“Bush Lied, People Died” is a modern mantra among the Democrats and Liberal independents in the US. It has become an article of faith among the Left that the United States’ campaign in Iraq was based on a tissue of lies by Pres. George W. Bush and Vice Pres. Dick Cheney.
On June 5, 2008, Sen. John Rockefeller’s Intelligence Committee Report was released by a 10:5 majority of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI). This majority did not include the Vice Chairman, Sen. Kit Bond. The purpose of this report was to substantiate those claims of falsehood.
Before taking the country to war, this Administration owed it to the American people to give them a 100 percent accurate picture of the threat we faced. Unfortunately, our Committee has concluded that the Administration made significant claims that were not supported by the intelligence.
In making the case for war, the administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when it was unsubstantiated, contradicted or even nonexistent
— Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.)
Chairman, Select Committee on Intelligence
Sen. John Rockefeller and his cronies – along with the rest of the Democrats – claim that the report achieved its purpose of proving that the Administration on numerous occasions, misrepresented the intelligence and the threat from Iraq. Sadly for them even their partisan report failed to prove their case.
Conclusions Of The Report:
Conclusion 1: Statements by the President, Vice President, Secretary of State and the National Security Advisor regarding a possible Iraqi nuclear weapons program were generally substantiated by intelligence community estimates, but did not convey the substantial disagreements that existed in the intelligence community.
The Administration’s statements were supported by the published intelligence community’s estimates of the time. The Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR)’s dissent was not published in any document published outside its own agency prior to publication of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE). Additionally, the Department of Energy’s dissent on the intended use of the aforementioned aluminum tubes was irrelevant; the DOE agreed that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program.
Conclusion 2: Statements in the major speeches analyzed, as well additional statements, regarding Iraq’s possession of biological agent, weapons, production capability, and use of mobile biological laboratories were substantiated by intelligence information.
Conclusion 3: Statements in the major speeches analyzed, as well additional statements, regarding Iraq’s possession of chemical weapons were substantiated by intelligence information.
Conclusion 4: Statements by the President and Vice President prior to the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iraq’s chemical weapons production capability and activities did not reflect the intelligence community’s uncertainties as to whether such production was ongoing.
Despite Rockefeller’s claims to the contrary, the statements by senior policymakers regarding Iraq’s chemical weapons production capability and activities were all substantiated by the intelligence information available to them at that time.
The CIA and the INR both published reports in 2001 declaring their belief that Saddam Hussein was producing chemical weapons. In 2002 George J. Tenet, Director of the CIA, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) that the Iraq had a stockpile of at least 100 tons of chemical agents and had a covert chemical weapons production capability embedded in its civilian industry.
Conclusion 5: Statements by the President, Vice President, Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense regarding Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction were generally substantiated by intelligence information, though many statements made regarding ongoing production prior to late 2002 reflected a higher level of certainty than the intelligence judgments themselves.
As with Rockefeller’s 4th conclusion, the report’s 5th conclusion is unsubstantiated and for similar reasons. The intelligence community was fairly certain that Iraq had and was expanding its stockpile weapons of mass destructions (WMD).
Additionally, I must interject that the SSCI’s decision to assess comparative levels of certainty between policymakers’ statements the intelligence community’s reports and testimonies is an exercise in sophistry that serves no interest beyond partisanship.
Conclusion 6: The Secretary of Defense’s statement that the Iraqi government operated underground WMD facilities that were not vulnerable to conventional airstrikes because they were underground and deeply buried was not substantiated by available intelligence information.
This particular conclusion went beyond sophistry and into the realms of willful misinterpretation or falsehood. See the actual statement below:
“We simply do not know where all or even a large portion of Iraq’s WMD facilities are. We do know where a fraction of them are… Of the facilities we do know, not all are vulnerable to attack from the air. A good many are underground and deeply buried. Others are purposely located near population centers – schools, hospitals, mosques – where an airstrike could kill a large number of innocent people. The Iraq problem cannot be solved by air strikes alone.”
— Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
Testimony before SASC, September 19, 2002
Ref: Intelligence Committee Report, page 46
I fail to see how anyone can honestly and accurately start with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s statement and end up with Rockefeller’s conclusion.
Conclusion 7: Statements in the major speeches and additional statements analyzed regarding Iraqi ballistic missiles were generally substantiated by available intelligence.
Conclusion 8: Statements by the President, Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State that Iraq was developing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that could be used to deliver chemical or biological weapons were generally substantiated by intelligence information, but did not convey the substantial disagreements or evolving views that existed in the intelligence community.
The caveats attached to this conclusion was disingenuous at best. There was no published dissent to the position that Iraq was developing UAVs that could be used to deliver chemical or biological weapons (CBWs). The Air Force, Army and Defense Intelligence Agency concurred that the UAVs could be so modified, but did state that they were unconvinced that Iraq had as yet made those modifications.
Conclusion 9: The President’s suggestion that the Iraqi government was considering using UAVs to attack the United States was substantiated by intelligence judgments available at the time, but these judgments were revised a few months later, in January 2003.
The fact that these judgements were later changed is irrelevant. The purported scope of the SSCI’s Intelligence Report was to determine whether or not statements were substantiated by the intelligence the Administration had when they made those statements, not intelligence that arose later.
Conclusion 10: Statements in the major speeches analyzed, as well additional statements, regarding Iraq’s support for terrorist groups other than al-Qa’ida were substantiated by intelligence information.
Conclusion 11: Statements that Iraq provided safe haven for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and other al-Qa’ida-related terrorist members were substantiated by the intelligence assessments.
Conclusion 12: Statements and implications by the President and Secretary of State suggesting that Iraq and al-Qa’ida had a partnership, or that Iraq had provided al-Qa’ida with weapons training, were not substantiated by the intelligence.
A classic Straw Man argument – the statements by Pres. Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell never claimed that Iraq and al-Qa’ida had formed any sort of partnership. Assertions were made by the Administration that Iraq was providing weapons and CBW training to al-Qa’ida. Those assertions were fully supported by the intelligence available at that time.
Conclusion 13: Statements in the major speeches analyzed, as well additional statements, regarding Iraq’s contacts with al-Qa’ida were substantiated by intelligence information. However, policymakers’ statements did not accurately convey the intelligence assessments of the nature of these contacts, and left the impression that the contacts led to substantive Iraqi cooperation or support of al-Qa’ida.
This is more of the same Straw Man argument started with Conclusion 12 above. Comments by the Administration cited throughout this section of the SSCI’s Intelligence Report nearly exactly matched what the intelligence community said about contacts. None of the policymakers’ statements cited in the report implied that the contacts led to any Iraqi support of al-Qa’ida other than the safehaven, training, reciprocal non-aggression, which was well documented in numerous intelligence assessments.
Conclusion 14: The Intelligence Community did not confirm that Muhammad Atta met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in 2001.
Ah sophistry, the well-used and always eager tool of those with an axe to grind, how do we love thee. It is true that the US Intelligence Community did not confirm that Muhammad Atta met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in 2001; it was confirmed by a foreign intelligence service.
At the time that the Vice President Cheney commented that Atta had met with Iraqi intelligence in Prague a CIA assessment said “The Czech Government last week publicly confirmed that suspected hijacker Muhammad Atta met with former Iraqi station chief Ahrnad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani in Prague before al-Ani’s expulsion from the Czech Republic last April. Al-Ani and Atta met during 8-9 April in Prague, according to a foreign government service.”
Conclusion 15: Statements by the President and the Vice President indicating that Saddam Hussein was prepared to give weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups for attacks against the United States were contradicted by available intelligence information.
Frankly, this conclusion and the whole section (Pages 73-83, Intent) of the Intelligence Report its represents is worthless. Firstly, none of the cited statements and comments by the President and Vice President actually say that Saddam Hussein was prepared to give WMDs to terrorists. Secondly, the intelligence community had low confidence in its own judgments of Saddam’s intent.
In the absence of clear intelligence on Saddam’s intent, it behooved the Administration to consider what Saddam could do. Saddam Hussein had the means, motive and opportunity to supply WMDs to various terrorist groups, some of whom would gladly target the US.
Conclusion 16: Statements by President Bush and Vice President Cheney regarding the postwar situation in Iraq, in terms of the political, security, and economic, did not reflect the concerns and uncertainties expressed in the intelligence products.
This was just a ridiculous section in its entirety. Why and how would anyone apply intelligence assessments to the completely subjective statements President Bush and Vice President Cheney.
My Analysis Of The Report
Many of the conclusions of the report are easily refutable using nothing but the information provided within the report itself. It’s sad when what should have been an important document is turned into Political Theater
The report presented a 2/3 majority view of the situation but did not convey the substantial disagreements that existed within the SSCI. It’s ironic that Rockefeller and party are guilty of exactly what they repeatedly accused the Administration of perpetrating.
The Republican Members of the Committee submitted approximately 100 statements for review. In the final report, only those statements submitted by the Democrats were reviewed. In point of fact, the Republican minority claims it was allowed no vote or input into the final report.
Policymakers (the Republican Administration) were refused the opportunity to be heard by the Democrat led SCCI before the report was published. This was a direct departure from previous SCCI procedures – previous procedures that the The Vice Chairman, Rockefeller insisted upon during the last Congress (the 109th Congress).
Sen. Rockefeller’s report was a horribly flawed example of partisan politics. It bore little resemblance to earlier SSCI reports. I’m afraid the SSCI, once a bastion of bipartisan oversight, is now fallen into disrepute.