U.S. Insiders Say Iraq Intel Deliberately Skewed
A key target is a four-person Pentagon (news - web sites) team that reviewed
material gathered by other intelligence outfits for any missed
bits that might have tied Iraqi President Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) to
banned weapons or terrorist groups.
This team, self-mockingly called the Cabal, "cherry-picked
the intelligence stream" in a bid to portray Iraq as an
imminent threat, said Patrick Lang, a former head of worldwide
human intelligence gathering for the Defense Intelligence
Agency, which coordinates military intelligence.
The DIA was "exploited and abused and bypassed in the
process of making the case for war in Iraq based on the
presence of WMD," or weapons of mass destruction, he added in a
phone interview. He said the CIA (news - web sites) had "no guts at all" to resist
the allegedly deliberate skewing of intelligence by a Pentagon
that he said was now dominating U.S. foreign policy.
Vince Cannistraro, a former chief of Central Intelligence
Agency (news - web sites) counterterrorist operations, said he knew of serving
intelligence officers who blame the Pentagon for playing up
"fraudulent" intelligence, "a lot of it sourced from the Iraqi
National Congress of Ahmad Chalabi."
The INC, which brought together groups opposed to Saddam,
worked closely with the Pentagon to build a for the early use
of force in Iraq.
"There are current intelligence officials who believe it is
a scandal," he said in a telephone interview. They believe the
administration, before going to war, had a "moral obligation to
use the best information available, not just information that
fits your preconceived ideas."
CHEMICAL WEAPONS REPORT 'SIMPLY WRONG'
The top Marine Corps officer in Iraq, Lt. Gen. James
Conway, said on Friday U.S. intelligence was "simply wrong" in
leading military commanders to fear troops were likely to be
attacked with chemical weapons in the March invasion of Iraq
that ousted Saddam.
Richard Perle, a Chalabi backer and member of the Defense
Policy Board that advises Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld,
defended the four-person unit in a television interview.
"They established beyond any doubt that there were
connections that had gone unnoticed in previous intelligence
analysis," he said on the PBS NewsHour Thursday.
A Pentagon spokesman, Marine Lt. Col. David Lapan, said the
team in question analyzed links among terrorist groups and
alleged state sponsors and shared conclusions with the CIA.
"In one case, a briefing was presented to Director of
Central Intelligence Tenet. It dealt with the links between
Iraq and al Qaeda," the group blamed for the Sept. 2001 attacks
on the United States, he said.
Tenet denied charges the intelligence community, on which
the United States spends more than $30 billion a year, had
skewed its analysis to fit a political agenda, a cardinal sin
for professionals meant to tell the truth regardless of
"I'm enormously proud of the work of our analysts," he said
in a statement on Friday ahead of an internal review. "The
integrity of our process has been maintained throughout and any
suggestion to the contrary is simply wrong."
Tenet sat conspicuously behind Secretary of State Colin
Powell (news - web sites) during a key Feb. 5 presentation to the U.N. Security
Council arguing Iraq represented an ominous and urgent threat
-- as if to lend the CIA's credibility to the presentation,
replete with satellite photos.
Powell said Friday his presentation was "the best analytic
product that we could have put up."
SHAPED 'FROM THE TOP DOWN'
Greg Thielmann, who retired in September after 25 years in
the State Department, the last four in the Bureau of
Intelligence and Research working on weapons, said it appeared
to him that intelligence had been shaped "from the top down."
"The normal processing of establishing accurate
intelligence was sidestepped" in the runup to invading Iraq,
said David Albright, a former U.N. weapons inspector who is
president of the Institute for Science and International
Security and who deals with U.S. intelligence officers.
Anger among security professionals appears widespread.
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, a group that
says it is made up mostly of CIA intelligence analysts, wrote
to U.S. President George Bush May 1 to hit what they called "a
policy and intelligence fiasco of monumental proportions."
"In intelligence there is one unpardonable sin -- cooking
intelligence to the recipe of high policy," it wrote. "There is
ample indication this has been done with respect to Iraq."