This entry was posted on
Friday, April 1st, 2005 at
8:13 am and is filed
under It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!.
Washington Post – Data on Iraqi Arms Flawed, Panel Says: U.S. intelligence agencies were “dead wrong” in their prewar assessments of Iraq’s nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and today know “disturbingly little” about the capabilities and intentions of other potential adversaries such as Iran and North Korea, a presidential commission reported yesterday. While praising intelligence successes in Libya and Pakistan, the commission’s report offered a withering critique of the government’s collection of information leading to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, calling its data “either worthless or misleading” and its analysis “riddled with errors.” That resulted in one of the “most damaging intelligence failures in recent American history.”… Yet while unstinting in its appraisal of intelligence agencies, the panel that Bush appointed under pressure in February 2004 said it was “not authorized” to explore the question of how the commander in chief used the faulty information to make perhaps the most critical decision of his presidency. As he accepted the report yesterday, Bush offered no thoughts about relying on flawed intelligence to launch a war and took no questions from reporters…. The nine-member panel, officially called the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, blamed intelligence agencies for overselling their knowledge and not disclosing conflicting information to policymakers. At the same time, it exonerated Bush and Vice President Cheney from allegations of pressuring analysts to conclude that Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction. “The analysts who worked Iraqi weapons issues universally agreed that in no instance did political pressure cause them to skew or alter any of their analytical judgments,” the commission said. “That said, it is hard to deny the conclusion that intelligence analysts worked in an environment that did not encourage skepticism about the conventional wisdom.”
This all seems terribly familiar. A deliberately blinkered remit, the vague suggestion of subconscious influence…
Ben Russell sees things differently, but mainly because he focuses on the savaging the intelligence services got (he does get there in the final paragraphs, which I’ve included here)…
Independent – Two nations, two reports, two very different languages: The contrast between the language in the Presidential Commission report on intelligence and the British inquiries into the run-up to war in Iraq could not be starker. From the first paragraph of the 618-page report, the 10 members of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States cut to the chase in words a world away from those in the Butler and Hutton reports. Where Lord Butler found that “validation of human intelligence sources after the war has thrown doubt on a high proportion of those sources and their reports”, the US Commission said the intelligence community was “dead wrong in almost all of its pre-war judgements”…. The Commission insisted that it was “not authorised to investigate how policymakers used the intelligence assessments they received”. That echoed a complaint about Lord Butler’s inquiry, which was not charged with looking at the use of intelligence by politicians, although it did criticise the decision to remove caveats from the intelligence judgements presented in the Government’s dossier on Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction.
So there you have it. The buck stops… somewhere over there. Again.
An important thing to remember about this is that Mr “darn good intelligence” was warned that this intelligence was often unreliable or downright false, but this conflicted with his agenda so he chose to ignore those warnings.
Something else that’s important about this commission may have slipped your mind. Blair bent over backwards (or forwards, depending on your view) to appease Bush… but the moment things got awkward, Bush dumped him in it without hesitation…