Senate Committee: Bush Exaggerated Prewar Iraq Intel

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By: E&P Staff

The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, led by and a bipartisan majority of the Committee. on Thursday unveiled the final two sections of its Phase II report on prewar intelligence, which detail Bush administration misstatements and exaggerations on prewar Iraq intel.

Republicans Chuck Hagel and Olympia Snowe joined with the Democrats.

The first report details administration prewar statements that, according to the committee, ?on numerous occasions, misrepresented the intelligence and the threat from Iraq.? The second report details inappropriate, sensitive intelligence activities conducted by the Department of Defense?s Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, without the knowledge of the Intelligence Community or the State Department.

?Before taking the country to war, this Administration owed it to the American people to give them a 100 percent accurate picture of the threat we faced. Unfortunately, our Committee has concluded that the Administration made significant claims that were not supported by the intelligence,? said John D. Rockefeller IV, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, on the committee’s Web site. ?In making the case for war, the administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent. As a result, the American people were led to believe that the threat from Iraq was much greater than actually existed.

?It is my belief that the Bush Administration was fixated on Iraq, and used the 9/11 attacks by al Qa?ida as justification for overthrowing Saddam Hussein,? Rockefeller added. ?To accomplish this, top Administration officials made repeated statements that falsely linked Iraq and al Qa?ida as a single threat and insinuated that Iraq played a role in 9/11.

?Sadly, the Bush Administration led the nation into war under false pretenses.

?There is no question we all relied on flawed intelligence. But, there is a fundamental difference between relying on incorrect intelligence and deliberately painting a picture to the American people that you know is not fully accurate.

?These reports represent the final chapter in our oversight of prewar intelligence. They complete the story of mistakes and failures — both by the Intelligence Community and the Administration — in the lead up to the war. Fundamentally, these reports are about transparency and holding our government accountable, and making sure these mistakes never happen again,? Rockefeller added.

The report cites several instances in which the Bush administration?s public statements were not supported by the intelligence. Among them:

* Statements and implications by the president and secretary of state suggesting that Iraq and al-Qa?ida had a partnership, or that Iraq had provided al-Qa?ida with weapons training, were not substantiated by the intelligence.

* Statements by the president and the vice president indicating that Saddam Hussein was prepared to give weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups for attacks against the United States were contradicted by available intelligence information.

* Statements by President Bush and Vice President Cheney regarding the postwar situation in Iraq, in terms of the political, security, and economic, did not reflect the concerns and uncertainties expressed in the intelligence products.

* Statements by the president and vice president prior to the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iraq?s chemical weapons production capability and activities did not reflect the intelligence community?s uncertainties as to whether such production was ongoing.

* The secretary of defense?s statement that the Iraqi government operated underground WMD facilities that were not vulnerable to conventional airstrikes because they were underground and deeply buried was not substantiated by available intelligence information.

* The Intelligence Community did not confirm that Muhammad Atta met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in 2001 as the Vice President repeatedly claimed.

Republicans on the committee who dissented from the report’s findings attached a detailed minority report that lists pre-war statements by Rockefeller and other Democrats describing the Iraq threat.

The minority report, signed by Sen. Christopher S. Bond of Missouri, the committee?s top Republican, and three Republican colleagues, said, “The report released today was a waste of committee time and resources that should have been spent overseeing the intelligence community.”

To download the full report, go here.
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E&P Editor Greg Mitchell’s new book is on this subject, and is titled “So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits — and the President — Failed on the Iraq.”

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