The Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, and a bipartisan majority of the Committee (10-5), today unveiled the final two sections of its Phase II report on prewar intelligence. The first report details Administration prewar statements that, on numerous occasions, misrepresented the intelligence and the threat from Iraq. The second report details inappropriate, sensitive intelligence activities conducted by the DoD’s Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, without the knowledge of the Intelligence Community or the State Department.
Senator Rockefeller said:
“Before taking the country to war, this Administration owed it to the American people to give them a 100 percent accurate picture of the threat we faced. Unfortunately, our Committee has concluded that the Administration made significant claims that were not supported by the intelligence.”
“In making the case for war, the Administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent. As a result, the American people were led to believe that the threat from Iraq was much greater than actually existed.”
“It is my belief that the Bush Administration was fixated on Iraq, and used the 9/11 attacks by al Qa’ida as justification for overthrowing Saddam Hussein. To accomplish this, top Administration officials made repeated statements that falsely linked Iraq and al Qa’ida as a single threat and insinuated that Iraq played a role in 9/11. Sadly, the Bush Administration led the nation into war under false pretenses.
“There is no question we all relied on flawed intelligence. But, there is a fundamental difference between relying on incorrect intelligence and deliberately painting a picture to the American people that you know is not fully accurate.
“These reports represent the final chapter in our oversight of prewar intelligence. They complete the story of mistakes and failures – both by the Intelligence Community and the Administration – in the lead up to the war. Fundamentally, these reports are about transparency and holding our government accountable, and making sure these mistakes never happen again,” Rockefeller added.
The Committee’s report cites several conclusions in which the Administration’s public statements were NOT supported by the intelligence. They include:
- Statements and implications by the President and Secretary of State suggesting that Iraq and al-Qa’ida had a partnership, or that Iraq had provided al-Qa’ida with weapons training, were not substantiated by the intelligence.
- Statements by the President and the Vice President indicating that Saddam Hussein was prepared to give weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups for attacks against the United States were contradicted by available intelligence information.
- Statements by President Bush and Vice President Cheney regarding the postwar situation in Iraq, in terms of the political, security, and economic, did not reflect the concerns and uncertainties expressed in the intelligence products.
- Statements by the President and Vice President prior to the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iraq’s chemical weapons production capability and activities did not reflect the intelligence community’s uncertainties as to whether such production was ongoing.
- The Secretary of Defense’s statement that the Iraqi government operated underground WMD facilities that were not vulnerable to conventional airstrikes because they were underground and deeply buried was not substantiated by available intelligence information.
- The Intelligence Community did not confirm that Muhammad Atta met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in 2001 as the Vice President repeatedly claimed.
Additionally, the Committee issued a report onthe Intelligence Activities Relating to Iraq conducted by the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group and the Office of Special Plans within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy(pdf). The report found that the clandestine meetings between Pentagon officials and Iranians in Rome and Paris were inappropriate and mishandled from beginning to end. Deputy National Security Advisor Steve Hadley and Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz failed to keep the Intelligence Community and the State Department appropriately informed about the meetings. The involvement of Manucher Ghobanifer and Michael Ledeen in the meetings was inappropriate. Potentially important information collected during the meetings was withheld from intelligence agencies by Pentagon officials. Finally, senior Defense Department officials cut short internal investigations of the meetings and failed to implement the recommendations of their own counterintelligence experts.
Today’s reports are the culmination of efforts that began in March 2003, when, as Vice Chairman, Senator Rockefeller initially requested an investigation into the origin of the fraudulent Niger documents. In June 2003, he was joined by all Democrats on the Committee in pushing for a full investigation into prewar intelligence, which was eventually expanded by the Committee in February 2004 to include the five phase II tasks.
The Committee released its first report on July 9, 2004, which focused primarily on the Intelligence Community’s prewar assessments of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs and links to terrorism. Those findings helped lay the foundation for some of the intelligence reforms enacted into law in late 2004.
In September 2006, the Committee completed and publicly released two sections of Phase II: The Use by the Intelligence Community of Information Provided by the Iraqi National Congress; and Postwar Findings About Iraq’s WMD Programs and Links to Terrorism and How They Compare with Prewar Assessments.
In May 2007, the Committee released the third section of Phase II: Prewar Intelligence Assessments About Postwar Iraq.
Separately, in early 2007, the Pentagon Inspector General released its own report on the intelligence activities conducted by the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy and also concluded that those activities were inappropriate.