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Bush officials defend Iraq intelligence

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Bush officials defend Iraq intelligence
House leaders alleged 'deficiencies' before war

Monday, September 29, 2003 Posted: 11:09 AM EDT (1509 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Bush administration officials used Sunday's talk shows to shrug off criticism that going to war with Iraq was based on outdated, "fragmentary" and "circumstantial" evidence, as was asserted in a letter to the CIA director from the leaders of the House Intelligence Committee.

National security adviser Condoleezza Rice said the administration relied on "an enrichment" of 5-year-old intelligence in its claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said the administration changed its view of Iraq after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

"I believed then that [Iraqi President Saddam Hussein] had weapons of mass destruction," Powell said on CNN's "Late Edition." "We didn't think it was significant.

"But a lot changed with 9/11," Powell said. "With 9/11, we saw what could happen with the nexus between nations that had weapons of mass destruction and terrorists who might be anxious to get those weapons of mass destruction."

The letter to CIA Director George Tenet was sent last week by Rep. Porter Goss of Florida, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and Rep. Jane Harman of California, the committee's ranking Democrat.

The committee spent the past several months going through 19 volumes of classified material Bush officials used to make their case for war with Iraq, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

Porter and Harman told Tenet they found "significant deficiencies" in the U.S. intelligence community's ability to collect fresh intelligence on Iraq after U.N. weapons inspectors left in 1998, the Post reported.

They said intelligence agencies instead relied on "past assessments" and "some new 'piecemeal' intelligence" that "were not challenged as a routine matter," the Post reported.

The CIA responded by saying it stood "fully behind its findings and judgments" concerning its intelligence on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

"The notion that our community does not challenge standing judgments is absurd," CIA spokesman Bill Harlow said in a statement.

Powell told reporters the "CIA has also suggested that Mr. Goss and Ms. Harman dig a little deeper into the material they've been provided, and so I hope they will do that."

Powell insisted Iraq had weapons of mass destruction leading up to the war.

"The previous administration acknowledged it. President Clinton found it necessary to bomb his facilities," Powell said.

"And then there was this four-year period, there was a gap. Are we supposed to believe that: Oh, gee, he gave up all that capability, he no longer has the intent?"

Rice said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that "it's just not logical" to believe that Saddam got rid of the weapons of mass destruction before the war.

"One would have had to believe that somehow after Saddam Hussein made it impossible for the inspectors to do their work in 1998, that things got better, that he suddenly destroyed the weapons of mass destruction and then carried on this elaborate deception to keep the world from knowing he destroyed the weapons of mass destruction," Rice said.

Powell said he would not comment on the progress report being prepared by CIA official and former U.N. weapons inspector David Kay, whom the administration dispatched to Iraq in June to lead a search for banned weapons. Kay's team has not so far reported finding any weapons of mass destruction.

But Powell indicated that Saddam's previous use of poison gas on other Iraqis mattered more than the apparent absence of such weapons now.
Colin Powell defended the Bush administration's position Sunday on CNN's "Late Edition."

"I saw the mass graves," he said. "I saw the victims. I saw the lost loved ones."

Rice said on "Fox News Sunday" that Kay's report would not likely "draw any conclusions."

"I think it's far too early to draw conclusions about what he's finding," Rice said. "It has to be kept in the context of a progress report.

"I suspect, when we see it, we're going to learn that there's a long way to go," she said. "This was a program that was built for concealment over a long period of time."

Rice said on NBC that Kay "is now in a very careful process of determining the status of those weapons and precisely what became of them."

Kay is interviewing "hundreds" of people, collecting physical evidence, and going through "miles and miles of documentation," Rice said.

Rice told Fox that an "enrichment" of old intelligence about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction informed President Bush's decision to go to war but said "conjecture" was not the right word to describe the process.

"The president believes that he had very good intelligence going into the war," she said. "He stands behind what the director of intelligence told him."

Saddam, she said, was known to have had weapons of mass destruction before the Persian Gulf War of 1991.

Since the end of that war, three U.S. administrations and the United Nations had relied on "an accumulation of evidence" and an "enrichment of the intelligence of 1998 leading up to the war," she said.

"Nothing pointed to a reversal," she said. "It was very clear this had continued and it was a gathering danger."

As Rice said on the NBC program, "This was a threat that the president of the United States could no longer allow to remain there. We tried containment. We learned that he had increased his capacity to spend resources on weapons of mass destruction from $500 million in illegal oil revenues to $3 billion."

Citing "procurement networks and reconstitution of groups of scientists," Rice said "conjecture is not the right word" for the intelligence that led the administration to pull the trigger on Iraq.

"There were many, many doubts about what was going on in Iraq after 1998," she said on Fox.

Powell, on ABC's "This Week," said: "I don't think we have anything to be regretful about. The mass graves are now being opened for people to see. The destruction that Saddam Hussein wrought upon his own people's own infrastructure is now obvious.

"And so I have no second thoughts about what we did."

What do you guys think?
post #2 of 7
I think, to put it politely, that they are full of poop. They made a massive blunder and are now saying "Well, yeah maybe he doesn't have them NOW, but he sure had them then so it's all OK." Pure unadulterated bullpoop.

The excuse that they had the weapons 12 years ago is asinine. Are we invading the former Soviet Union and saying "We know you've still got nukes here somewhere!!" No, we're not.

IMO Bush and his cronies picked a place where they thought they would be recieved as conquering heroes freeing an enslaved people. Didn't turn out that way and now they're stuck. Scratch that, it's not them it's the military that's stuck there. They can't just up and leave without helping form some kind of government, and wouldn't you know it, Bush is dragging his big stupid feet on that.

We all got dragged along on this ride of theirs, and now that they've woken up to the fact that they aren't gonna be able to do a victory dance and tell the UN "We told you so!!" they want to cover their butts. Well I for one ain't buying.
post #3 of 7
What did you expect? They HAVE to say that, whether they believe it or not. For them to do a reversal now and say the intelligence was bad would be admitting that we went in and removed him from power erroneously, which would open the door for him to waltz back into Baghdad and reclaim power. For the rest of time, no matter what is or isn't found, they will stick with this story. They have to.
post #4 of 7
This is yesterday's editorial from the Minneapolis Star Tribune :

Editorial: Kay's report/No WMD, no case for war

Published October 4, 2003

If chief weapons hunter David Kay's interim report to Congress had instead been an interim, peacetime report to the U.N. Security Council, it would have been a fine report. Kay and his teams obviously are conscientious and professional in their work.

But that's not what the report was. A war has occurred, a preemptive war undertaken principally on grounds that Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq posed a serious danger to the United States and the world: He had deployable chemical weapons, biological weapons and was actively seeking a nuclear capability.

Kay reported finding no WMD but did find evidence that Saddam retained an interest in them and that he had concealed some WMD material from U.N. weapons inspectors. Neither point is surprising; Saddam's interest was well established, and he had consistently played cat-and-mouse with U.N. inspectors. But that had not deterred those inspectors from finding and destroying large quantities of chemical and biological weapons, plus the machinery needed to produce or deliver them. If anything, Kay's report illustrates the reasonableness of allowing U.N. inspectors more time in Iraq before a preemptive war was initiated.

But the Bush administration didn't want to wait. It dispatched Secretary of State Colin Powell to the Security Council to make the case for war. Powell:

• Claimed that Saddam had failed to account for as much as 25,000 liters of anthrax. Kay has found none of it.

• Claimed that Iraq had a number of mobile biological and chemical weapons production facilities "on wheels and on rails." Kay has found none of them. U.S. forces discovered two mobile rigs that could have been used for WMD but also could have been used for other activities.

• Powell cited information from a number of Iraqi defectors. Most were supplied by the Iraqi National Congress, an exile group with an agenda. Most have been thoroughly discredited.

• Claimed Iraq had unmanned aircraft that could be used to deliver WMD abroad. None has been found.

• Said that Saddam "has never accounted for vast amounts of chemical weaponry." None has been found.

• Claimed that Saddam had aluminum tubes that "can be used as centrifuges for enriching uranium." They were, as the Iraqis said, meant for rocket bodies.

• Said that Saddam had been attempting to acquire gas centrifuges for nuclear weapons production. Following the war, one Iraqi scientist led Americans to parts for such a centrifuge that he had buried in his garden 12 years earlier and had never been told to dig up. Why wouldn't a regime intent on securing such equipment abroad first dig up what they already had?

A complete examination of Powell's unsubstantiated claims is impossible here (a transcript of his comments is available at www.startribune.com/2cents , along with Kay's statement to Congress for comparison). Kay is doing a good job in Iraq (though it boggles the mind that he will need $600 million to complete it). But he has not provided, and probably cannot provide, evidence to support the case for war the Bush administration made to the American people and the world. Did the Bush administration lie? More likely it believed and exaggerated what fit its desires and discarded what didn't. That is just as outrageous, when the price is the lives of U.S. troops.
post #5 of 7
I really feel sorry for the troops who are out there, away from their loved ones.
post #6 of 7
I feel sorry for the innocent citizens of Iraq and the troops. The mass majority of Iraqi's still support the troops. The citizens are under attack right along with the troops. That part is not going to get better until they capture or kill Saddam.

As far as Bush goes.... While I'm glad Saddam is gone, I also think and have always thought, G.W. is on a mission of revenge for his father. I suspect he was well aware of the bad intelligence ahead of time. We had much bigger fish to fry then Saddam Hussein. Even though he's evil and deserved to be overthrown.

Bush scares me with his "my way or the highway" policies. It's just going to make the rest of the world hate us even more. And we don't need that! (It does matter.)
post #7 of 7
I agree MzJazz. Some of my friends families are suffering back home also while the troops are there, I can't say if they are upset at them or upset at the whole situation. This whole war was to go after Saddam who has suddenly disappeared as well as Bin Laden. The same excuses were used for going to war in Afghanistan and now we have two dangerous freaks hiding, so constantly that puts us in the seat of looking over our shoulders. And it doesn't make us look good at all in the eyes of other countries. This is the worst I've seen where an administration is not getting any 'cool points' from anyone.
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