Tuesday, April 05, 2005

And Now for the Rest of the Story

The recent report by the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction delineating the failures of the Intelligence Community (IC) in assessing the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq and the IC’s apparent inability to gage the size and scope of the WMD programs in Iran and North Korea only tells half the story. Missing in the report was how the intelligence on Iraq was used or abused by this administration. Deliberately missing from the Commission’s charter was the ability to investigate how the intelligence was massaged by the various departments as it moved up the chain of command to the White House.

In the Pentagon, a little known office was created whose function was to consolidate and “review” the intelligence reporting from the IC. Known as the Office of Special Plans (OSP), it provided cover for the Bush administration in the event no WMD were found in Iraq. What the OSP did, with the full knowledge of the White House, was to remove all the caveats from the intelligence reporting and thus make the intelligence reporting appear to be much stronger than the authors intended it to be.

The Iraq National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) did not have the unanimous support of the IC. At least one intelligence agency wanted to footnote the NIE, indicating it did not agree with the findings of the NIE, but was told to “butt out.” This NIE was used by the administration to prove that Iraq had WMD and intended to give these weapons to terrorists. Since the NIE was going to provide the intellectual underpinnings for the decision to invade Iraq, it was crucial that the IC appeared to be in unanimous agreement as to its veracity.

The sole purpose of these Machiavellian schemes was to provide the White House with what is known in the intelligence world as plausible deniability. If no WMD were found the administration could blame the IC and claim that had it received correct information the invasion might not have happened. If WMD were found it could say see we were right all along. For the White House it was a win- win situation, for the rest of the world including the American public it was just he opposite.

Lest, dear reader, you think I have fabricated this from whole cloth let me give you my qualifications for making these assertions. I retired from the IC as a senior chemical warfare intelligence analyst. I participated in a UN inspection of Iraq’s WMD programs and worked in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and in the IC’s Non-Proliferation Center. I know where the bodies are buried!