The Whole Story: No WMDs in Iraq, No Evidence of Connection to Terrorism

Senate Report: Bush Administration Misled On Intelligence. According to the New York Times, “A long-delayed Senate report endorsed by Democrats and some Republicans has concluded that President Bush and his aides built the public case for war against Iraq by exaggerating available intelligence and by ignoring disagreements among spy agencies about Iraq’s weapons programs and Saddam Hussein’s links to Al Qaeda. The report was released Thursday after years of partisan squabbling, and it marks the close of five years of investigations by the Senate Intelligence Committee into the use, abuse and faulty assessments of intelligence leading up to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. That some Bush administration claims about the Iraqi threat turned out to be false is hardly new. But the report, based on a detailed review of public statements by Mr. Bush and other officials, is the most comprehensive effort to date to assess whether policymakers systematically painted a more dire picture about Iraq than was justified by available intelligence.” [New York Times, 6/5/08]

CIA Analyst To National Security Council Staffer: “Don’t Tell Us [Saddam] Is Connected to 9/11 Or To Terrorism Because There Is No Evidence To Support That.” According to former CIA Director George Tenet’s book, At The Center Of The Storm: My Years At The CIA, “To be sure, a number of people were fixated on Iraq, and a number of decisions and actions during the late fall of 2001 and into early 2002 created a momentum all their own. One of the CIA’s senior Middle East experts recently told me of a meeting he had in the White House a few days after 9/11. A senior NSC official told him that the administration wanted to get rid of Saddam. One analyst said, ‘If you want to go after that son of a bitch to settle old scores, be my guest. But don’t tell us he is connected to 9/11 or to terrorism because there is no evidence to support that. You will have to have a better reason.’” [At The Center Of The Storm: My Years At The CIA, page 307, 2007]

Detainee Tortured In Egypt Gave False Testimony On Link Between Al-Qaeda And Iraq. According to Human Rights Watch, “Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi, whose real name is Ali Mohamed al-Fakheri, was a Libyan taken into custody in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area in late 2001. He was held in secret CIA detention for years and subjected to abusive interrogations on numerous occasions in different locations. During a coercive interrogation by US personnel in Egypt, al-Libi provided false information about Iraq having agreed to provide two al Qaeda operatives with chemical or biological weapons training. Then-US Secretary of State Colin Powell cited this as a key piece of evidence during his historic speech to the United Nations on February 5, 2003, when trying to rally international support for an invasion of Iraq. Al-Libi later recanted these facts, and the CIA itself later deemed them unreliable.” [Human Rights Watch, September 2012]

Defense Intelligence Agency Questioned Veracity Of Al-Libi’s Claim: “It Is More Likely This Individual Is Intentionally Misleading.” According to a declassified defense intelligence terrorist summary from the Defense Intelligence Agency, issued in 2002, “This is the first report from Ibn al-Shaykh in which he claims Iraq assisted al-Qaeda’s CBRN [chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear] efforts. However, he lacks specific details on the Iraqi’s [sic] involved, the CBRN materials associated with the assistance, and the location where training occurred. It is possible he does not know any further details; it is more likely this individual is intentionally misleading the debriefers. Ibn al-Shaykh has been undergoing debriefs for several weeks and may [be] describing scenarios to the debriefers that he knows will retain their interest. Saddam’s regime is intensely secular and is wary of Islamic revolutionary movements. Moreover, Baghdad is unlikely to provide assistance to a group it cannot control.” [Defense Intelligence Agency letter to Senators, 10/26/05]

CIA Had “Scant Evidence” Of Link Between Al-Qaeda And Iraq, Analysts Felt “Pressured To Tailor Reports To Conform To The Administration’s Views.” According to the New York Times, “The C.I.A. also had scant new evidence about links between Iraq and Al Qaeda, but specialists began working on the issue under the direction of Douglas J. Feith, the under secretary of defense for policy. Those analysts did not develop any new intelligence data, but looked at existing intelligence reports for possible links between Iraq and terrorists that they felt might have been overlooked or undervalued. … Several current and former intelligence officials have said analysts at the C.I.A. felt pressure to tailor reports to conform to the administration’s views, particularly the theories Mr. Feith’s group developed.” [New York Times, 7/20/03]

Office Of Special Plans Formed “To Find Evidence Of What” Rumsfeld And Paul Wolfowitz “Believed To Be True.” According to the New Yorker, “According to the Pentagon adviser, Special Plans was created in order to find evidence of what Wolfowitz and his boss, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, believed to be true—that Saddam Hussein had close ties to Al Qaeda, and that Iraq had an enormous arsenal of chemical, biological, and possibly even nuclear weapons that threatened the region and, potentially, the United States.” [The New Yorker, 5/12/03]

Bush Suggested Iraq Sought Uranium From Africa, Despite “High-Level Intelligence Assessment” Calling It “Unlikely.” According to the New York Times, “A high-level intelligence assessment by the Bush administration concluded in early 2002 that the sale of uranium from Niger to Iraq was ‘unlikely’ because of a host of economic, diplomatic and logistical obstacles, according to a secret memo that was recently declassified by the State Department. Among other problems that made such a sale improbable, the assessment by the State Department’s intelligence analysts concluded, was that it would have required Niger to send ‘25 hard-to-conceal 10-ton tractor-trailers’ filled with uranium across 1,000 miles and at least one international border. The analysts’ doubts were registered nearly a year before President Bush, in what became known as the infamous ‘16 words’ in his 2003 State of the Union address, said that Saddam Hussein had sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. The White House later acknowledged that the charge, which played a part in the decision to invade Iraq in the belief that Baghdad was reconstituting its nuclear program, relied on faulty intelligence and should not have been included in the speech.” [New York Times, 1/18/06]

CIA Agent Valerie Plame Wilson’s Identity Was Revealed After Her Husband, Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, Investigated Uranium Claims And Criticized Administration’s Intelligence. According to the New York Times, “In early 2002, the Central Intelligence Agency sent the former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV to Niger to investigate possible attempts to sell uranium to Iraq. The next year, after Mr. Wilson became a vocal critic of the Bush administration’s Iraqi intelligence, the identity of his wife, Valerie [Plame] Wilson, a C.I.A. officer who suggested him for the Niger trip, was made public.” According to the Washington Post, “After he went public in 2003 about the trip, senior Bush administration officials, trying to discredit Wilson’s findings, told reporters that Wilson’s wife, who worked at the CIA, was the one who suggested the Niger mission for her husband. Days later, Plame was named as an ‘agency operative’ by syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak, who has said he did not realize he was, in effect, exposing a covert officer.” [New York Times, 1/18/06; Washington Post, 8/11/05]