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Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Pre-War Intelligence on Iraq, July 9, 2004

Full text of the Intelligence Committee Report is available at: http://intelligence.senate.gov/. Senator Pat Roberts (Republican Kansas) is the Committee Chair. Senator John D. Rockefeller IV (Democrat West Virginia) is the Vice Chair.

The Senate Select Committee On Intelligence Releases Its Report On Pre-War Intelligence on Iraq, Press Release from Senator Pat Roberts

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence today released the Committee's yearlong sweeping report on prewar intelligence on Iraq.

"One year ago," Senator Roberts said, "We made a commitment to the Congress and to the American people that we would examine the quality and quantity of intelligence that led to the Iraq war.

"The debate over many aspects of the U.S. liberation of Iraq will likely continue for decades, but one fact is now clear: before the war, the U.S. Intelligence Community told the president, the Congress, and the public that Saddam had stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and, if left unchecked, would probably have a nuclear weapon during this decade. Today we know these assessments were wrong.

"This report cries out for reform. I intend for the Committee to examine closely all proposals for change, keeping in mind that we should first do no harm and avoid as best we can the law of unintended consequences. We should direct our actions only against identifiable problems that lend themselves to legislative solutions.

"I intend to construct an intelligence capability worthy of this great nation and those who perform this difficult and often dangerous work. These brave, hard-working men and women of the Intelligence Community who, at times, risk their lives to keep us safe are hampered by a flawed system that does not allow them to do their best work or allow us to get the most value out of that work. We need to honor their toil and sacrifices by giving them an Intelligence Community worthy of their efforts. This I intend to do."

Entitled the "Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence on Iraq," it is the culmination of the Committee's work starting in June, 2003 when it began its formal review of the quantity and quality of U.S. intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs, ties to terrorist groups, Saddam Hussein's threat to stability and security in the region, and his repression of his own people. The Committee examined the objectivity, reasonableness, independence and accuracy of the judgements reached by the Intelligence Community and whether those judgements were properly disseminated to policy makers. They also examined whether any influence was brought to bear on anyone in the community to shape their analysis to support policy objectives.

Committee staff reviewed over 45,000 documents from the Intelligence Community and interviewed over 200 individuals as part of this report. This exhaustive research led to the following overall conclusions of the report supported unanimously by the members of the Committee:

  • Most of the key judgments in the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq's WMD programs were either overstated or were not supported by the raw intelligence reporting.
  • The Intelligence Community did not accurately or adequately explain the uncertainties behind the judgments in the October 2002 NIE to policy makers, both in the executive branch and here on Capitol Hill. The Intelligence Community was suffering from a collective "group think" which led analysts, collectors and managers to presume that Iraq had active and growing WMD programs.
  • In a few significant instances, the analysis in the NIE suffered from a layering effect whereby assessments were built based on previous judgments without carrying forward the uncertainties of those judgments.
  • There was a failure by Intelligence Community managers to adequately encourage analysts to challenge their assumptions, fully consider alternative arguments, accurately characterize intelligence reporting and counsel analysts who had lost their objectivity.
  • There were significant shortcomings in almost every aspect of the Intelligence Community's human intelligence collection efforts against the Iraqi WMD target. Most alarmingly, after 1998, the CIA had no human intelligence sources inside Iraq who were collecting against the WMD target. In addition to this lack of good source reporting, the CIA excessively compartmented its sensitive human intelligence reporting. Most, if not all, of these problems stem from a broken corporate culture and poor management, and cannot be solved by simply adding funding and personnel.
  • The CIA abused its unique position in the Intelligence Community, to the detriment of this nation's pre-war analysis concerning Iraq's WMD programs.
  • The Committee found no evidence that the Intelligence Community's mischaracterization or exaggeration of the intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities was the result of political pressure.

The Senate Intelligence Committee will hold public hearings on its findings and continues to examine additional issues regarding the accuracy and timeliness of the intelligence on Iraq.

The full text of the report is available at: http://intelligence.senate.gov/

Source: http://roberts.senate.gov/

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There is simply no question that the mistakes leading up to the war in Iraq rank among the most devastating intelligence failures - with the most grave consequences - in the history of our nation.

Our men and women in uniform are serving with distinction, but the fact is that the Administration at all levels, and to some extent the Congress, used bad information to bolster the case for war. And we in Congress would not have authorized that war if we knew then what we know now.

On September 11, our government didn't connect the dots. In Iraq, we are even more culpable, because the dots themselves didn't exist.

Tragically, the intelligence failures set forth in this report will affect our national security for generations to come. Our credibility is diminished, and we have fostered a deep hatred of Americans in the Muslim world. Our standing in the world has never been lower. As a direct consequence, our nation is more vulnerable today than ever before.

I do want to add a few words to Chairman Roberts' remarks about the specifics of the report - a report that I believe is absolutely outstanding. It is a tribute to the staff, to Chairman Roberts and to all of my colleagues on the Committee.

We worked well together, and we worked through our differences, because we understood that the very security of our nation was at stake. We kept the investigation moving forward even when we weren't getting cooperation from the Administration. In the end we produced a report that garnered unanimous committee support - something nobody would have predicted at the outset.

Which isn't to say that there aren't areas of disagreement - there are, especially on the question of whether the Administration pressured the intelligence community to reach predetermined conclusions.

And there is real frustration over what's not in this report, since the whole question of whether intelligence was hyped or misused by policymakers has been relegated to a Phase II effort.

Yet even with those disagreements, the report is absolutely first-rate. Our investigation was objective; our findings are detailed; and our conclusions are devastating.

We found that the intelligence judgments regarding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs were not supported by the underlying intelligence. Those judgments overstated what analysts knew and then failed to explain relevant uncertainties and events.

The report points out that the Intelligence Community began with a presumption that Iraq had the weapons, never fully questioned that assumption, and then viewed virtually every bit of ambiguous information as supporting the premise that weapons were there.

On the other hand, our report found that the Intelligence Community's judgments were right on Iraq's ties to terrorists, which is another way of saying that the Administration's conclusions were wrong. There was no formal relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda and there was no evidence of Iraqi complicity or assistance in al-Qaeda terrorist attacks, including 9-11.

Importantly, this report underscores the need for reforming the Intelligence Community. In the last two years, the Committee has now produced two major reports - the 9/11 inquiry and this Iraq report - in the last two years highlighting flaws in our intelligence system. The specific problems identified by these two reviews are different, but together they paint a devastating picture. We can and must act now to correct these flaws.

I believe the next step is to have the acting Director of Central Intelligence John McLaughlin back before the Committee at a hearing open to the public to explain how the Intelligence Community is addressing the shortcomings outlined in our report.

Then we need to develop reform legislation. We need to put one person in charge of the Intelligence community; integrate the work of the 15 agencies conducting intelligence work; improve our human intelligence; mandate red teams (people whose job it is to challenge analysis); and better insulate the intelligence community from political pressure.

With threat levels continuing to rise, the time for reform is now.

Finally, while the report does an excellent job of pointing out the Intelligence Community's shortcomings, I must say again that it is still an incomplete picture of what occurred during the national debate over the decision to invade Iraq.

Regrettably, the scope of our investigation was divided into two phases. The central issue of how intelligence on Iraq was exaggerated by Bush Administration officials was relegated to the second phase of the Committee's investigation, along with other issues related to the intelligence activities of Pentagon policy officials, pre-war intelligence assessments about post-war Iraq, and the role played by Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress.

The Bush Administration's primary justification for the pre-emptive invasion of Iraq was based on three assertions: one, that Iraq had stockpiled and weaponized chemical and biological weapons; two, that Iraq was actively pursuing a nuclear weapon; and three, that Iraq might use its alliances with terrorist organizations, including al-Qaeda, to use these weapons to strike at the United States.

On the first two points of the Administration's case for invasion, the Committee report details how each of the pillars in the Intelligence Community's October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate - assessments of Iraq's nuclear, chemical, biological, and delivery programs - was built upon a weak foundation of intelligence and analytical assumptions, unable to support the collective weight of the document's key judgments.

The October weapons of mass destruction estimate -- which was produced only after members of our Committee requested it -- was hastily cobbled together in three weeks using stale, fragmentary, and speculative intelligence reports and was replete with factual errors and unsupported judgments.

These analytical failures were then compounded, in my view, by Administration officials who undertook a relentless public campaign prior to the war which repeatedly characterized the Iraqi weapons programs in more ominous and threatening terms than the Intelligence Community analysis substantiated.

Similarly, Administration statements on Iraq's links to terrorism and al-Qaeda- the third justification for war against Iraq - implied a cooperative, operational relationship, including links to the September 11th plot that the Intelligence Community did not believe existed.

In short, we went to war in Iraq based on false claims.

During a critical time in our Nation's history - an 18-month period spanning the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, to the invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003 - the credibility of the Intelligence Community was significantly compromised.

A capable, independent Intelligence Community is an essential piece of our national security mosaic. For it to be compromised at a time when America must decide whether send our servicemen and women into combat created a dangerous gap in the information the Congress and the American public desperately needed.

This cannot happen again.


Source: http://rockefeller.senate.gov/

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