Senate Democrats

Report Comes Out On “Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Postwar Iraq”

The Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, today unveiled one of the final remaining sections of Phase II: Prewar Intelligence Assessments About Postwar Iraq. The report is available on the Committee’s website and is accompanied by two recently declassified Intelligence Community assessments from January 2003.

The report shows that the Intelligence Community gave the Administration plenty of warning about the difficulties we would face in Iraq (p.6):

The Intelligence Community assessed prior to the war that establishing a stable democratic government in postwar Iraq would be a long, difficult and probably turbulent challenge. In January 2003, the Intelligence Community assessed that building “an Iraqi democracy would be a long, difficult and probably turbulent process, with potential for backsliding into Iraq’s tradition of authoritarianism.” The greatest medium-to-long term challenge in Iraq would be the “introduction of a stable and representative political system.” The Intelligence Community noted that Iraqi political culture did “not foster liberalism or democracy” and was “largely bereft of the social underpinnings that directly support development of broad-based participatory democracy.” Although the idea of free and democratic elections probably would be a popular concept with the vast majority of the Iraqi population, “the practical implementation of democratic rule would be difficult in a country with no concept of loyal opposition and no history of alternation of power.”

It shows how the American invasion would be exploited by al Qai’da (p.7):

The Intelligence Community assessed prior to the war that al Qa’ida probably would see an opportunity to accelerate its operational tempo and increase terrorist attacks during and after a US-Iraq war. In January 2003, the Intelligence Community stated that al-Qa’ida “probably would try to exploit any postwar transition in Iraq by replicating the tactics it has used in Afghanistan during the past year to mount hit-and-run operations against US personnel. According to the Intelligence Community, “some militant Islamists in Iraq might benefit from increases in funding and popular support and could choose to conduct terrorist attacks against US forces in Iraq.” The Intelligence Community assessed that, “If Baghdad were unable to exert control over the Iraqi countryside, al-Qai’da or other terrorist groups could operate from remote areas.” The Intelligence Community assessed that “To the extent that a new Iraqi government effectively controlled its territory, especially in northern Iraq, and was friendlier to US interests and backed by US military power, al-Qa’ida’s freedom of movement inside Iraq almost certainly would be hampered. If al-Qa’ida’ mobilized significant resources to combat a US presence in Iraq, it could, at least in the near term, reduce its overall capability to strike elsewhere.” The Intelligence Community noted that “Use of violence by competing factions in Iraq against each other or the United States – Sunni against Shia; Kurd against Kurd; Kurd against Arab; any against the United states – probably also would encourage terrorist groups to take advantage of a volatile security environment to launch attacks within Iraq.” Additionally, rogue ex-regime elements “could forge an alliance with existing terrorist organizations or act independently to wage guerilla warfare against the new government or Coalition forces.”

And by Iran (p. 9-10):

The Intelligence Community assessed prior to the war that Iraq’s neighbors would jockey for influence in Iraq, with activities ranging from humanitarian reconstruction assistance to fomenting strife among Iraq’s ethnic and sectarian groups. In January 2003, the Intelligence Community assessed that the objective of most Middle Eastern states regarding a post-Saddam Iraq would be for the territorial integrity of Iraq to remain intact and for a new regime to become neither a source of regional instability nor dominant in the region. The Intelligence Community assessed that Iraq’s immediate neighbors would have the greatest stakes in protecting their interests and would be most likely to pose challenges for US goals in post-Saddam Iraq.

The Intelligence Community assessed prior to the war that Iranian leaders would try to influence the shape of post-Saddam Iraq to preserve Iranian security and would demonstrate that Iran is an important regional actor. In January 2003, the Intelligence Community assessed that “the degree to which Iran would pursue policies that either support or undermine U.S. goals in Iraq would depend on how Tehran viewed specific threats to its interests and the potential US reaction.” The Intelligence Community assessed that the “more that Iranian leaders perceived that Washington’s aims did not challenge Tehran’s interests or threaten Iran directly, the better the chance that they would cooperate in the post-war period, or at least not actively undermine US goals.” The Intelligence Community assessed that “some elements in the Iranian government could decide to try to counter aggressively the U.S. presence in Iraq or challenge U.S. goals following the fall of Saddam by attempting to use their contacts in Kurdish and Shia communities to sow dissent against the US presence and complicate the formation of a new, pro-US Iraqi government.” The Intelligence Community noted that elements in the regime also could “employ their own operatives against US personnel, although this approach would be hard to conceal.”

The Intelligence Community assessed that “guaranteeing Iran a role in the negotiations on the fate of post-Saddam Iraq might persuade some Iranian officials to pursue an overt and constructive means to influence reconstruction in Iraq.” When possible, the establishment of “a mechanism for US and Iranian officials to communicate on the ground in Iraq could facilitate dialogue.

The report also shows how the Intelligence Community assessed prior to the war that United State’s defeat and occupation of Iraq would result in “a surge” of “Political Islam” and “increased funding for terrorist groups” (p.9):

The Intelligence Community assessed prior to the war that the United States’ defeat and occupation of Iraq probably would result in a surge of political Islam and increased funding for terrorist groups. In January 2003, the Intelligence Community assessed that a “US-led defeat and occupation of Arab Iraq probably would boost proponents of political Islam” and would result in “calls from Islamists for the people of the region to unite and build up defenses against the West.” Assessments concluded that “funds for terrorist groups probably would increase as a result of Muslim outrage over US action.” The Intelligence Community also underscored that “in some countries an increase in Islamist sentiment also probably would take the form of greater support for Islamic political parties that seek to come to power through legitimate means.”

Again to read the whole report accompanied by two recently declassified Intelligence Community assessments from January 2003 please visit the Committee’s website.

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