Bush Administration’s Lies
About Iraq’s WMD Unraveling
Dissident Voice News Service Compilation
"I'm not reading this. This is bullshit."
-- Colin Powell (The Bush junta's good cop routine, commenting on the quality of the "intelligence" reports on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction before his theater performance at the UN in February.)
1) US News and World Report Truth and consequences: New questions
2) The Guardian Powell's doubts over CIA intelligence on Iraq prompted
4) The Guardian Ministers 'distorted' UN weapons report
5) The Guardian Claire Short: Blair lied to cabinet and made secret
6) Washington Post Bush Remarks Confirm Shift in Justifying War
7) The Independent How Blair used discredited WMD 'evidence'
9) Newsweek Former UK Foreign Sec.: ‘Why Rumsfeld Is Wrong’
10) The Sunday Herald No weapons in Iraq? We'll find them in Iran
11) New York Times Save Our Spooks
13) Financial Times Blix report fuels doubts on weapons of mass destruction
1) Truth and consequences: New questions about U.S. intelligence regarding Iraq's weapons of mass terror
By Bruce B. Auster, Mark Mazzetti and Edward T. Pound
US News and World Report
On the evening of February 1, two dozen American officials gathered in a spacious conference room at the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Va. The time had come to make the public case for war against Iraq. For six hours that Saturday, the men and women of the Bush administration argued about what Secretary of State Colin Powell should--and should not--say at the United Nations Security Council four days later. Not all the secret intelligence about Saddam Hussein's misdeeds, they found, stood up to close scrutiny. At one point during the rehearsal, Powell tossed several pages in the air. "I'm not reading this," he declared. "This is bulls- - -."
Just how good was America's intelligence on Iraq? Seven weeks after the end of the war, no hard evidence has been turned up on the ground to support the charge that Iraq posed an imminent threat to U.S. national security--no chemical weapons in the field, no Scud missiles in the western desert, no biological agents. At least not yet. As a result, questions are being raised about whether the Bush administration overstated the case against Saddam Hussein. History shows that the Iraqi regime used weapons of mass terror against Iraqi Kurds and during the war against Iran in the 1980s. But it now appears that American intelligence on Iraq's weapons programs was sometimes sketchy, occasionally politicized, and frequently the subject of passionate disputes inside the government. Today, the CIA is conducting a review of its prewar intelligence, at the request of the House Intelligence Committee, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has conceded that Iraq may have destroyed its chemical weapons months before the war.
The dossier. The question remains: What did the Bush administration know-- or think it knew--on the eve of war? In the six days before Powell went to the U.N., an intense, closed-door battle raged over the U.S. intelligence dossier that had been compiled on Baghdad's weapons of mass destruction and its links to terrorists. Holed up at the CIA night and day, a team of officials vetted volumes of intelligence purporting to show that Iraq posed a grave threat. Powell, CIA Director George Tenet, and Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, were among those who participated in some sessions. What follows is an account of the struggle to find common ground on a bill of particulars against Saddam. Interviews with more than a dozen officials reveal that many pieces of intelligence--including information the administration had already cited publicly--did not stand up to scrutiny and had to be dropped from the text of Powell's U.N. speech.
Vice President Cheney's office played a major role in the secret debates and pressed for the toughest critique of Saddam's regime, administration officials say. The first draft of Powell's speech was written by Cheney's staff and the National Security Council. Days before the team first gathered at the CIA, a group of officials assembled in the White House Situation Room to hear Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, lay out an indictment of the Iraqi regime--"a Chinese menu" of charges, one participant recalls, that Powell might use in his U.N. speech. Not everyone in the administration was impressed, however. "It was over the top and ran the gamut from al Qaeda to human rights to weapons of mass destruction," says a senior official. "They were unsubstantiated assertions, in my view."
Powell, apparently, agreed. So one week before he was to address the U.N. Security Council, he created a team, which set up shop at the CIA, and directed it to provide him with an intelligence report based on more solid information. "Powell was acutely aware of the need to be completely accurate," says the senior official, "and that our national reputation was on the line."
The team, at first, tried to follow a 45-page White House script, taken from Libby's earlier presentation. But there were too many problems--some assertions, for instance, were not supported by solid or adequate sourcing, several officials say. Indeed, some of the damning information simply could not be proved.
One example, included in the script, focused on intelligence indicating that an Iraqi official had approved the acquisition of sensitive software from an Australian company. The concern was that the software would allow the regime to understand the topography of the United States. That knowledge, coupled with unmanned aerial vehicles, might one day enable Iraq to attack America with biological or chemical weapons. That was the allegation. Tenet had briefed Cheney and others. Cheney, says a senior official, embraced the intelligence.
The White House instructed Powell to include the charge in his presentation. When the Powell team at the CIA examined the matter, however, it became clear that the information was not ironclad. CIA analysts, it turns out, couldn't determine after further review whether the software had, in fact, been delivered to Iraq or whether the Iraqis intended to use it for nefarious purposes. One senior official, briefed on the allegation, says the software wasn't sophisticated enough to pose a threat to the United States. Powell omitted the allegation from his U.N. speech.
It had taken just one day for the team assembled at the CIA to trip over the fault line dividing the Bush administration. For months, the vice president's office and the Pentagon had been more aggressive than either State or the CIA when it came to making the case against Iraq.
Veteran intelligence officers were dismayed. "The policy decisions weren't matching the reports we were reading every day," says an intelligence official. In September 2002, U.S. News has learned, the Defense Intelligence Agency issued a classified assessment of Iraq's chemical weapons. It concluded: "There is no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons . . . ." At about the same time, Rumsfeld told Congress that Saddam's "regime has amassed large, clandestine stockpiles of chemical weapons, including VX, sarin, cyclosarin and mustard gas." Rumsfeld's critics say that the secretary tended to assert things as fact even when intelligence was murky. "What we have here is advocacy, not intelligence work," says Patrick Lang, a former top DIA and CIA analyst on Iraq. "I don't think [administration officials] were lying; I just think they did a poor job. It's not the intelligence community. It's these guys in the Office of the Secretary of Defense who were playing the intelligence community."
Douglas Feith, Rumsfeld's top policy adviser, defended the intelligence analysis used in making the case for war and says it was inevitable that the "least developed" intelligence would be dropped from Powell's speech. "With intelligence, you get a snippet of information here, a glimpse of something there," he said. "It is inherently sketchy in most cases."
In a written statement provided to U.S. News, the CIA's Tenet says: "Our role is to call it like we see it--to tell policymakers what we know, what we don't know, what we think, and what we base it on. . . . The integrity of our process was maintained throughout, and any suggestion to the contrary is simply wrong."
In those first days of February, the disputed material was put under the microscope. The marathon meetings, which included five rehearsals of the Powell presentation, lasted six days. According to a senior official, Powell would read an item. Then he would ask CIA officers there--including Tenet and his deputy, John McLaughlin--for the source of the information. "The secretary of state insisted that every piece of evidence be solid. Some others felt you could put circumstantial evidence in, and what matters is the totality of it," says one participant. "So you had material that ended up on the cutting-room floor."
And plenty was cut. Sometimes it was because information wasn't credible, sometimes because Powell didn't want his speech to get too long, sometimes because Tenet insisted on protecting sources and methods. At the last minute, for instance, the officials agreed to drop an electronic intercept of Iraqis describing the torture of a donkey. On the tape, the men laughed as they described what happened when a drop of a lethal substance touched the animal's skin.
Thin gruel. The back and forth between the team at the CIA and the White House intensified. The script from the White House was whittled down, then discarded. Finally, according to several participants, the National Security Council offered up three more papers: one on Iraq's ties to terrorism, one on weapons of mass destruction, one on human-rights violations. The document on terrorism was 38 pages, double spaced. By the time the team at the CIA was done with it, half a dozen pages remained. Powell was so unimpressed with the information on al Qaeda that he decided to bury it at the end of his speech, according to officials. Even so, NSC officials kept pushing for Powell to include the charge that 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta had met with an Iraqi intelligence official in Prague. He refused.
By Monday night, February 3, the presentation was taking final shape. Powell wanted no doubts that the CIA stood behind the intelligence, so, according to one official, he told Tenet: "George, you're coming with me." On Tuesday, some members of the team decamped to New York, where Powell took a room at the Waldorf-Astoria. Participants ran two full dress rehearsals complete with place cards indicating where other members of the Security Council would be sitting. The next morning, Powell delivered his speech, as scheduled. Tenet was sitting right behind him.
Today, the mystery is what happened to Iraq's terror weapons. "Everyone believed they would find it," says a senior official. "I have never seen intelligence agencies in this government and other governments so united on one subject."
Mirages. Were they right? Powell and Tenet were convinced that chemical agents had been deployed to field units. None have been found. War planners used the intelligence when targeting suspected weapons of mass destruction sites. Yet bomb-damage assessments found that none of the targets contained chemical or biological weapons. "What we don't know at this point," says an Air Force war planner, "is what was bad intelligence, what was bad timing, what was bad luck."
As for the al Qaeda tie, defense officials told U.S. News last week they had learned of a potentially significant link between Saddam's regime and Osama bin Laden's organization. A captured senior member of the Mukhabarat, Iraq's intelligence service, has told interrogators about meetings between Iraqi intelligence officials and top members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, a group that merged with al Qaeda in the 1990s. The prisoner also described $300,000 in Iraqi transfers to the organization to pay for attacks in Egypt. The transfers were said to have been authorized by Saddam Hussein. "It's a single-source report," says one defense official. "But is this the first time anyone has told us something like this? Yeah."
Senior administration of-ficials say they remain convinced that weapons of mass destruction will turn up. The CIA and the Pentagon reported last week that two trucks seized in Iraq were apparently used as mobile biological weapons labs, though no biological agents were found. A senior counterterrorism official says the administration also believes that biological and chemical weapons have been hidden in vast underground complexes. "You can find it out in the open, but if you put this stuff underground or underwater," he says, "there is no signature and it doesn't show up." He added that the Pentagon is using small robots, outfitted with sensors and night-vision equipment, to get into and explore "heavily booby-trapped" underground complexes, some larger than football fields. "People are getting discouraged that they haven't found it," he says. "They are looking for a master source, a person who can say where the stuff is located."
Some 300 sites have been inspected so far; there are an additional 600 to go, and the list is growing, as captured Iraqis provide new leads. But what if those leads turn up nothing? "It would be," says a senior administration official, "a colossal intelligence failure."
2) Powell's doubts over CIA intelligence on Iraq prompted him
to set up secret review: Specialists removed questionable evidence
about weapons from draft of secretary of state's speech to UN
Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington and Richard Norton-Taylor
The Guardian [UK]; June 2, 2003
Fresh evidence emerged last night that Colin Powell, the US secretary of state, was so disturbed about questionable American intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction that he assembled a secret team to review the information he was given before he made a crucial speech to the UN security council on February 5.
Mr Powell conducted a full-dress rehearsal of the speech on the eve of the session at his suite in the Waldorf Astoria, his New York base when he is on UN business, according to the authoritative US News and World Report.
Much of the initial information for Mr Powell's speech to the UN was provided by the Pentagon, where Paul Wolfowitz, the US deputy defence secretary, set up a special unit, the Office of Special Plans, to counter the uncertainty of the CIA's intelligence on Iraq.
Mr Powell's team removed dozens of pages of alleged evidence about Iraq's banned weapons and ties to terrorists from a draft of his speech, US News and World Report says today. At one point, he became so angry at the lack of adequate sourcing to intelligence claims that he declared: "I'm not reading this. This is bullshit," according to the magazine.
Presented with a script for his speech, Mr Powell suspected that Washington hawks were "cherry picking", the US magazine Newsweek also reports today. Greg Theilmann, a recently retired state department intelligence analyst directly involved in assessing the Iraqi threat, says that inside the Bush administration "there is a lot of sorrow and anger at the way intelligence was misused".
The Bush administration, under increased scrutiny for failing to find Saddam Hussein's arsenals eight weeks after occupying Baghdad, yesterday confronted the damaging new allegations on the misuse of intelligence to bolster the case for war.
The gaps in the case against Saddam have become a matter for public debate only within the last few days. They have also become an issue of credibility for the CIA and the Bush administration as it begins to assemble a case against Iran and its nuclear programme.
Yesterday, a senior Bush administration official told reporters travelling with the president to the Evian summit that Washington was not alone in its pursuit of Saddam's arsenal.
"We have to remember that there's a long history of accusation of the weapons of mass destruction programmes in Iraq. A lot of what is unresolved about the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction programme comes from the United Nations, from Unscom, from Unmovic [teams of weapons inspectors] and, of course, from US and other intelligence," the official said.
The official also said that US forces in Iraq had not yet had the time to process the hundreds of documents captured since Saddam's fall, or track down the people with information on his weapons programmes.
On Friday, the CIA director, George Tenet, was forced to issue a statement denying the agency doctored intelligence reports.
"Our role is to call it like we see it, to tell policymakers what we know, what we don't know, what we think, and what we base it on. That's the code we live by," the statement said.
During a series of meetings at CIA headquarters last February, initiated by Mr Powell, the secretary of state was reported to have reviewed the intelligence reports on Saddam, his arsenal of chemical and nuclear weapons, and his possible links with al-Qaida. The ostensible purpose of the exercise, carried out over four days, was to decide which should be included in his address.
However, a common theme of the meetings was the failure of the CIA and other intelligence agencies to produce a convincing case against Saddam. Despite the increasingly belligerent statements from the administration's hawks, the CIA had disturbingly little proof.
Even more damaging, many of the assertions bandied about were based on reports that were speculative or impossible to corroborate - but seized on because they suited the agenda of the hawks in the administration. Ambiguities and nuance were left aside.
One claim from the original dossier that could not be proved involved the supply of sensitive software from Australia that would have allowed Baghdad to gather sensitive information about the topography of the US. However, the CIA could not establish for Mr Powell whether the software had been delivered to Iraq.
Although the issue of flawed CIA intelligence has caused concern about the agency's ability to gather evidence on potential threats to the US, it did not appear to have shaken the widespread belief that the war on Iraq was a just war.
"The day that I saw those nine and 10-year-old boys released from a prison, the day I saw the mass graves uncovered, it was ample testimony of the brutality and repressiveness of this regime," the Republican senator John McCain told ABC television yesterday. "It was the day that I believe our liberation of Iraq was fully vindicated."
The president's changing tune
'The Iraqi regime was required to destroy its weapons of mass destruction, to cease all development of such weapons, and to stop all support for terrorist groups. The Iraqi regime has violated all of those obligations'
October 7 2002
'Year after year, Saddam Hussein has gone to elaborate lengths, spent enormous sums, taken great risks to build and keep weapons of mass destruction'
January 28 2003
'The regime of Saddam Hussein spent years hiding and disguising his weapons... it's going to take time to find them. But we know he had them. And whether he destroyed them, moved them, or hid them, we're going to find out the truth'
April 24 2003
'One thing we know is that he had a weapons programme. We also know he spent years trying to hide the weapons programme. And over time the truth will come out'
May 6 2003
'We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories... And we'll find more. But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong. We found them.'
May 29 2003
3) Straw, Powell had serious doubts over their Iraqi weapons claims
Dan Plesch and Richard Norton-Taylor
The Guardian; May 31, 2003
Jack Straw and his US counterpart, Colin Powell, privately expressed serious doubts about the quality of intelligence on Iraq's banned weapons programme at the very time they were publicly trumpeting it to get UN support for a war on Iraq, the Guardian has learned.
Their deep concerns about the intelligence - and about claims being made by their political bosses, Tony Blair and George Bush - emerged at a private meeting between the two men shortly before a crucial UN security council session on February 5.
The meeting took place at the Waldorf hotel in New York, where they discussed the growing diplomatic crisis. The exchange about the validity of their respective governments' intelligence reports on Iraq lasted less than 10 minutes, according to a diplomatic source who has read a transcript of the conversation.
The foreign secretary reportedly expressed concern that claims being made by Mr Blair and President Bush could not be proved. The problem, explained Mr Straw, was the lack of corroborative evidence to back up the claims.
Much of the intelligence were assumptions and assessments not supported by hard facts or other sources.
Mr Powell shared the concern about intelligence assessments, especially those being presented by the Pentagon's office of special plans set up by the US deputy defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz.
Mr Powell said he had all but "moved in" with US intelligence to prepare his briefings for the UN security council, according to the transcripts.
But he told Mr Straw he had come away from the meetings "apprehensive" about what he called, at best, circumstantial evidence highly tilted in favour of assessments drawn from them, rather than any actual raw intelligence.
Mr Powell told the foreign secretary he hoped the facts, when they came out, would not "explode in their faces".
What are called the "Waldorf transcripts" are being circulated in Nato diplomatic circles. It is not being revealed how the transcripts came to be made; however, they appear to have been leaked by diplomats who supported the war against Iraq even when the evidence about Saddam Hussein's programme of weapons of mass destruction was fuzzy, and who now believe they were lied to.
People circulating the transcripts call themselves "allied sources supportive of US war aims in Iraq at the time".
The transcripts will fuel the controversy in Britain and the US over claims that London and Washington distorted and exaggerated the intelligence assessments about Saddam's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programme.
An unnamed intelligence official told the BBC on Thursday that a key claim in the dossier on Iraq's weapons released by the British government last September - that Iraq could launch a chemical or biological attack within 45 minutes of an order - was inserted on the instructions of officials in 10 Downing Street.
Adam Ingram, the armed forces minister, admitted the claim was made by "a single source; it wasn't corroborated".
Speaking yesterday in Warsaw, the Polish capital, Mr Blair said the evidence of weapons of mass destruction in the dossier was "evidence the truth of which I have absolutely no doubt about at all".
He said he had consulted the heads of the security and intelligence services before emphatically denying that Downing Street had leaned on them to strengthen their assessment of the WMD threat in Iraq. He insisted he had "absolutely no doubt" that proof of banned weapons would eventually be found in Iraq. Whitehall sources make it clear they do not share the prime minister's optimism.
The Waldorf transcripts are all the more damaging given Mr Powell's dramatic 75-minute speech to the UN security council on February 5, when he presented declassified satellite images, and communications intercepts of what were purported to be conversations between Iraqi commanders, and held up a vial that, he said, could contain anthrax.
Evidence, he said, had come from "people who have risked their lives to let the world know what Saddam is really up to".
Some of the intelligence used by Mr Powell was provided by Britain.
The US secretary of state, who was praised by Mr Straw as having made a "most powerful and authoritative case", also drew links between al-Qaida and Iraq - a connection dismissed by British intelligence agencies. His speech did not persuade France, Germany and Russia, who stuck to their previous insistence that the UN weapons inspectors in Iraq should be given more time to do their job.
The Waldorf meeting took place a few days after Downing Street presented Mr Powell with a separate dossier on Iraq's banned weapons which he used to try to strengthen the impact of his UN speech.
A few days later, Downing Street admitted that much of its dossier was lifted from academic sources and included a plagiarised section written by an American PhD student.
Mr Wolfowitz set up the Pentagon's office of special plans to counter what he and his boss, Donald Rumsfeld, considered inadequate - and unwelcome - intelligence from the CIA.
He angered critics of the war this week in a Vanity Fair magazine interview in which he cited "bureaucratic reasons" for the White House focusing on Iraq's alleged arsenal as the reason for the war. In reality, a "huge" reason for the conflict was to enable the US to withdraw its troops from Saudi Arabia, he said.
Earlier in the week, Mr Rumsfeld suggested that Saddam might have destroyed such weapons before the war.
4) Ministers 'distorted' UN weapons report
Nicholas Watt, Richard Norton-Taylor and Michael White in Basra
The Guardian; May 30, 2003
Tony Blair's Iraq crisis deepened last night as ministers were accused of distorting the findings of the chief UN weapons inspector to support Britain's claims about Saddam Hussein's weapons programme.
Amid growing anger among senior intelligence officials about Downing Street's use of their work for political ends, Hans Blix's office rejected claims by ministers that he had provided unequivocal evidence of Iraq's chemical and biological weapons programme.
As the prime minister became the first western leader to visit Iraq since the end of the war, Dr Blix's spokesman said the chief weapons inspector had "never asserted" that Iraq definitely had weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to the conflict.
Ewen Buchanan, who said Dr Blix had merely said there was a "strong presumption" that banned items such as an thrax still existed, was speaking after the armed forces minister, Adam Ingram, declared that the UN had provided "damning" evidence of illegal Iraqi weapons.
Mr Buchanan's remarks will undermine the credibility of Downing Street, which faced severe pressure yesterday over claims that it doctored a dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction to strengthen the case for war. An unnamed intelligence official told the BBC that the key claim in last September's dossier - that Iraq could launch a chemical or biological attack within 45 minutes of an order - had been inserted on the instructions of officials at No 10.
Alastair Campbell, the prime minister's director of communications, who played a key role in drawing up the dossier, said yesterday in Basra that the BBC was "saying we forced the intelligence agencies to put things in the dossier that were untrue. That is wholly untrue; there is nothing in there that was not the work of the intelligence agencies".
As the prime minister insisted once again that banned weapons would be found, Downing Street faced renewed pressure last night when the hawkish deputy US defence secretary appeared to belittle the importance of such weapons.
Paul Wolfowitz told Vanity Fair magazine that the decision to highlight weapons of mass destruction as the main reason for invading Iraq was taken for "bureaucratic" reasons, indicating that Washington did not take the threat seriously.
Amid the furore, British intelligence sources expressed fury at Downing Street's behaviour. They were deeply reluctant to allow Downing Street to use their intelligence assessments because they feared it would be manipulated for political ends.
Widespread unease in the intelligence community about Downing Street's use of their information in the September dossier was compounded by a second report in February containing sections plagiarised by Mr Campbell's staff. John Scarlett, chairman of Whitehall's joint intelligence committee, was reported to be furious at what a senior Whitehall source described yesterday as a "serious error".
Caveats about intelligence supplied by MI6 and GCHQ, the government's eavesdropping centre, were swept aside by Mr Blair, egged on by Mr Campbell, well-placed sources said.
A Whitehall source told the Guardian yesterday: "It may take several months to decide what the Iraqis were doing." He added that something had to be found, if only for political reasons, to support Mr Blair.
Downing Street will also struggle to shrug off the remarks by Dr Blix's office. Ministers, who privately rubbished the chief weapons inspector when he resisted the rush to war, have recently hailed a 173-page report he produced in March to prove that Iraq had a banned weapons programme.
Dr Blix's spokesman, who did not directly criticise any ministers, said the report indicated that there was a "strong presumption" Iraq did not destroy illegal substances such as anthrax. But Mr Buchanan added: "We know they had anthrax. We never asserted that these days they had them."
However, Mr Buchanan made clear that Dr Blix's report raised serious questions about Iraq: "There are hundreds, if not thousands, of unanswered questions."
5) Short: Blair lied to cabinet and made secret war pact with US
Tory threat to break ranks on Iraq
Nicholas Watt and Michael White in Evian
The Guardian; June 2, 2003
Tony Blair is facing mounting pressure from across the House of Commons to hold an independent inquiry into the Iraq war after Clare Short levelled the incendiary allegation at the prime minister that he had lied to the cabinet.
As an increasingly exasperated prime minister once again swept aside calls for a public inquiry into the failure to uncover banned Iraqi weapons, the former international development secretary accused Mr Blair of bypassing the cabinet to agree a "secret" pact with George Bush to go to war.
To compound the prime minister's difficulties - as MPs prepare to return to Westminster tomorrow after the Whitsun recess - Robin Cook demanded an independent inquiry into the "monumental blunder" by the government.
His criticisms were echoed last night by the Tories who said they were giving "very serious consideration" to calls for an inquiry.
Michael Howard, the shadow chancellor, indicated to the BBC last night that the Tories were considering abandoning their bipartisan approach to Iraq because of fears that Downing Street might have "doctored" last year's dossier on Iraq's banned weapons to strengthen the case for war.
The interventions by such senior figures from across the house gave heart to Labour MPs who are planning to ambush the prime minister on Wednesday at his weekly Commons appearance and during a subsequent statement on the G8 summit.
They are demanding an emergency Commons statement after an unnamed intelligence source told the BBC last week that Downing Street had "sexed up" a dossier on Iraq's banned weapons.
Tam Dalyell, the father of the house who has a question to the prime minister on Wednesday's Commons order paper, is expected to step up the pressure by asking about Ms Short's accusation that he was deceitful to the cabinet on three occasions.
In her BBC interview yesterday, she accused Mr Blair of:
* Agreeing in "secret" with Mr Bush at Camp David last September to go to war - and then telling the cabinet that he would try to act as a constraint on the US.
* Misleading the cabinet over Iraq's weapons capability - by "spinning" the claim that Iraq could launch a chemical or biological attack within 45 minutes. "Where the spin came was the suggestion that it was all weaponised, ready to go, immediately dangerous, likely to get into the hands of al-Qaida, and therefore things were very very urgent."
* Falsely telling the cabinet and the world that Jacques Chirac, the French president, would veto a second UN security council resolution authorising war. The transcript of Mr Chirac's interview, which she subsequently read, showed the prime minister's claim to be wrong.
Ms Short, who was widely criticised after she failed to carry out a threat to resign on the eve of war, accused the prime minister of riding roughshod over the conventions of cabinet. "It was all done in Tony Blair's study ... The normal Whitehall systems to make big decisions like this broke down and were very personalised in No 10."
Warning that civil servants and troops were ready to disobey an order to go to war, Ms Short said that the prime minister swung round the Whitehall machinery at the last moment when the attorney general declared that military action would be legal. But she added: "I think, given the attorney's advice, it was legal. But I think the route we got there didn't honour the legality questions."
Some of her criticisms were echoed by the former foreign secretary, Robin Cook, who demanded an independent inquiry into the failure to uncover any weapons of mass destruction, despite the dire warnings from Downing Street.
"It is beginning to look as if the government's committed a monumental blunder," he told The World This Weekend on Radio 4.
"The government should admit it was wrong and they need to set up then a thorough independent inquiry into how they got it wrong so that it never happens again and we never again send British troops into action on the basis of a mistake."
As a growing number of Labour MPs joined the clamour for an emergency statement and a full investigation by the parliamentary intelligence committee, an angry prime minister hit back at his critics.
Speaking en route to Evian, Mr Blair predicted that the next US-UK intelligence dossier on Saddam Hussein's arsenal would make sceptical voters "very well satisfied" that he was right.
Expressing frustration about what he sees as his critics' attempt to refight the war by other means, Mr Blair insisted for the third time in as many days that intelligence reports had not been doctored under political pressure and would be vindicated.
Appealing for voters to be patient, he declared: "I have said throughout that when this is put together, the evidence of the scientists and witnesses, the investigations from the sites, people will be very well satisfied."
The new dossier on which Downing Street pins its hopes will be produced by US intelligence and weapons inspection teams which are now fanning out over Iraq while colleagues work on humanitarian aid and reconstruction.
6) Bush Remarks Confirm Shift in Justifying War
Standard of Proof For Weapons Drops
By Dana Milbank
Washington Post; June 1, 2003; Page A18
In asserting last week that "we found the weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq, President Bush presented a far less expansive estimate of Saddam Hussein's chemical, biological and nuclear capabilities than the one his administration had used for months in justifying the war.
Since last August, Bush and his top lieutenants said it was an absolute certainty that Iraq remained in possession of significant quantities of banned weapons, particularly chemical and biological munitions. But Bush's remarks Thursday, in an interview on Polish television, made clear the administration had lowered its standards of proof. The president asserted that the discovery in Iraq of two trailers, with laboratory equipment but no pathogens aboard, was tantamount to a discovery of weapons.
"We found the weapons of mass destruction," Bush asserted in the Thursday interview, released Friday. "We found biological laboratories. You remember when Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he said, Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons. They're illegal. They're against the United Nations resolutions, and we've so far discovered two. And we'll find more weapons as time goes on. But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong. We found them."
Bush's assertion, one of many recent administration statements shifting focus from Iraq's weapons to Iraq's weapons programs, indicated the president would consider its accusations justified by the discovery of equipment that potentially could be used to produce weapons. But the original charges against Iraq, presented to the United Nations and the American public, were explicitly about the weapons themselves.
On Aug. 26, 2002, Vice President Cheney told the VFW National Convention: "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction." On Sept. 12, 2002, Bush told the U.N. General Assembly: "United Nations inspections also revealed that Iraq likely maintains stockpiles of VX, mustard and other chemical agents, and that the regime is rebuilding and expanding facilities capable of producing chemical weapons."
In Bush's State of the Union address on Jan. 28, he cited evidence that Hussein had enough materials to produce more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin and as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agents. "He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them," Bush said.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, in the same speech to the U.N. on Feb. 5 in which he discussed evidence of the mobile weapons labs Bush referred to last week, argued: "We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction, he's determined to make more." A month later, on March 7, Powell told the United Nations that Hussein has "clearly not" made a decision to "disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction."
Finally, in delivering his March 17 ultimatum to Hussein to go into exile, Bush told the nation: "Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."
Bush's political opponents ridiculed the suggestion Bush made last week that the discovery of two trailers validated the earlier accusations. "Just because they found two mobile labs, to say that's evidence of weapons of mass destruction is absurd," said Kristian Denny, spokeswoman for Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), a presidential candidate.
As the war started in Iraq, the administration continued to say with confidence that weapons would be found. On March 21, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said "there's no question" biological and chemical weapons would be found and asserted that "this was the reason that the president felt so strongly that we needed to take military action."
But when heavy combat in Iraq ended without the discovery of banned arms, administration officials began to emphasize the search for evidence of weapons programs rather than the weapons themselves. In Lima, Ohio, on April 24, Bush raised the possibility that the weapons might not exist any longer. "We know he had them," the president said. "And whether he destroyed them, moved them or hid them, we're going to find out the truth."
In an interview with Vanity Fair magazine on May 9, Paul D. Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, appeared to minimize the importance of the weapons. "The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on, which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason," he said, according to a Pentagon transcript in which he stressed other justifications for the war.
7) Revealed: How Blair used discredited WMD 'evidence'
UK intelligence chiefs warned claim that Iraq could activate banned weapons in 45 minutes came from unreliable defector
By Raymond Whitaker, Paul Lashmar and Andy McSmith
The Independent [UK]; June 1, 2003
Tony Blair's sensational pre-war claim that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction "could be activated within 45 minutes" was based on information from a single Iraqi defector of dubious reliability, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.
British intelligence sources said the defector, recruited by Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress, told his story to American officials. It was passed on to London as part of regular information-sharing with Washington, but British intelligence chiefs considered the "45 minutes" claim to be unreliable and uncorroborated by any other evidence. How it came to be included as the most dramatic element in the Government's "intelligence dossier" last September, making the case for war, is now the subject of a furious row in Whitehall and abroad.
The armed forces minister, Adam Ingram, admitted last week that the information had come from a single source. But Downing Street denied a report that the claim made its way into the dossier only after politicians rejected a more cautious draft prepared by the intelligence services and demanded that it be "sexed up".
Coming in the same week that the United States Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said Iraq might have destroyed its banned weapons before the war, the row has called into question the entire Anglo-American case on WMD. The failure to find such weapons has led to demands in the US and Britain for inquiries into whether the public was misled.
On Wednesday, the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee will meet behind closed doors to examine the Government's WMD claims, but it is not expected to have full access to the intelligence seen by ministers.
Irritated by the latest row about Iraq's missing weapons, which has overshadowed his six-day foreign tour, the Prime Minister has promised to bring out another dossier. Mr Blair said that he had seen some of the information obtained from Iraqi scientists now under interrogation, which proved that Saddam Hussein had an arsenal of dangerous weapons.
In an interview in St Petersburg with Sky News, being broadcast today, he said: "What we are going to do is assemble that evidence and present it properly to people. We are not going to give a running commentary on it. There are hundreds, possibly thousands, of potential WMD sites that are still being investigated. We have only just begun."
The Prime Minister's official spokesman vehemently denied yesterday that there was or had been any conflict between the Government and the intelligence services over Iraq, and claimed that leaks were probably coming from minor officials who did not have great inside knowledge.
President George Bush went further on Polish television, saying two trailers found laden with equipment in northern Iraq were proof of the existence of WMD. US intelligence agencies claim they were biological weapons production facilities. Mr Bush said: "Those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons - they're wrong. We found them."
The Prime Minister insisted that the information in the British dossier "is intelligence that comes through our Joint Intelligence Committee". He said: "It's not invented by politicians and it's not invented by our security service. Everything was cleared by the Joint Intelligence Committee, and was their judgement - not my judgement, or another politician's judgement."
But one intelligence source said: "The '45-minute' remark was part of the American intelligence input into the dossier. It was being treated cautiously by the British, but it was alighted on by the politicos and blown out of proportion." Intelligence circles remain confident that evidence of WMD will soon be found.
Controversy reigns over the work of a special unit within the Pentagon, created by Mr Rumsfeld's deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, which enthusiastically promoted the Iraqi National Congress's WMD claims over the scepticism of others, notably in the CIA. Yesterday The Guardian said the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, met his American counterpart, Colin Powell, in February to discuss their concerns about the quality of information on Iraq's banned weapons, and the claims being made by their respective political masters. The Government said the meeting never took place.
8) Where are Iraq’s WMDs?
The message was plain: Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction made war unavoidable. So where are they? Inside the administration’s civil war over intel
By Evan Thomas, Richard Wolffe and Michael Isikoff
NEWSWEEK ; June 9, 2003 Issue
George Tenet, the director of Central Intelligence, was frustrated. For four days and nights last winter, some of the most astute intelligence analysts in the U.S. government sat around Tenet’s conference-room table in his wood-paneled office in Langley, Va., trying to prove that Saddam Hussein posed an imminent threat to America. The spooks were not having an easy time of it.
ON FEB. 5, Secretary of State Colin Powell was scheduled to go to the United Nations and make the case that Saddam possessed an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. But the evidence was thin—sketchy and speculative, or uncorroborated, or just not credible. Finally, according to a government official who was there, Tenet leaned back in his chair and said, “Everyone thinks we’re Tom Cruise. We’re not. We can’t look into every bedroom and listen to every conversation. Hell, we can’t even listen to the new cell phones some of the terrorists are using.”
Tenet was being truthful. Spying can help win wars (think of the Allies’ cracking the Axis codes in World War II), but intelligence is more often an incomplete puzzle (think of Pearl Harbor). Honest spies appreciate their own limitations. Their political masters, however, often prefer the Hollywood version. They want certainty and omniscience, not hedges and ambiguity. Bush administration officials wanted to be able to say, for certain, that Saddam Hussein possessed stockpiles of chem-bio weapons; that he could make a nuclear bomb inside a year; that he was conspiring with Al Qaeda to attack America.
And that is, by and large, what they did say. On close examination, some of the statements about Saddam and his WMD made by President George W. Bush and his top lieutenants in the months leading up to the Iraq war included qualifiers or nuances. But the effect—and the intent—was to convince most Americans that Saddam presented a clear and present danger and had to be removed by going to war.
No wonder, then, that many people are perplexed (or vexed) that U.S. forces in Iraq have been unable to find any WMD. Administration officials insist that eventually they will be able to prove that Saddam was working on a dangerous weapons program. They say that two trailers found in northern Iraq are in fact mobile bioweapon labs, capable of brewing up enough anthrax in a weekend to snuff out a city. But some of Bush’s top men are beginning to sound a little defensive or unsure, and congressional critics are starting to circle. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz caused a flap by telling Vanity Fair magazine that removing Saddam’s WMD was a “bureaucratic” justification for going to war (Wolfowitz says that he was quoted out of context). A recently retired State Department intelligence analyst directly involved in assessing the Iraqi threat, Greg Thielmann, flatly told NEWSWEEK that inside the government, “there is a lot of sorrow and anger at the way intelligence was misused. You get a strong impression that the administration didn’t think the public would be enthusiastic about the idea of war if you attached all those qualifiers.”
The prospect of a serious inquiry hung uneasily over a small dinner party of top intelligence officials, including Tenet, in Washington last week. The guests “were stressed and grumpy,” reports a former CIA official who was present. “There was a lot of rolling of eyes and groans” about a coming wave of investigations. Tenet tried to reassure his dinner partners that the second-guessing was premature. “We’ll be fine,” he said. In an unusual move, the DCI two days later put out a public statement defending the CIA’s “integrity and objectivity.” The job of the CIA director is, as the former agency official puts it, “to speak truth to power.” The CIA is supposed to be an independent agency that doesn’t blow in the political wind.
It is doubtful that congressional investigators or reporters will turn up evidence that anyone at the CIA or any other intelligence agency flat-out lied or invented evidence. More likely, interviews with some of the main players suggest, the facts will show that the agency was unable to tell the Bush administration what it wanted to hear. Tenet might have tried harder to keep the Bushies from leaping to unwarranted conclusions. In fact, in one case, he aggressively pushed evidence about an Iraqi nuclear program that was strongly challenged by nuclear-weapons experts elsewhere in the government. But the agency’s failure was more elemental: the CIA was unable to penetrate Saddam’s closed world and learn, with any real precision, his real capabilities and intentions.
That is truly disturbing news for the war on terror. If America has entered a new age of pre-emption—when it must strike first because it cannot afford to find out later if terrorists possess nuclear or biological weapons—exact intelligence is critical. How will the United States take out a mad despot or a nuclear bomb hidden in a cave if the CIA can’t say for sure where they are? And how will Bush be able to maintain support at home and abroad? The story of how U.S. intelligence tracked Iraq’s WMD capability, pieced together by NEWSWEEK from interviews with top administration and intelligence officials, is not encouraging.
The case that Saddam possessed WMD was based, in large part, on assumptions, not hard evidence. If Saddam did not possess a forbidden arsenal, the reasoning went, why, then, would he put his country through the agony of becoming an international pariah and ultimately risk his regime? Was he just bluffing in some fundamentally stupid way? Earlier U.N. weapons inspectors projected that Saddam kept stores of anthrax and VX, but they had no proof. In recent years, the CIA detected some signs of Saddam’s moving money around, building additions to suspected WMD sites, and buying chemicals and equipment abroad that could be used to make chem-bio weapons. But the spooks lacked any reliable spies, or HUMINT (human intelligence), inside Iraq.
Then came the defectors. Former Iraqi officials fleeing the regime told of underground bunkers and labs hiding vast stores of chemical and biological weapons and nuclear materials. The CIA, at first, was skeptical. Defectors in search of safe haven sometimes stretch or invent the facts. The true believers in the Bush administration, on the other hand, embraced the defectors and credited their stories. Many of the defectors were sent to the Americans by Ahmed Chalabi, the politically ambitious and controversial Iraqi exile. Chalabi’s chief patron is Richard Perle, the former Reagan Defense Department official and charter member of the so-called neocons, the hard-liners who occupy many top jobs in the Bush national-security establishment.
The CIA was especially wary of Chalabi, whom they regarded as a con man (Chalabi has been convicted of bank fraud in Jordan; he denies the charges). But rather than accept the CIA’s doubts, top officials in the Bush Defense Department set up their own team of intelligence analysts, a small but powerful shop now called the Office of Special Plans—and, half-jokingly, by its members, “the Cabal.”
The Cabal was eager to find a link between Saddam and Al Qaeda, especially proof that Saddam played a role in the 9-11 attacks. The hard-liners at Defense seized on a report that Muhammad Atta, the chief hijacker, met in Prague in early April 2001 with an Iraqi intelligence official. Only one problem with that story, the FBI pointed out. Atta was traveling at the time between Florida and Virginia Beach, Va. (The bureau had his rental car and hotel receipts.)
No matter. The Iraq hawks at Defense and in the office of Vice President Dick Cheney continued to push the idea that Saddam had both stockpiles of WMD and links to terrorists who could deliver those weapons to American cities. Speeches and statements by Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Bush himself repeated these claims throughout the fall of 2002 and the winter of 2003. One persistent theme: that Saddam was intent on building a nuke. On Oct. 7, for instance, Bush predicted in a speech in Cincinnati that Saddam could have “a nuclear weapon in less than a year.”
The evidence sometimes cited to support Saddam’s nuclear program was shaky, however. On the morning after Bush’s State of the Union address in January, Greg Thielmann, who had recently resigned from the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR)—whose duties included tracking Iraq’s WMD program—read the text in the newspaper. Bush had cited British intelligence reports that Saddam was trying to purchase “significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”
Thielmann was floored. “When I saw that, it really blew me away,” Thielmann told NEWSWEEK. Thielmann knew about the source of the allegation. The CIA had come up with some documents purporting to show Saddam had attempted to buy up to 500 tons of uranium oxide from the African country of Niger. INR had concluded that the purchases were implausible—and made that point clear to Powell’s office. As Thielmann read that the president had relied on these documents to report to the nation, he thought, “Not that stupid piece of garbage. My thought was, how did that get into the speech?” It later turned out that the documents were a forgery, and a crude one at that, peddled to the Italians by an entrepreneurial African diplomat. The Niger minister of Foreign Affairs whose name was on the letterhead had been out of office for more than 10 years. The most cursory checks would have exposed the fraud.
The strongest evidence that Saddam was building a nuke was the fact that he was secretly importing aluminum tubes that could be used to help make enriched uranium. At least it seemed that way. In early September, just before Bush was scheduled to speak to the United Nations about the Iraqi threat, the story was leaked to Judith Miller and Michael Gordon of The New York Times, which put it on page one. That same Sunday (Sept. 8), Cheney and national-security adviser Condoleezza Rice went on the talk shows to confirm the story.
At the CIA, Tenet seems to have latched on to the tubes as a kind of smoking gun. He brought one of the tubes to a closed Senate hearing that same month. But from the beginning, other intelligence experts in the government had their doubts. After canvassing experts at the nation’s nuclear labs, the Department of Energy concluded that the tubes were the wrong specification to be used in a centrifuge, the equipment used to enrich uranium. The State Department’s INR concluded that the tubes were meant to be used for a multiple-rocket-launching system. (And Saddam was not secretly buying them; the purchase order was posted on the Internet.) In two reports to Powell, INR concluded there was no reliable evidence that Iraq had restarted a nuclear program at all. “These were not weaselly worded,” said Thielmann. “They were as definitive as these things go.” These dissents were duly recorded in a classified intelligence estimate. But they were largely dropped from the declassified version made available to the public. U.N. inspectors say they have found solid proof that Iraq bought the tubes to build small rockets, not nukes.
The real test of the government’s case against Saddam came in the testimony by Secretary of State Powell delivered to the United Nations on Feb. 5. Powell, the administration’s in-house moderate, was very wary of being set up for a fall by the administration hawks. Presented with a “script” by the White House national-security staff, Powell suspected that the hawks had been “cherry-picking,” looking for any intel that supported their position and ignoring anything to the contrary.
Powell ordered his aides to check out every fact. And to make sure he would not be left hanging if the intel case against Saddam somehow proved to be full of holes, he gently but firmly informed Tenet that the DCI should come up to New York—and take his place behind the secretary of State at the U.N. General Assembly. (“I don’t think George looked too comfortable sitting there,” said a former top official, chuckling, in 41’s administration.)
For four days and nights, Powell and Tenet, top aides and top analysts and, from time to time, Rice, pored over the evidence—and discarded much of it. Out went suggestions linking Saddam to 9-11. The bogus Niger documents were dumped. Powell did keep a hedged endorsement of the aluminum tubes and contended that Saddam “harbored” Al Qaeda operatives. His most compelling offering to the United Nations was tape recordings (picked up by spy satellites) of Iraqi officials who appeared intent on hiding something from the U.N. arms inspectors. Just what they were hiding was never quite clear.
The almost round-the-clock vetting process in Tenet’s conference room at the CIA was tense and difficult, according to several participants. The debate over whether to include the purported links between Al Qaeda and Saddam went on right up to the eve of Powell’s speech.
Powell’s presentation did not persuade the U.N. Security Council, but it did help convince many Americans that Saddam was a real threat. As the military began to gear up for an invasion, top planners at Central Command tried to get a fix from the CIA on WMD sites they could take out with bombs and missiles. After much badgering, says an informed military source, the CIA allowed the CENTCOM planners to see what the agency had on WMD sites. “It was crap,” said a CENTCOM planner. The sites were “mostly old friends,” buildings bombed by the military back in the 1991 gulf war, another source said. The CIA had satellite photos of the buildings. “What was inside the structures was another matter,” says the source. “We asked, ‘Well, what agents are in these buildings? Because we need to know.’ And the answer was, ‘We don’t know’,” the CENTCOM planner recalled.
When the military visited these sites after the war, they found nothing but rubble. No traces of WMD. Nor did Special Forces find any of the 20 or so Scud missiles, possibly tipped with chem-bio warheads, that were said by the CIA to be lurking somewhere in the Western Desert. The search is not over. While CENTCOM is pulling out its initial teams of WMD hunters, the Pentagon has created a whole new program to search sites, looking for the elusive WMD. It is disheartening that the military was unable to secure Saddam’s large nuclear-material storage site at Al Tuwaitha before the looters got there. Materials for a “dirty bomb” could have found their way by now into the hands of terrorists.
And so the searching—and guessing—goes on. So do the bureaucratic wars: last week one of the founders in the Cabal had his security clearance pulled—by enemies in the intelligence community, his associates suspected. The CIA has done a reasonably good job of tracking down Al Qaeda chieftains, capturing about half of them so far. Despite some reports of low morale (mostly from retired analysts), the agency is well funded and well aware of its central role in the war on terror. The spooks for the most part know the imprecise nature of their business. It would be healthier if politicians and policymakers did, too. A little realism would be a good thing, especially in an age of sneak attacks by both sides, when the margin for error is just about zero.
9) ‘Why Rumsfeld Is Wrong’
Former British foreign secretary Robin Cook discusses his resignation over the Iraq war—and why it’s unlikely that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction
By William Underhill
NEWSWEEK WEB EXCLUSIVE; May 30, 2003
May 30 — On the eve of the Iraq war, Robin Cook shook British politics by quitting the government in protest of the planned invasion. In his powerful resignation speech, the foreign secretary urged respect for multilateral agreements and insisted that the dangers posed by the regime of Saddam Hussein had been overstated. Cook, who served in Tony Blair’s cabinet as leader of Parliament’s House of Commons, claimed in particular that Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction “in the commonly understood sense.” His supporters now say that the Coalition’s failure to find such weapons has vindicated his stand. Cook, who is still has his seat in Parliament, spoke this week to NEWSWEEK’s William Underhill in London.
NEWSWEEK: COALITION FORCES only overthrew Saddam Hussein a few weeks ago. There must be a chance that weapons of mass destruction will still be uncovered?
Robin Cook: These are things that are not easy to conceal. For a nuclear bomb you need a nuclear reactor. For a missile you need a large factory. You won’t find them round in someone’s back garden. And all these synthetic claims about Iraq being a big country are irrelevant. If Saddam had the capacity to hit us with weapons of mass destruction, we would have found it. I did say it was quite probable that he had laboratory stocks of biological toxins and chemical shells that might be used on the battlefield, but it’s an awful long time after the end of the war [and] we haven’t found any of them, either. One other point is frequently overlooked. Chemical and biological weapons have a limited shelf life. All the materials that Saddam had in 1991 (at the end of the gulf war) would have degraded to the point of being useless long before 2003, whether or not he had destroyed them.
Isn’t it possible that Saddam Hussein ordered their destruction, as U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has suggested?
No. I don’t think it’s even remotely possible. I just cannot follow the Rumsfeld logic; that watching CNN and seeing the American build-up Saddam said to his generals, “It’s obvious that the U.S. is going to invade; we had better destroy our biggest weapons, so that when I am toppled there might be some very difficult questions for Donald Rumsfeld to answer.”
So was the public deliberately misled over the weapons’ existence?
These are charged terms. I think it’s much wiser to keep the spotlight on the issues, and leave questions for the government to answer rather than end up [with] personalized headlines that I would then have to defend. The focus should be on how the government can square what it said at the time of the build-up to [war with] Iraq with what they have discovered—or failed to discover—in the aftermath. It is a real issue, which they are not entitled to brush under the carpet. We were sold the menace of the weapons of mass destruction as the reason for the war. And the [British] attorney general based his legal justification for war on the necessity to disarm Saddam Hussein. If those weapons didn’t exist then the justification falls away.
Are you saying that the Blair government itself never believed in the existence of these weapons of mass destruction?
I never saw any [cabinet] briefing or other evidence that suggested that there was an urgent or compelling threat from Saddam Hussein. I am not going to comment on the motivation or sincerity of others, but I am rather puzzled that people who went to the same briefings as me and saw the same material could come to such radically different conclusions. To be fair to the United States administration, it never made any bones about the reasons why it went to war. It wanted to carry out a change of regime in Iraq. And many of the proponents of were lobbying for it long before September 11.
And that’s also why the British government went to war?
No, but they were madly keen to prove that they were reliable allies of President Bush—and there were those around President Bush who were determined to have a war.
There are those in Washington who now appear to see the weapons issue as irrelevant.
It was their decision to put this at the heart of their case. It cannot be a side issue after the war when they made it a central issue before the war.
Recent weeks have produced still more evidence to demonstrate the brutality of Saddam Hussein’s rule. Has that altered your position in any way?
I was never in any doubt about the brutality of the Saddam Hussein’s regime, but neither government [the United States or Britain] ever based its case for invasion on brutality—because that’s simply no basis in international law for going to war just to change a regime. If we do decide that we are going to go to war to remove brutal regimes then we have a very busy time in front of us. We are not proposing to intervene to relieve the people of Zimbabwe of the repressive rule of President [Robert] Mugabe. We are not proposing to intervene in Burma where the military junta has run the country for longer than Saddam Hussein. We have allowed more people to be killed in the Congo civil war than were ever killed inside Iraq. If you are going to decide that brutality is a reason for military intervention, it must be a decision that is [made] multilaterally by an international forum. You cannot have individual nations such as the U.K. or the U.S. deciding for themselves which ones they are going to pick on next. One important reason is that if you accept that principle that countries can invade countries where you disapprove of the regime, the next time it may not be the U.S. or the U.K. that acts on that principle.
How much damage has this affair done to Prime Minister Tony Blair?
There is an issue of credibility not just for the prime minister, but for the government more generally. It is going to have to bite the bullet and admit there are no weapons of mass destruction that could have posed a credible threat to Britain and probably were none at the time. The longer they continue to pretend that one day they are going to turn the corner and find a nuclear reactor the more improbable it becomes.
10) No weapons in Iraq? We'll find them in Iran
Iraq: They told us Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, but they've found none. Were they lying?
By Neil Mackay
The Sunday Herald [Scotland]; June 1, 2003
THE spooks are on the offensive. In their eyes, it still remains to be seen whether Tony Blair lied to the British public by claiming that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), but as the Prime Minister's own intelligence officers now say, Parliament was misled and subjected to spin, exaggeration and bare-faced flim-flammery.
It is now seven weeks since the war in Iraq ground to a confused, stuttering halt and still not one WMD has been found. A couple of possible mobile bio-weapons labs have been located, but a close examination showed they hadn't seen so much as a speck of anthrax or nerve gas. Blair and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw made clear before the invasion that the UK was entering the war to disarm Saddam. We were specifically told this was not a battle about regime change, but a battle to 'eradicate the threat of weapons of mass destruction'.
Ironically, it was the ultra-hawkish US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld who let the cat out of the bag when he said on Wednesday: 'It is possible Iraqi leaders decided they would destroy (WMDs) prior to the conflict.' If that was true then Saddam had fulfilled the criteria of UN resolution 1441 and there was absolutely no legal right for the US and UK to go to war. Rumsfeld's claim that Iraq might have destroyed its weapons makes a mockery of the way the US treated the UN's chief weapons inspector Dr Hans Blix. The US effectively told him he wasn't up to the job and the Iraqis had fooled him .
To add to Blair's woes, Paul Wolfowitz, US deputy defence secretary and the man credited with being the architect of the Iraqi war, told American magazine Vanity Fair last week that the Bush administration only focused on alleged WMDs because it was a politically convenient means of justifying the removal of Saddam. 'For bureaucratic reasons we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction,' the leading neo-conservative hawk said, 'because it was the one reason everyone could agree on'.
Then to cap it all, a secret transcript of a discussion between US Secretary of State Colin Powell and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw came to light on Friday showing that, even while they were telling the world that Saddam was armed and dangerous, the pair were worried that the claims about Iraq's WMD programme couldn't be proved. Powell reportedly told Straw he hoped that when the facts came out they wouldn't 'explode in their faces'.
So how on earth did the British people come to believe Saddam was sitting in one of his palaces with an itchy trigger finger poised above a button marked 'WMD'? And if there were no WMDs, then why did we fight the war? The answer lies with Rumsfeld.
With September 11 as his ideological backdrop, Rumsfeld decided in autumn 2001 to establish a new intelligence agency, independent of the CIA and the Pentagon, called the Office of Special Plans (OSP). He put his deputy, Wolfowitz, in charge. The pair were dissatisfied with the failure of the CIA among others to provide firm proof of both Saddam's alleged WMD arsenal and links to al-Qaeda.
Regime change in Iraq had been a long-term goal of Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz. Even before Bush took over the presidency in September 2000 the pair were planning 'regime change' in Iraq. As founders of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), one of the USA's most extreme neo-con think-tanks, the pair were behind what has been described as the 'blueprint' for US global domination -- a document called Rebuilding America's Defences.
Other founders of the PNAC include: Vice-President Dick Cheney; Bush's younger brother Jeb; and Lewis Libby, Cheney's chief of staff. The Rebuilding America's Defences document stated: 'The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.'
The PNAC document supports a 'blueprint for maintaining global US pre-eminence, precluding the rise of a great-power rival and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests'.
It also calls for America to 'fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theatre wars' and describes US armed forces as 'the calvary on the new American frontier'. The UN is sidelined as well, with the PNAC saying that peace-keeping missions demand
'American political leadership rather than that of the United Nations'.
That was the policy blueprint, but to deliver it Rumsfeld turned to the Office of Special Plans. Put simply, the OSP was told to come up with the evidence of WMD to give credence to US military intervention.
But what do conventional intelligence experts make of the OSP? Colonel Patrick Lang is a former chief of human intelligence for the Pentagon's Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) in the 1990s. He was also the DIA's chief of Middle East intelligence and was regularly in Iraq. He said of the OSP : 'This office had a great deal of influence in a number of places in Washington in a way that seemed to me to be excessive and rather ill-advised.
'The regular organisations of the intelligence community have very rigorous rules for how you evaluate information and resources, and tend to take a conservative view of analytic positions because they're going to dictate government decisions.
'That wasn't satisfactory in Secretary Rumsfeld's Pentagon so he set up a separate office to review this data, and the people in this office, although they're described as intelligence people, are by and large congressional staffers. They seemed to me not to have deceived intentionally but to have seen in the data what they believe is true. I think it's a very risky thing to do.'
Most of the OSP intelligence was based on debriefings with Iraqi exiles -- a tactic, says Lang, which is highly questionable as the exiles have clear, personal agendas that might taint their claims. But even if the US was using selective intelligence to justify war against Iraq, does that mean that Tony Blair was also being briefed with OSP intelligence ? According to Melvin Goodman, veteran CIA analyst and current professor of national security at the National War College in Washington, the answer is an unequivocal 'yes'. Goodman says that there is 'no question' that Blair was 'brought along at the highest level' by Bush and Rumsfeld, adding that the Prime Minister was 'vulnerable because of his own evangelical bent' over bringing democracy to the Middle East.
That US view has been corroborated by British intelligence sources who have confirmed to the Sunday Herald that the UK government was being influenced by the selective intelligence emanating from the OSP. Senior UK intelligence sources representing a range of views from across all the spying services said: 'There was absolute scepticism among British intelligence over the invasion of Iraq. The intelligence we were working on was basically of a technical nature coming from satellite surveillance and eavesdropping. The only real Humint (human intelligence from agents) that we had was from Iraqi exiles and we were sceptical of their motives.'
It was this 'tainted' information which was used to compile the crucial dossier on Iraq which Blair presented to MPs last September. The most sensational part of the dossier claimed that Iraq could deploy chemical and biological weapons within 45 minutes -- a claim based on one single Iraqi defector. A British intelligence source said: 'The information had been lying around for ages. The problem was we didn't really trust the defectors as they were working in their own self-interest and really doing their master's bidding -- by that I mean us, the UK. They also had one eye to the future and their role in any new Iraqi government.'
The British intelligence source said the best Humint on Saddam was held by the French who had agents in Iraq.
'French intelligence was telling us that there was effectively no real evidence of a WMD programme. That's why France wanted a longer extension on the weapons inspections. The French, the Germans and the Russians all knew there were no weapons there -- and so did Blair and Bush as that's what the French told them directly. Blair ignored what the French told us and instead listened to the Americans.'
Another source -- an official involved in preparing the Iraqi dossier for Blair -- told the BBC: 'Most people in intelligence weren't happy with [the dossier] as it didn't reflect the considered view they were putting forward.' Other sources said they accepted there was a 'small WMD programme' in Iraq, but not one that would either threaten the West or even Saddam's neighbours. Another said they were 'very unhappy' with the dossier, others said they were 'pissed off' and one described the claim that WMDs could be ready in 45 minutes as 'complete and utter bollocks'.
The Sunday Herald was told: 'The spooks were being asked to write this stuff. The dossier had been lying around for about six months. When it came time for publication Downing Street said it wasn't exciting or convincing enough. The message was that it didn't cut the mustard in terms of PR as there wasn't much more in it than a discerning newspaper reader would know.
'The intelligence services were asked if there was anything else that could be added into it. Intelligence told Downing Street that the 45-minute claim hadn't been added in as it only came from one source who was thought to be wrong.
'The intelligence services were asked to go back and do a rewrite even though Downing Street was told the 45 minute claim was unconvincing.'
Another intelligence source was quoted as telling the BBC that they had been asked to rewrite the dossier as well to make it 'sexier'. The intelligence source said the dossier had been 'transformed' a week before publication. Blair has rejected each and every one of these claims as 'completely absurd'.
In a further curious twist, an intelligence source claimed the real 'over-arching strategic reason' for the war was the road map to peace, designed to settle the running sore of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The source said: 'I believe that Britain and America see the road map as fundamental. They were being told by Ariel Sharon's government that Israel would not play ball until Saddam was out of the picture. That was the condition. So he had to go.'
Meanwhile, the blame game is now well and truly under way and someone is going to end up carrying the can. Jane Harman, the senior Democrat on the House Select Committee on Intelligence, said: 'This could conceivably be the greatest intelligence hoax of all time ... It was the moral justification for war. I think the world is owed an accounting.'
CIA director George Tenet has just over a month to get his act together before the House and Senate Intelligence committees start hearings into the nature of intelligence and the Iraq war. Like Downing Street, the Pentagon strongly denies it manipulated information.
Here in the UK, more than 70 MPs have signed an early day motion calling on the government to justify its case for war by publishing the intelligence on which it was based. Labour rebels are threatening to report Blair to the Speaker of the Commons for the cardinal sin of misleading Parliament. This would force Blair to answer emergency questions in the Commons.
The government, however, has hit back by starting to spin against its own intelligence agencies -- a potentially deadly tactic. One senior minister was quoted as saying anonymously: 'If we don't find weapons of mass destruction, it will be Britain's biggest ever intelligence failure. We would have to look at the whole set up of how we gather intelligence in the future. It would have serious consequences.'
Peter Kilfoyle, the former defence minister who is organising the backbench protests, said: 'The only cogent reason that was offered for the war was weapons of mass destruction, which the government said could be utilised within 45 minutes. It seems to me that, at the very least, evidence was used selectively from intelligence reports to fit the case.' He added that failure to prove the case for war was built on solid ground would 'shatter trust' in the government. 'Tony Blair, Jack Straw and Geoff Hoon are all barristers,' Kilfoyle said. 'They know very well a case based on this sort of information would be laughed out of court.'
Five steps to the world according to Bush
The ultra-hawkish neo-conservative think-tank, the Project for the New American Century, was set up in 1997 by the likes of Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Jeb Bush (George W's brother) and Paul Wolfowitz. Its over-arching aim is the establishment of a 'global Pax Americana' -- a re-ordered world squarely under the control of the USA. To achieve this grand strategic goal, the PNAC says these steps must be achieved:
As the world has seen, nearly all of these aims have been achieved.
2. The Office of Special Plans
This new intelligence agency was set up in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks by US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Frustrated by the failure of conventional spying organisations such as the CIA to come up with proof that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and was linked to Osama bin Laden, the OSP cherry-picked intelligence from mountains of raw data to build the intelligence picture its political masters required.
3. Bush and Blair
With Bush fully briefed by Rumsfeld using intelligence from the OSP, the US was convinced it had a case to prosecute a war against Iraq. But could America take its allies with it? Blair was briefed at length by Bush and other leading members of the US administration using OSP information. The British intelligence services were not coming up with the same sort of information that the OSP were collating. Nevertheless, Blair threw his lot in with Bush, banking on the OSP intelligence.
4. Troops and conflict
With Afghanistan under US control after the first major battle in the seemingly endless war on terror, Bush and Blair were able to topple Saddam using the OSP intelligence to take the public with them. With Iraq occupied, the hawks have turned their attentions to Iran, with claims that the 'Mullahcracy', in the words of the neo-conservatives, had a weapons of mass destruction programme and was tied to al-Qaeda. Sound familiar?
5. Pax Americana
This is the ultimate aim of the neo-conservatives now running the United States. America stands as the world's policeman, the US has no powerful rivals and global capitalism flourishes: the PNAC's project is complete.
By Nicholas F. Kristof
The New York Times, May 30, 2003
On Day 71 of the Hunt for Iraqi W.M.D., yesterday, once again nothing turned up.
Maybe we'll do better on Day 72. But we might have better luck searching for something just as alarming: the growing evidence that the administration grossly manipulated intelligence about those weapons of mass destruction in the runup to the Iraq war.
A column earlier this month on this issue drew a torrent of covert communications from indignant spooks who say that administration officials leaned on them to exaggerate the Iraqi threat and deceive the public.
"The American people were manipulated," bluntly declares one person from the Defense Intelligence Agency who says he was privy to all the intelligence there on Iraq. These people are coming forward because they are fiercely proud of the deepest ethic in the intelligence world — that such work should be nonpolitical — and are disgusted at efforts to turn them into propagandists.
"The Al Qaeda connection and nuclear weapons issue were the only two ways that you could link Iraq to an imminent security threat to the U.S.," notes Greg Thielmann, who retired in September after 25 years in the State Department, the last four in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. "And the administration was grossly distorting the intelligence on both things."
The outrage among the intelligence professionals is so widespread that they have formed a group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, that wrote to President Bush this month to protest what it called "a policy and intelligence fiasco of monumental proportions."
"While there have been occasions in the past when intelligence has been deliberately warped for political purposes," the letter said, "never before has such warping been used in such a systematic way to mislead our elected representatives into voting to authorize launching a war."
Ray McGovern, a retired C.I.A. analyst who briefed President Bush's father in the White House in the 1980's, said that people in the agency were now "totally demoralized." He says, and others back him up, that the Pentagon took dubious accounts from émigrés close to Ahmad Chalabi and gave these tales credibility they did not deserve.
Intelligence analysts often speak of "humint" for human intelligence (spies) and "sigint" for signals intelligence (wiretaps). They refer contemptuously to recent work as "rumint," or rumor intelligence.
"I've never heard this level of alarm before," said Larry Johnson, who used to work in the C.I.A. and State Department. "It is a misuse and abuse of intelligence. The president was being misled. He was ill served by the folks who are supposed to protect him on this. Whether this was witting or unwitting, I don't know, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt."
Some say that top Pentagon officials cast about for the most sensational nuggets about Iraq and used them to bludgeon Colin Powell and seduce President Bush. The director of central intelligence, George Tenet, has been generally liked and respected within the agency ranks, but in the last year, particularly in the intelligence directorate, people say that he has kowtowed to Donald Rumsfeld and compromised the integrity of his own organization.
"We never felt that there was any leadership in the C.I.A. to qualify or put into context the information available," one veteran said. "Rather there was a tendency to feed the most alarming tidbits to the president. Often it's the most ill-considered information that goes to the president.
"So instead of giving the president the most considered, carefully examined information available, basically you give him the garbage. And then in a few days when it's clear that maybe it wasn't right, well then, you feed him some more hot garbage."
The C.I.A. is now examining its own record, and that's welcome. But the atmosphere within the intelligence community is so poisonous, and the stakes are so high — for the credibility of America's word and the soundness of information on which we base American foreign policy — that an outside examination is essential.
Congress must provide greater oversight, and President Bush should invite Brent Scowcroft, the head of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and a man trusted by all sides, to lead an inquiry and, in a public report, suggest steps to restore integrity to America's intelligence agencies.
12) Cabinet's secret war briefings
Revelation intensifies calls for inquiry
by Patrick Wintour and Michael White in Evian
The Guardian; June 3, 2003
The security services carried out a series of secret meetings with members of the cabinet shortly before the outbreak of war against Iraq in order to convince wavering ministers of the severity of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.
The confidential briefings, conducted in February, came at a time of mounting public hostility towards the war and were said to have played a crucial role in persuading ministers of the need for military action.
Cabinet members were taken in groups of five or six over a period of four days, and were given personal briefings by senior figures in the foreign intelligence service, the SIS.
The revelation that the security services were directly used to brief cabinet ministers indicates the extent of Tony Blair's fears of opposition to his Iraq policy even at the heart of his government. It is thought some cabinet members requested the personal briefings as they wrestled with their consciences.
One minister dismissed the suggestion that the intelligence services "lobbied" in favour of war on behalf of Downing Street, but added: "For busy cabinet members, it is flattering and impressive to get oral briefings direct from SIS."
The briefings provided additional intelligence following the publication of the Iraq dossier on weapons of mass destruction in September.
The previously undisclosed level of intelligence service briefing of the cabinet will intensify the calls for a public inquiry into their assessment that Saddam possessed WMD. The absence of any compelling evidence of WMD is creating a crisis of trust around Mr Blair's grounds for the war.
Pressure mounted yesterday when the former foreign secretary Robin Cook called for a public inquiry along the lines of the Scott inquiry into breaches of arms-to-Iraq guidelines in the mid-90s. "The scale of the issues requires the inquiry should have full access to papers, rights of interview and wherever possible should meet in public," he said. He said it should be conducted by a legal figure from outside the political arena.
"We were told by the prime minister that the whole purpose of this war was disarmament. That looks rather difficult to sustain when we have not yet found a single weapon of mass destruction to disarm. There is a problem in that what they said before the war has turned out to be wrong. I am not suggesting any bad faith or any deception. They ought to be at least as interested as we are in why they were wrong."
He pointed out that the attorney general's legal justification for war was based on the existence of WMD in Iraq. "If he did not have those weapons, then that legal base disappears," he said.
He said that in the more open political culture of the US, two separate congressional inquiries were already under way into the role of the intelligence services in Iraq. The US Democrats are making similar allegations that the Bush administration hyped the certainty of such weapons.
Mr Blair faces the prospect of further trouble tomorrow when the committee responsible for overseeing the intelligence services, chaired by former cabinet minister Ann Taylor, is due to meet to discuss whether it can stage an inquiry into the grave allegations that security service evidence was hyped by politicians and Downing Street's communications unit.
The committee meets in private and reports to the prime minister. It is due to publish its annual report shortly, but needs Downing Street's co-operation to conduct a specific inquiry into Iraqi intelligence, especially if it is to gain access to top secret briefing material.
In Evian for the G8 summit, Mr Blair angrily denied claims that he had tricked the public into going to war, saying he stood 100% by the evidence he presented to the public on WMD. He again rejected calls for a public inquiry.
He said: "Frankly, the idea that we doctored intelligence reports in order to invent some notion about a 45-minute capability for delivering weapons of mass destruction is completely and totally false." Every single piece of evidence had been properly endorsed by the intelligence committee, he said.
He also, unusually, rebuffed former cabinet minister Clare Short by name, deriding her claim that he had secretly made a pact with President Bush in September to go to war whilst pretending to the cabinet he was seeking to rein in the US president. He said the assertion was "completely and totally untrue".
Mr Blair again said he was confident WMD would be found.
13) Blix report fuels doubts on weapons of mass destruction
By James Politi in Washington, James Blitz in Evian and Mark Turner The Financial Times [London]; June 2, 2003
US and British leaders were on Monday scrambling to explain why they had so far failed to find evidence of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction as United Nations weapons inspectors reported that Baghdad was handing over fresh information just hours before the US-led air strikes that began the war.
At the G8 summit in Evian, Tony Blair, the UK prime minister, was forced to deflect suggestions by a former cabinet minister that he had decided last September to go to war with Iraq, whether or not United Nations support was forthcoming.
"The idea . . . that I made some secret agreement with George Bush last September that we would invade Iraq in any event at a particular time is completely and totally untrue," he said.
Colin Powell, US secretary of state, said "it wasn't a figment of anyone's imagination" that Iraq possessed WMD. "There was no doubt in my mind as I went through the intelligence that the evidence was overwhelming," Mr Powell said in Rome, before heading to the Middle East.
But both the US Congress and the UK parliament appear determined to hold their leaders to account on the issue.
The Senate Intelligence Committee is likely to hold a public hearing this month to examine the administration's use of intelligence. And leading members of Mr Blair's Labour party are calling on the prime minister to explain himself to parliament.
The new report by Hans Blix, chief UN weapons inspector, revealed that Baghdad supplied information on its illicit weapons programmes up to the eve of military hostilities. But, even at the end, Iraq failed to alleviate fundamental suspicions that it had something to hide.
Unmovic, the UN inspection commission, has continued to analyse data in spite of its sidelining from the weapons hunt. In its latest quarterly report, it said Iraq proffered information on unmanned aircraft and its claimed destruction of anthrax as late as 19 March, hours before the first air strikes.
But while "inspections, declarations and documents submitted by Iraq contributed to a better understanding of past weapons programmes, the long list of proscribed items unaccounted for was (not) shortened", the report says.
The report says new data on the Al Hakam dump site, where Iraq claimed to have disposed of anthrax, indicated traces of biological material "consistent with Iraqi declarations". But the analysis did not "provide a quantification of the anthrax dumped in 1991 with the necessary degree of certainty" and "does not resolve the question regarding the total quantity of anthrax produced and destroyed by Iraq".
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