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What Congress knew before the Invasion

livefree

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As the Republicans desperately try to re-write history to cover up their crimes against the American people, the Iraqi people, and the world, more and more eyewitnesses to their crimes are speaking out. Now that a majority of Americans have seen that BushCo lied to push America into an illegal and unjustified war of aggression (that has made us all a lot less safe), Karl Rove's spin machine is working overtime (and spewing smoke) trying to convince everybody that "Bush didn't lie because everybody saw the same intel and agreed with the war". Ha. Here is a former US Senator who was chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence during the run-up to the Iraq war. Listen to what he says about just what intel was being passed to Congress. Not 'hearsay', not 'spin', not even a 'flip-flop'. just a straight eyewitness account from someone who was there.

What I Knew Before the Invasion
By Bob Graham

The Washington Post
Sunday, November 20, 2005; Page B07
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/18/AR2005111802397.html

In the past week President Bush has twice attacked Democrats for being hypocrites on the Iraq war. "[M]ore than 100 Democrats in the House and Senate, who had access to the same intelligence, voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power," he said.

The president's attacks are outrageous. Yes, more than 100 Democrats voted to authorize him to take the nation to war. Most of them, though, like their Republican colleagues, did so in the legitimate belief that the president and his administration were truthful in their statements that Saddam Hussein was a gathering menace -- that if Hussein was not disarmed, the smoking gun would become a mushroom cloud.

The president has undermined trust. No longer will the members of Congress be entitled to accept his veracity. Caveat emptor has become the word. Every member of Congress is on his or her own to determine the truth.

As chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence during the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, and the run-up to the Iraq war, I probably had as much access to the intelligence on which the war was predicated as any other member of Congress.

I, too, presumed the president was being truthful -- until a series of events undercut that confidence.

In February 2002, after a briefing on the status of the war in Afghanistan, the commanding officer, Gen. Tommy Franks, told me the war was being compromised as specialized personnel and equipment were being shifted from Afghanistan to prepare for the war in Iraq -- a war more than a year away. Even at this early date, the White House was signaling that the threat posed by Saddam Hussein was of such urgency that it had priority over the crushing of al Qaeda.

In the early fall of 2002, a joint House-Senate intelligence inquiry committee, which I co-chaired, was in the final stages of its investigation of what happened before Sept. 11. As the unclassified final report of the inquiry documented, several failures of intelligence contributed to the tragedy. But as of October 2002, 13 months later, the administration was resisting initiating any substantial action to understand, much less fix, those problems.

At a meeting of the Senate intelligence committee on Sept. 5, 2002, CIA Director George Tenet was asked what the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) provided as the rationale for a preemptive war in Iraq. An NIE is the product of the entire intelligence community, and its most comprehensive assessment. I was stunned when Tenet said that no NIE had been requested by the White House and none had been prepared. Invoking our rarely used senatorial authority, I directed the completion of an NIE.

Tenet objected, saying that his people were too committed to other assignments to analyze Saddam Hussein's capabilities and will to use chemical, biological and possibly nuclear weapons. We insisted, and three weeks later the community produced a classified NIE.

There were troubling aspects to this 90-page document. While slanted toward the conclusion that Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction stored or produced at 550 sites, it contained vigorous dissents on key parts of the information, especially by the departments of State and Energy. Particular skepticism was raised about aluminum tubes that were offered as evidence Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program. As to Hussein's will to use whatever weapons he might have, the estimate indicated he would not do so unless he was first attacked.

Under questioning, Tenet added that the information in the NIE had not been independently verified by an operative responsible to the United States. In fact, no such person was inside Iraq. Most of the alleged intelligence came from Iraqi exiles or third countries, all of which had an interest in the United States' removing Hussein, by force if necessary.

The American people needed to know these reservations, and I requested that an unclassified, public version of the NIE be prepared. On Oct. 4, Tenet presented a 25-page document titled "Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs." It represented an unqualified case that Hussein possessed them, avoided a discussion of whether he had the will to use them and omitted the dissenting opinions contained in the classified version. Its conclusions, such as "If Baghdad acquired sufficient weapons-grade fissile material from abroad, it could make a nuclear weapon within a year," underscored the White House's claim that exactly such material was being provided from Africa to Iraq.

From my advantaged position, I had earlier concluded that a war with Iraq would be a distraction from the successful and expeditious completion of our aims in Afghanistan. Now I had come to question whether the White House was telling the truth -- or even had an interest in knowing the truth.

On Oct. 11, I voted no on the resolution to give the president authority to go to war against Iraq. I was able to apply caveat emptor. Most of my colleagues could not.

*****************************************************************************************
The writer is a former Democratic senator from Florida. He is currently a fellow at Harvard University's Institute of Politics.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)
 

aps

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Hey, livefree, thanks for posting this. I will read this tonight. Interesting....

Also, I believe that the democrats in the senate are seeking to get the presidential daily briefings during the time that led up to the war. They say that if Bush claims they all had the same intelligence, then they should have access to those briefings......
 

oldreliable67

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The 'Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq", ordered reported on July 7, 2004 can be found here.

It is quite lengthy (500+ pages) but very interesting.
 

aps

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oldreliable67 said:
The 'Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq", ordered reported on July 7, 2004 can be found here.

It is quite lengthy (500+ pages) but very interesting.
I'm more interested in Phase II of this report.
 

oldreliable67

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Interested parties will want to read the Senate's NIE Analysis for themselves, and given the temper of the times, they should. To whet the appetite, here are a couple of observations and quotes...

> The report examines the following issues:

* Iraq's links to terrorists and terrorists organizations
* the Niger uranium question
* Iraq's wmds, both chemical and nuclear
* Whether or not administration officials coerced or attempted to influence the conclusions of the intelligence community (IC)

> In general, the report was very critical of the IC's handling of many aspects of intelligence both leading up to and following 9/11 and the Iraq war. Many of these failures are documented and discussed.

> a sampling of the 100+ conclusions:

Conclusion 83. The Committee did not find any evidence that Administration officials attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to change their judgements related to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities.

Conclusion 84. The Committee found no evidence that the Vice President's visits to the Central Intelligence Agency were attempts to pressure analysts, were perceived as intended to pressure analysts by those who participated in the briefings on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs, or did pressure analysts to change their assessments.

Conclusion 95. The Central Intelligence Agency's assessment on safehaven - that al Qaida or associated operatives were present in Baghdad and in northeastern Iraq in an area under Kurdish control - was reasonable.

Impression number 1: In general, the CIA doesn't come off looking very good in this report. In fact, if one accepts this report as even partial instead of whole truth, it is no wonder that Tenet is no longer heading the CIA.

Impression number 2: The report shows no evidence of misuse or exagerration or other malfeasance with the material presented by the Administration.

Those are my impressions. As always, your mileage may vary.
 

aps

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oldreliable67 said:
Interested parties will want to read the Senate's NIE Analysis for themselves, and given the temper of the times, they should. To whet the appetite, here are a couple of observations and quotes...

> The report examines the following issues:

* Iraq's links to terrorists and terrorists organizations
* the Niger uranium question
* Iraq's wmds, both chemical and nuclear
* Whether or not administration officials coerced or attempted to influence the conclusions of the intelligence community (IC)

> In general, the report was very critical of the IC's handling of many aspects of intelligence both leading up to and following 9/11 and the Iraq war. Many of these failures are documented and discussed.

> a sampling of the 100+ conclusions:

Conclusion 83. The Committee did not find any evidence that Administration officials attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to change their judgements related to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities.

Conclusion 84. The Committee found no evidence that the Vice President's visits to the Central Intelligence Agency were attempts to pressure analysts, were perceived as intended to pressure analysts by those who participated in the briefings on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs, or did pressure analysts to change their assessments.

Conclusion 95. The Central Intelligence Agency's assessment on safehaven - that al Qaida or associated operatives were present in Baghdad and in northeastern Iraq in an area under Kurdish control - was reasonable.

Impression number 1: In general, the CIA doesn't come off looking very good in this report. In fact, if one accepts this report as even partial instead of whole truth, it is no wonder that Tenet is no longer heading the CIA.

Impression number 2: The report shows no evidence of misuse or exagerration or other malfeasance with the material presented by the Administration.

Those are my impressions. As always, your mileage may vary.
See bold above. So then explain to me why George Tenet received the highest civilian award from Bush if he messed up as much as he did? I don't get giving someone who has humilated the United States in providing inaccurate intelligence would get awarded with such a high honor. Please help me understand.
 

oldreliable67

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I'm more interested in Phase II of this report.
Yes, indeed. The committee was pressured by the Dems to provide an update on the progress of Phase II - though I think it is relatively soon, I don't recall just now what the eta is for the update. That will also be interesting. The composition of the panel, with three Dems and three Repubs reduces the possibility of any one party unduly influencing the outcome. I think they did a pretty good job of keeping the politics out of Part I; hopefully they'll do the same with Part II and stick to facts and let'em fall where they will.
 

oldreliable67

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So then explain to me why George Tenet received the highest civilian award from Bush if he messed up as much as he did?
I certainly can't explain it. I can only tell you that when I saw that he was to receive that award, I was just floored. I can only surmise that it was a bit of political patronage, particularly for those years prior to 9/11 in which (many think) that Tenet did a reasonably good job. I personally find it (the award to Tenet) offensive.
 

aps

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oldreliable67 said:
I certainly can't explain it. I can only tell you that when I saw that he was to receive that award, I was just floored. I can only surmise that it was a bit of political patronage, particularly for those years prior to 9/11 in which (many think) that Tenet did a reasonably good job. I personally find it (the award to Tenet) offensive.
Ahhhh, you sound very reasonable! I totally agree. I could not believe he received that award as well. Can I tell you why I think he got it? This is just my own hypothesis. I think that while the intelligence Tenet provided was "dead wrong," he still provided the intelligence that got us into a war that Bush really wanted. Apparently, he was talking about Iraq in January 2001--prior to any terrorist attack (both Richard Clarke and Paul O'Neill said this).
 

cnredd

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aps said:
Ahhhh, you sound very reasonable! I totally agree. I could not believe he received that award as well. Can I tell you why I think he got it? This is just my own hypothesis. I think that while the intelligence Tenet provided was "dead wrong," he still provided the intelligence that got us into a war that Bush really wanted. Apparently, he was talking about Iraq in January 2001--prior to any terrorist attack (both Richard Clarke and Paul O'Neill said this).
But he was also the source for Clinton attacking the alleged pharmaceutical plant in the Sudan...I don't recall anyone saying that that was "what Clinton really wanted"...

I dug this up from 2003...

Since taking over as director of the Central Intelligence Agency in 1997, Tenet has presided over an astonishing litany of intelligence disasters. Some were fiascos because the CIA didn't know what was about to happen: India and Pakistan's nuclear tests in 1998, al-Qaida's bombings that same year of two American Embassies in East Africa, the attacks of Sept. 11. Others occurred because the agency permitted the use of bad intelligence: President Clinton's strike on Sudan's Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory, the accidental bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia during the Kosovo war, and the current dustup over Tenet's failure to strike a disputed statement from President Bush's State of the Union address...

...Before critics such as New York Times columnists Paul Krugman and Nicholas D. Kristof lambasted the Bush administration for politicizing the CIA's intelligence analyses, spooks blasted Tenet's agency for doing the same thing during the Clinton administration. An anonymous CIA official told the National Review in October 2002 that he was badgered "for writing analyses that did not jibe with Clinton foreign policy," and another former CIA analyst wrote in 1999 on the Washington Post op-ed page, "Politicization of intelligence estimates continues to flourish under Tenet's leadership."

http://www.slate.com/id/2085805

It seems that this guy should've never made it to see the Bush Administration in office...

How he got a medal is beyond me...:shock:
 
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