The Lies that Led to War

The Lies that Led to War

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What a surprise.  They  lied!!!
Colin Powell at the UN demonstrating why Iraq had WMD
March 19, 2015 | 5:10
pm
Thirteen
years ago, the intelligence community concluded in a 93-page classified
document used to justify the invasion of Iraq that it lacked “specific
information”
on “many key aspects” of Iraqi
President Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs.
But
that’s not what top Bush administration officials said during
their campaign to sell the war to the American public. Those
officials, citing the same classified document, asserted with no uncertainty
that Iraq was actively pursuing nuclear weapons, concealing a
vast chemical and biological weapons arsenal, and posing an immediate and
grave threat to US national security. 
Congress eventually concluded that the Bush administration had
overstated” its dire warnings about the Iraqi threat, and that the
administration’s claims about Iraq’s WMD program were “not supported
by the underlying intelligence reporting.”
But that
underlying intelligence reporting — contained in the so-called
National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that was used to justify the invasion
— has remained shrouded in mystery until now.
The
CIA released a copy of the NIE in 2004 in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
request
, but redacted virtually all of it, citing a threat to
national security. Then last year, John Greenewald, who operates The
Black Vault
, a clearing house for declassified government
documents, asked the CIA to take another look at the October 2002 NIE to
determine whether any additional portions of it could be declassified.
The
agency responded to Greenawald this past January and provided him with a new
version of the NIE, which he shared exclusively with VICE News, that
restores the majority of the prewar Iraq intelligence that has eluded
historians, journalists, and war critics for more than a decade. (Some
previously redacted portions of the NIE had previously been disclosed in
congressional reports.)
‘The fact that the NIE concluded that there was
no operational tie between Saddam and al Qaeda did not offset this alarming assessment.’
For
the first time, the public can now read the hastily drafted CIA document [pdf
below] that led Congress to pass a joint resolution authorizing the use of
military force in Iraq, a costly war launched March 20, 2003 that was
predicated on “disarming” Iraq of its (non-existent) WMD,
overthrowing Saddam Hussein, and “freeing” the Iraqi people.
report issued by the
government funded think-tank RAND Corporation last December titled
“Blinders, Blunders and Wars” said the NIE “contained several
qualifiers that were dropped…. As the draft NIE went up the intelligence chain
of command, the conclusions were treated increasingly definitively.”
An
example of that: According to the newly declassified NIE, the intelligence
community concluded that Iraq “probably has renovated a [vaccine]
production plant”
to manufacture biological weapons “but we are
unable to determine whether [biological weapons] agent research has
resumed.” The NIE also said Hussein did not have “sufficient
material”
to manufacture any nuclear weapons and “the
information we have on Iraqi nuclear personnel does not appear consistent with
a coherent effort to reconstitute a nuclear weapons program.”
But
in an October 7, 2002 speech in Cincinnati, Ohio,
then-President George W. Bush simply said Iraq, “possesses and
produces chemical and biological weapons” and “the evidence indicates
that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program.”
One
of the most significant parts of the NIE revealed for the first time is
the section pertaining to Iraq’s alleged links to al Qaeda. In September 2002,
then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld claimed the US had “bulletproof” evidence
linking Hussein’s regime to the terrorist group.
“We
do have solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of al Qaeda members, including
some that have been in Baghdad,”
Rumsfeld said. “We have what we
consider to be very reliable reporting of senior-level contacts going back a
decade, and of possible chemical- and biological-agent training.”

But
the NIE said its information about a working relationship between al Qaeda and
Iraq was based on “sources of varying reliability” —
like Iraqi defectors — and it was not at all clear that Hussein had even
been aware of a relationship, if in fact there were one.
“As
with much of the information on the overall relationship, details on training
and support are second-hand,”
the NIE said. “The presence of
al-Qa’ida militants in Iraq poses many questions. We do not know to what extent
Baghdad may be actively complicit in this use of its territory for safehaven
and transit.”

The
declassified NIE provides details about the sources of some of the suspect
intelligence concerning allegations Iraq trained al Qaeda operatives on chemical
and biological weapons deployment — sources like War on Terror detainees
who were rendered to secret CIA black site prisons, and others who were turned
over to foreign intelligence services and tortured. Congress’s later
investigation into prewar Iraq intelligence concluded that the intelligence
community based its claims about Iraq’s chemical and biological training
provided to al Qaeda on a single source.
“Detainee
Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi — who had significant responsibility for training — has
told us that Iraq provided unspecified chemical or biological weapons training
for two al-Qai’ida members beginning in December 2000,”
the NIE says.
He has claimed, however, that Iraq never sent any chemical, biological,
or nuclear substances — or any trainers — to al-Qa’ida in
Afghanistan.”

Al-Libi
was the emir of the Khaldan training camp in Afghanistan, which the Taliban
closed prior to 9/11 because al-Libi refused to turn over control to Osama bin
Laden.
Last
December, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a declassified summary
of its so-called Torture Report on the CIA’s
“enhanced interrogation” program. A footnote stated
that al-Libi, a Libyan national, “reported while in [redacted]
custody that Iraq was supporting al-Qa’ida and providing assistance with
chemical and biological weapons.”
“Some
of this information was cited by Secretary [of State Colin] Powell in his
speech to the United Nations, and was used as a justification for the 2003
invasion of Iraq,”
the Senate torture report said. 
“Ibn Shaykh
al-Libi recanted the claim after he was rendered to CIA custody on February
[redacted] 2003, claiming that he had been tortured by the [redacted], and only
told them what he assessed they wanted to hear.”

Al-Libi
reportedly committed suicide in a
Libyan prison in 2009, about a month after human rights investigators met with
him.
The
NIE goes on to say that “none of the [redacted] al-Qa’ida members captured
during [the Afghanistan war] report having been trained in Iraq or by Iraqi
trainers elsewhere, but given al-Qa’ida’s interest over the years in training
and expertise from outside sources, we cannot discount reports of such training
entirely.”

All
told, this is the most damning language in the NIE about Hussein’s
links to al Qaeda: While the Iraqi president “has not endorsed
al-Qa’ida’s overall agenda and has been suspicious of Islamist movements in
general, apparently he has not been averse to some contacts with the
organization.”
The
NIE suggests that the CIA had sources within the media to substantiate details
about meetings between al Qaeda and top Iraqi government officials held during
the 1990s and 2002 — but some were not very reliable. “Several dozen
additional direct or indirect meetings are attested to by less reliable
clandestine and press sources over the same period,”
the NIE says.
The
RAND report noted, “The fact that the NIE concluded that there was no
operational tie between Saddam and al Qaeda did not offset this alarming
assessment.”

The
NIE also restores another previously unknown piece of “intelligence”:
a suggestion that Iraq was possibly behind the letters laced with anthrax sent
to news organizations and senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy a week after
the 9/11 attacks. The attacks killed five people and sickened 17 others.
“We
have no intelligence information linking Iraq to the fall 2001 attacks in the
United States, but Iraq has the capability to produce spores of Bacillus
anthracis — the causative agent of anthrax — similar to
the dry spores used in the letters,”
the NIE said. “The spores
found in the Daschle and Leahy letters are highly purified, probably requiring
a high level of skill and expertise in working with bacterial spores. Iraqi
scientists could have such expertise,”
although samples of a biological
agent Iraq was known to have used as an anthrax simulant “were not as
pure as the anthrax spores in the letters.”

Paul
Pillar, a former veteran CIA analyst for the Middle East who was in charge
of coordinating the intelligence community’s assessments on Iraq, told
VICE news that “the NIE’s bio weapons claims” was based on unreliable
sources such as Ahmad Chalabi, the former head of the Iraqi National Congress,
an opposition group supported by the US.
“There
was an insufficient critical skepticism about some of the source
material,”
he now says about the unredacted NIE. “I think there
should have been agnosticism expressed in the main judgments. It
would have been a better paper if it were more carefully drafted in that sort
of direction.”

But
Pillar, now a visiting professor at Georgetown University, added that
the Bush administration had already made the decision to go to war in Iraq, so
the NIE “didn’t influence [their] decision.” Pillar added that
he was told by congressional aides that only a half-dozen senators and a few
House members read past the NIE’s five-page summary.
David
Kay, a former Iraq weapons inspector who also headed the Iraq Survey
Group, told Frontline
that the intelligence community did a “poor job” on the NIE,
probably the worst of the modern NIE’s, partly explained by the pressure,
but more importantly explained by the lack of information they had. And it was
trying to drive towards a policy conclusion where the information just simply
didn’t support it.”

The
most controversial part of the NIE, which has been picked apart hundreds of
times over the past decade and has been thoroughly debunked, pertained to a
section about Iraq’s attempts to acquire aluminum tubes. The Bush administration
claimed that this was evidence that Iraq was pursuing a nuclear weapon.
National
Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice stated at the time on CNN that the tubes
are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge
programs,”
and that “we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom
cloud.”

The
version of the NIE released in 2004 redacted the aluminum tubes section in its
entirety. But the newly declassified assessment unredacts a majority of it and
shows that the intelligence community was unsure why “Saddam is
personally interested in the procurement of aluminum tubes.” 
The
US Department of Energy concluded that the dimensions of the aluminum
tubes were “consistent with applications to rocket motors” and “this
is the more likely end use.”
The State Department’s Bureau of
Intelligence and Research also disagreed with the intelligence community’s
assertions that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear weapons program.
The
CIA’s 25-page unclassified summary
of the NIE released in 2002 did not contain the State or Energy
Departments’ dissent.
“Apart
from being influenced by policymakers’ desires, there were several other
reasons that the NIE was flawed,”
the RAND study concluded. “Evidence
on mobile biological labs, uranium ore purchases from Niger, and
unmanned-aerial-vehicle delivery systems for WMDs all proved to be false. It
was produced in a hurry. Human intelligence was scarce and unreliable. While
many pieces of evidence were questionable, the magnitude of the questionable
evidence had the effect of making the NIE more convincing and ominous. The
basic case that Saddam had WMDs seemed more plausible to analysts than the
alternative case that he had destroyed them. And analysts knew that Saddam had
a history of deception, so evidence against Saddam’s possession of WMDs was
often seen as deception.”

According
to the latest figures compiled by Iraq Body Count, to date more than
200,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed, although other sources say the
casualties are twice as high. More than 4,000 US soldiers have been killed in
Iraq, and tens of thousands more have been injured and maimed. The war
has cost US taxpayers more
than $800 billion.
In
an interview with VICE founder Shane Smith, Obama
said the rise of the Islamic State was a direct result of the disastrous
invasion.
“ISIL
is a direct outgrowth of al Qaeda in Iraq that grew out of our
invasion,”
Obama said. “Which is an example of unintended
consequences. Which is why we should generally aim before we shoot.”

 

 

 

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