New York Times: How the White House Embraced Disputed Iraqi Arms Intelligence—it seems the administration knew (or, for those who didn't read intelligence reports, should have known) that “the government’s foremost nuclear experts had concluded” that the aluminum tubes on which the administration based much of its claim that Iraq was trying to build nuclear weapons “were most likely not for nuclear weapons at all.” Oddly, though, CIA head George Tenet seems for a long time to have made no effort to learn about the views of his most expert subordinates, or to understand the reasons for their disagreement with the analysts favored by the White House.
I think that chunks of this article collate facts already in corners of the public record, e.g. the 9/11 commission report or previously-ignored and buried Washington Post reports, rather than breaking new ground. [Update: did the Daily Show scoop everyone?] Even so, in putting the pieces together into a narrative, the article paints a new and even more disturbing picture of a deeply dysfunctional administration. These guys shouldn’t be trusted with your dollar, must less your lives, fortunes, or sacred honors.
What a pity we didn’t get this article before the debate on international issues. Still, I suppose it’s fair game for the Vice-Presidential debate.
Yep, this is an old story. Besides the 9/11 report, there was a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report released in July that covered it as well as a report from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace that said the same thing back in January. This story does fill in some additional information. But it doesn’t make it quite as clear that the CIA assessments got more and more firm (and wrong) about Iraq’s WMD programs as they got more and more pressure from the White House to show that Saddam was pursuing nukes. (For example, from the Senate report: “As the Bush Administration prepared for war against Iraq in the fall of 2002, the Intelligence Community judgments on Iraq shifted significantly from many of the corresponding assessments contained in earlier analytical products.”) But don’t worry, Porter Goss is now in charge of the CIA so we won’t have any more politicizing intelligence. (During his first week in the CIA he brought in four Republican staffers and put them in responsible positions).
I would also urge the New York Times to release the sources of their September 8, 2002 article “who insisted that the dimensions, specifications and numbers of tubes sought showed that they were intended for a nuclear weapons program”. In reality, the dimensions were totally wrong, the specifications made them completely unsuitable, and the numbers were far greater than required. When confidential sources use the media to put out false information to promote their agenda, they no longer have the right to remain anonymous and there is certainly no reason to protect a source that you can never use again because they might well be lying.
Please note that the Senate, contrary to what President Bush said in the first debate, did not have access to the same intelligence that the White House had. In fact, Senator Warner and Senator Levin complained as late as April 2003 that they still hadn’t received intelligence reports that the Senate had requested. For the most part, prior to the war they only had access to the NIE that was later called, “seriously flawed” and “a rushed and sloppy product” and “hastily cobbled together using stale, fragmentary, and speculative intelligence reports” and “replete with factual errors and unsupported judgments”.
I’d tell your wife to be careful, professor. Dropping hints about false claims of African uranium tend to be paid back heavily against one’s spouse….look at Joe Wilson.
Thanks for the thought. Good thing she has tenure….