Mohammed ElBaradei, March 7, 2003

March 17, 2003: Henry Waxman writes a letter to the President asking when he knew that the evidence was forged.
Waxman letter to President

March 20, 2003: Iraq War Starts
U.S. launches cruise missiles at Saddam
CNN, March 20, 2003

March 26, 2003: IAEA official reports that both the UK and the USA said the Niger documents were the only proof they had to back the claim that Iraq was trying to buy uranium.
U.N. Official: Fake Iraq Nuke Papers Were Crude
Reuters, March 26, 2003
The IAEA asked the U.S. and Britain if they had any other evidence backing the claim that Iraq tried to buy uranium. The answer was no.

April 29, 2003: Response from State Department to Waxman.
State Department Response to Waxman. (pdf)
Beginning in late 2001, the United States obtained information throught several channels, including U.S. intelligence sources and overt sources, reporting that Iraq had attempted to procure uranium from Africa. In addition, two Western European allies informed us of similar reporting from their own intelligence services. As you know, the UK made this information public in its September 2002 dossier on "Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction." The other Western European ally relayed the information to us privately and said, while it did not believe any uranium had been shipped to Iraq, it believed Iraq had sought to purchase uranium from Niger. We sought several times to determine the basis for the latter assessment, and whether it was based on independent evidence not otherwise available to the U.S. Not until March 4 did we learn that in fact the second Western European government had based its assessment on the evidence already available to the U.S. that was subsequently discredited.

July 9, 2003: Greg Thielmann, retired director for the Strategic, Proliferation, and Military Affairs Office, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, U.S. State Department, reports that the State Department IRE did not find either claim (Iraq trying to purchase uranium and the aluminum tubes being used for a nuclear program) credible before the October vote.
Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction: Reassessing the Prewar Assessments

July 11, 2003: George Tenet says he is responsible for allowing the African uranium charge in the SOTU address.
CIA Director Tenet Accepts Blame for Iraq Passage in Bush Speech

March 2004: David Kay states that Iraq didn't have any WMD and it is important to investigate the reason people got it so wrong.
I mean, it is very hard for institutions to fix problems while they're in denial as to whether the problem really existed. And I am concerned that statements by the vice president and others—principally the vice president and the administration—really raise that issue.
Arms Control Association
Interview with David Kay

Mary :: 11:18 PM :: Comments (8) :: Digg It!