Thursday, February 08, 2007

Pentagon: Feith office massaged intelligence

Did the administration's hand-picked intelligence massager cherry pick and spin the facts in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq?


Intelligence provided by former undersecretary of defense Douglas J. Feith to buttress the White House case for invading Iraq included "reporting of dubious quality or reliability" that supported the political views of senior administration officials rather than the conclusions of the intelligence community, according to a report by the Pentagon's inspector general.

Feith's office "was predisposed to finding a significant relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda," according to portions of the report, released yesterday by Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.). The inspector general described Feith's activities as "an alternative intelligence assessment process."

An unclassified summary of the full document is scheduled for release today in a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which Levin chairs. In that summary, a copy of which was obtained from another source by The Washington Post, the inspector general concluded that Feith's assessment in 2002 that Iraq and al-Qaeda had a "mature symbiotic relationship" was not fully supported by available intelligence but was nonetheless used by policymakers.

This is the office -- the Office of Special Plans -- that turned into Cheney's favorite intelligence factory, and whose assessments were -- for obvious reasons -- preferred to the CIA's own.

Feith and his defenders are focusing on the finding that his activities were found to be legal. An irrelevancy, since the question has always been whether the administration cherry-picked intelligence, not whether such cherry-picking was legal. It's like Bush leaking classified material -- it's by definition legal, since he has the power to declassify anything he wants. That has nothing to do with whether it is right or proper.

More excerpts:

The summary document confirmed a range of accusations that Levin had leveled against Feith's office, alleging inaccurate work.

Feith's office, it said, drew on "both reliable and unreliable" intelligence reports in 2002 to produce a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq "that was much stronger than that assessed by the IC [Intelligence Community] and more in accord with the policy views of senior officials in the Administration."

It stated that the office produced intelligence assessments "inconsistent" with the U.S. intelligence community consensus, calling those actions "inappropriate" because the assessments purported to be "intelligence products" but were far more conclusive than the consensus view.

Notably, Feith's office produced the isolated and discredited intelligence behind the administration's claim that Mohammad Atta met with Iraqi intelligence in Prague in 2001. That's not only an example of Feith's failings; it's proof that the administration relied on Feith's reports to make their public case -- describing them as "classified intelligence" -- even though the inspector general's report contains denials that they viewed Feith's work as intelligence assessments.

Busted. I'll post a link to the actual report once the committee makes it available.

You gotta love it when the opposition takes over Congress. Suddenly we're getting hearings into things we should have had hearings on years ago, and answers are starting to pop out. This goes a long way toward filling the gap left by the Republican Congressional leadership, which never got around to conducting Part II of its analysis of intelligence failures -- the part that was supposed to investigate whether the White House misused intelligence to justify the war.

The initial answer appears to be "yes."

Update: Here's the report's executive summary (pdf). And here's an unclassified presentation on the actual report.

Update II: The Washington Post has issued a fairly big correction on its original report. I discuss it here.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know we got Libby, lets hope we can only continue these trials with Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Elliot Abrams, Dov Zakheim, David Wurmser, Donald Rumsfeld and many others, to expose the real crime of the century. These men intentionally mislead a paranoid White House that Iraq, not al Qaeda, was the main threat to the US. This group pushed our country to war, not to protect the American people from terrorism, but to be an active participant in a dream for a greater Israel. When this war in Iraq is done, over a million Iraqis will have perished, thousands of Americans will be dead with tens of thousands more wounded, lets pray that justice will be served to these traitors.

2/09/2007 10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem with Dems logic is they seem to believe all these conflicts can be separated into nice, little, separate containers in which nothing is related or connected. And certainly, Dems want us to believe Iraq has nothing to do with any of it. But all you need to do is to go pull up and read bin Laden's 1996 and 1998 Fatwa's against America to know you are wrong and you missed the "Big" picture. The main reason he declared that all Americans be killed anywhere, anytime, was because of our involvement in the first Iraq Gulf War. He spoke of his Iraqi brethren.

And yet---the entire world was in support of getting Hussein out of Kuwait back then, if you'll remember. We had 90% of the world's support as well as UN support.

Bin Laden also mentioned the Palestine/Israeli conflict. Lebanon's conflict is also part of it.

You see---the entire Middle East turmoil is ALL related. You cannot pick and choose and separate into nice neat little separate events. One could reasonably argue that there was no imminent threat to us from Saddam Hussein. But by taking him out, Bush has undoubtedly saved some future American president from being forced to do so.


2/12/2007 10:30 AM  
Blogger Not Your Mama said...

Your logic is flawed. Bin Laden referred to his "Iraqi brethren" as in his religious, Sunni Iraqi brethren. Despite Saddam being a Sunni he was considered an oppressor of fundamentalist Sunnis and an enemy by Bin Laden.

The Gulf war was a convenient excuse, he used any and every instance of US presence in ANY middle eastern country as justification, including our presence in Saudi Arabia with his "Saudi brethren".

Are you suggesting we should go overthrow the Saudi government because Bin Laden considers them his "Muslim brothers" therefore they must surely be allied with him?

2/12/2007 11:16 AM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

One could reasonably argue that there was no imminent threat to us from Saddam Hussein. But by taking him out, Bush has undoubtedly saved some future American president from being forced to do so.

At the bargain price of $2 trillion and counting....

Maybe Bush shouldn't do us any more favors.

The logic just doesn't work. He avoided a problem later by making a problem now? How are we better off for that? I'm all for nipping stuff in the bud, but there really needs to be a bud first.

2/12/2007 12:17 PM  

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