Phase II, the 200+ page Senate intelligence committee's report on pre-war intelligence in Iraq, has revealed the disconnect between what was espoused by Bush Administration officials in the days building up to the war in Iraq, and what was actually known. Besides the simple absence of intelligence, it has also been revealed that the Administration advanced arguments in contradiction of what the intelligence actually showed, in making its case for war.
We've covered Rumsfeld's false testimony to the House Armed Services Committee, and the general outcry from both sides of the aisle over the report.
Today, the LA Times has a good summary of excerpts from the report, which highlight the chasm between what was said by the President and Vice President, and what was actually known:
Statements in dozens of prewar speeches and interviews created the impression that Baghdad and Al Qaeda had forged a partnership. But the report concludes that such assertions "were not substantiated by the intelligence" being shown to senior officials at the time.
Claims that Sept. 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta had met with an Iraqi agent in Prague, for example, were dubious from the beginning and subsequently discounted. The idea that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had provided chemical and biological weapons training to Al Qaeda hinged on intelligence from a source who soon was discredited.
Bush officials strayed even further from the evidence in suggesting that Hussein was prepared to provide weapons of mass destruction to Al Qaeda terrorist groups -- a linchpin in the case for war.
In October 2002, for example, Bush warned in a key speech in Cincinnati that "secretly, and without fingerprints, [Hussein] could provide one of his hidden weapons to terrorists, or help them develop their own." The threat was repeated frequently in the run-up to war but was "contradicted by available intelligence information," the committee says.
On post-war prospects, the report contrasts the rosy scenarios conjured by Cheney and others with more sober intelligence warnings that were being presented to senior officials.
Cheney's prediction that U.S. forces would "be greeted as liberators" was at odds with reports from the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency, which warned nearly a year earlier that invading U.S. forces would face serious resistance from "the Baathists, the jihadists and Arab nationalists who oppose any U.S. occupation of Iraq."
Other findings show that it seems Pentagon officials were duped by known Iranian counterintelligence. From McClatchy:
A small group of Pentagon officials collected dubious intelligence on Iraq and Iran from Iranian exiles whom Defense Department counterintelligence investigators said might have "been used as agents of a foreign intelligence service ... to reach into and influence the highest levels of the U.S. government," the Senate Intelligence Committee reported Thursday.
The revelation raises questions about whether Iran may have tried to use a small cabal of officials in the Pentagon and in Vice President Dick Cheney's office to feed bogus intelligence on Iraq and Iran to senior policymakers in the Bush administration who were eager to oust the Iraqi dictator and who remain determined to combat what President Bush this week called an "existential" threat from Iran.
A 2003 report by the Pentagon's Counterintelligence Field Activity, the Senate committee said, concluded that Michael Ledeen, the American civilian who brokered the contacts through Manucher Ghorbanifar, an Iranian exile whom the CIA in 1984 labeled a "fabricator," and other Iranians "was likely unwitting of any counterintelligence issues related to his relationship with Mr. Ghorbanifar." [Emphasis ours.]