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Predictions
Pre-war planning
Prague Connection
Al Zarqawi allegation
Spying on the UN
Motives
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Internal opposition
Alleged WMDs
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Politicization of intelligence
Aluminum tubes allegation
Weapons inspections
Africa-uranium allegation
Office of Special Plans
Pre-9/11 plans for war

Quotes from senior US officials

Iraq ties to terrorist allegations
Nuclear weapons allegations
Imminent threat allegations
Chemical and biological weapons allegations
WMD allegations
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Complete timeline of the 2003 Invasion of Iraq: Alleged ties between Iraq and al-Qaeda

 
  

Project: Inquiry into the decision to invade Iraq

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Late December 1998

       According to US intelligence sources, Farouk Hijazi, the Iraqi ambassador to Turkey, visits Afghanistan in late 1998 after US cruise missiles are fired on al Qaeda training camps following the bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Hijazi, who is also a longtime intelligence officer, meets Osama bin Laden in Kandahar and extends an offer from Baghdad to provide refuge for him and Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar. Bin Laden reportedly rejects the offer because he doesn't want his organization dominated by Saddam Hussein. After the 9/11 attacks, proponents of invading Iraq will claim the visit makes Hijazi a key link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Hijazi will be captured by US troops in late April 2003 after the US/British invasion of Iraq begins. When interrogated by US authorities, he will deny any Iraq-al-Qaeda ties. [Guardian, 2/16/99; Associated Press, 9/27/01; Knight Ridder, 10/7/02; Associated Press, 4/25/03; USA Today, 7/13/03]
People and organizations involved: Farouk Hijaz, Mullah Mohammed Omar, Osama bin Laden
          

2001-2003

       The US intelligence community—most notably the intelligence gatherers working in the Pentagon offices under Douglas Feith (see September 2002) —bases several of its intelligence assessments concerning Iraq on information offered by the Iraqi National Congress (INC) and by Iraqi defectors provided by the INC, despite warnings from the State Department and some CIA analysts that the lobbying group cannot be trusted. [Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; Guardian, 7/17/03; Salon, 7/16/03; New Yorker, 5/5/03; Independent, 9/30/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Greg Thielmann, Unnamed administration official] Some of the INC's intelligence on Iraq's alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and Saddam's supposed ties to terrorists are reportedly funneled directly to the office of Vice President Dick Cheney by Francis Brooke, the DC lobbyist for the group. [Newsweek, 12/15/03 Sources: Memo, Francis Brooke] Brooke will later acknowedge that the information provided by the INC was driven by an agenda. “I told them [the INC], as their campaign manager, ‘Go get me a terrorist and some WMD, because that's what the Bush administration is interested in.’ ” [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 230] Brooke had previously worked for the Rendon Group, “a shadowy CIA-connected public-relations firm.” [Mother Jones, 1/04]
People and organizations involved: Dick Cheney, Francis Brooke, Douglas Feith, Frank Gaffney  Additional Info 
          

April 2001

       During a National Security Council deputy principals meeting, Paul Wolfowitz is challenged by White House counterterrorism advisor Richard Clarke after asserting that Iraq is involved in terrorism. Recalling the meeting, Clarke tells The Guardian in a March 2004 interview: “April was an initial discussion of terrorism policy writ large and at that meeting I said we had to talk about al-Qaeda. And because it was terrorism policy writ large [Paul] Wolfowitz said we have to talk about Iraqi terrorism and I said that's interesting because there hasn't been any Iraqi terrorism against the United States. There hasn't been any for 8 years. And he said something derisive about how I shouldn't believe the CIA and FBI, that they've been wrong. And I said if you know more than I know tell me what it is, because I've been doing this for 8 years and I don't know about any Iraqi-sponsored terrorism against the US since 1993. When I said let's start talking about bin Laden, he said bin Laden couldn't possibly have attacked the World Trade Center in '93. One little terrorist group like that couldn't possibly have staged that operation. It must have been Iraq.” [The Guardian, 3/23/04]
People and organizations involved: Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Clarke
          

April 8, 2001

       An informant for the BIS, the Czech intelligence agency, reportedly sees Iraqi diplomat Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani meeting in a restaurant outside Prague with an Arab man in his 20s. This draws concern from the intelligence community because the informant suggests the person is “a visiting ‘student’ from Hamburg—and ... potentially dangerous.” [Slate, 11/19/2003 Sources: Jan Kavan] The young man is never positively identified or seen again. Fearing that al-Ani may have been attempting to recruit the young man for a mission to blow-up Radio Free Europe headquarters, the diplomat is told to leave the country on April 18. [Slate, 11/19/2003; New York Times, 10/27/01; UPI, 10/21/02 Sources: Jan Kavan, Unnamed US officials] Information about the incident is passed on to US intelligence. After the 9/11 attacks and after it is reported on the news that Atta had likely visited Prague, the BIS informant will say the young man at the restaurant was Atta. (see September 14, 2001) This information leads hawks to come up with the so-called “Prague Connection” theory, which will hold that 9/11 plotter Mohammed Atta flew to Prague on April 8, met with al-Ani to discuss the planning and financing of the 9/11 attacks, and returned to the US on either April 9 or 10. [Slate, 11/19/2003; New York Times, 10/27/01; UPI, 10/21/02 Sources: Jan Kavan, Unnamed US officials, Unnamed BIS informant] The theory will be widely discounted by October 2002. [New York Times, 10/21/02 Sources: Unnamed BIS informant, Unnamed US officials]
People and organizations involved: Mohammed Atta, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, Jabir Salim, Radio Free Europe
          

April 30, 2001

       The US State Department's 2000 annual report states in its section on state-sponsored terrorism that the Ba'ath regime's “terrorist” activities consist primarily of its use of violence to silence dissident exiles. The report also notes that Iraq has not engaged in terrorism against the West “since its failed plot to assassinate former President Bush in 1993 in Kuwait.” Significantly the report does not tie Iraq to international Islamic terrorist groups like al-Qaeda. [US Department of State, 4/30/2001; Newsday, 12/24/01 Sources: US Department of State, 4/30/2001]
          

Soon after September 11, 2001

       Soon after September 11, a concerted effort begins to pin the blame for the attacks on Saddam Hussein. Retired General Wesley Clark will later say on NBC's “Meet the Press” in June 2003 and in a letter published by the New York Times that “immediately after 9/11” there was a “concerted effort ... to pin 9/11 and the terrorism problem on Saddam Hussein” and use the attacks as an excuse to go after the Iraqi dictator. When asked by NBC's Tim Russert, who was behind the concerted effort, Clark will respond: “Well, it came from the White House, it came from people around the White House. It came from all over.” Clark also says, “I got a call on 9/11. I was on CNN, and I got a call at my home saying, ‘You got to say this is connected. This is state-sponsored terrorism. This has to be connected to Saddam Hussein.’ I said, ‘But—I'm willing to say it, but what's your evidence?’ And I never got any evidence.” He says the phone call came from a Middle Eastern think tank outside of the country. [MSNBC, 6/15/03; New York Times, 7/18/03]
People and organizations involved: Wesley Clark
          

Shortly after September 11, 2001

       According to White House counterterrorism advisor, Richard Clarke, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, asks during a meeting, “Why we are [sic] beginning by talking about this one man, bin Laden?” Clarke responds with an explaination that only al-Qaeda “poses an immediate and serious threat to the United States.” Wolfowitz then claims that Iraqi terrorism poses “at least as much” a danger. According to Clarke, FBI and CIA representatives who are present at the meeting agree that there is no evidence to support Wolfowitz's assertion. [Washington Post, 3/22/2004 Sources: Richard Clarke]
People and organizations involved: Richard Clarke, Paul Wolfowitz
          

Shortly after September 11, 2001

       Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith and Middle East specialist Harold Rhode recruit David Wurmser, the director of Middle East studies for the American Enterprise Institute, to serve as a Pentagon consultant. Wurmser is a known advocate of regime change in Iraq, having expressed his views in a 1997 op-ed piece published in the Wall Street Journal (see November 12, 1997) and having participated in the drafting of a 1996 policy paper for Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu called “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm” (see July 8, 1996). Wurmser works at Feith's office, where he and another neocon, F. Michael Maloof, a former aide to Richard Perle, head a secret intelligence unit, named the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group, or the “Wurmser-Maloof” project. The four- to five-person unit, a “B Team” commissioned by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, uses powerful computers and software to scan and sort already-analyzed documents and reports from the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and other agencies in an effort to consider possible interpretations and angles of analysis that these agencies may have missed due to deeply ingrained biases and out-of-date worldviews. [Washington Times, 1/14/02; Mother Jones, 1/04; New York Times, 10/24/02; Los Angeles Times, 2/8/04; Reuters, 2/19/04] The Pentagon unit's activities cause tension within the traditional intelligence community. Critics claim that its members manipulate and distort intelligence, “cherry-picking” bits of information that fit their preconceived conclusions. “There is a complete breakdown in the relationship between the Defense Department and the intelligence community, to include its own Defense Intelligence Agency,” a defense official will tell the New York Times. “Wolfowitz and company disbelieve any analysis that doesn't support their own preconceived conclusions. The CIA is enemy territory, as far are they're concerned.” [New York Times, 10/24/02 Sources: Unnamed defense official] Defending the project, Paul Wolfowitz will tell the New York Times that the team's purpose is to circumvent the problem “in intelligence work, that people who are pursuing a certain hypothesis will see certain facts that others won't, and not see other facts that others will.” He insists that the special Pentagon unit is “not making independent intelligence assessments.” [New York Times, 10/24/02] One of the cell's projects includes sorting through existing intelligence to create a map of relationships demonstrating links between terrorist groups and state powers. This chart of links, which they name the “matrix,” leads the intelligence unit to conclude that Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and other groups with conflicting ideologies and objectives are allowing these differences to fall to the wayside as they discover their shared hatred of the US. The group's research also leads them to believe that al-Qaeda has a presence in such places as Latin American. For weeks, the unit will attempt to uncover evidence tying Saddam Hussein to the 9/11 attacks, a theory advocated by both Feith and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. [Washington Times, 1/14/02; Mother Jones, 1/04; Los Angeles Times, 2/8/04] David Wurmser will later be relocated to the State Department where he will be the senior advisor to Undersecretary Of State for Arms Control John Bolton.(see September 2002). [Mother Jones, 1/04; American Conservative, 12/1/03]
People and organizations involved: Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Harold Rhode, Donald Rumsfeld, David Wurmser, Douglas Feith, F. Michael Maloof
          

September 14, 2001

       The CIA intelligence liaison in Prague is told by the Czech intelligence agency (BIS) that one of its informants believes the Hamburg “student” he had seen meeting with Iraqi diplomat Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani on April 8, 2001 in a restaurant outside of Prague was 9/11 plotter Mohamed Atta. (see April 8, 2001) FBI agents head for the Czech Republic and are given full access to Czech intelligence material. This information leads hawks to come up with the so-called “Prague Connection” theory, which holds that 9/11 plotter Mohammed Atta flew to Prague on April 8, met with al-Ani to discuss the planning and financing of the 9/11 attacks, and returned to the US on either April 9 or 10. The theory will be widely discounted by October 2002. [Slate, 11/19/2003; New York Times, 10/21/02 Sources: Jan Kavan]
People and organizations involved: Mohammed Atta, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani
          

After October 2001

       Rohan Gunaratna, a research fellow at the Center for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, begins researching for his book, Inside al-Qaeda: Global Network of Terror. He examines several tens of thousands of documents acquired from al-Qaeda and Taliban sources. During the course of his investigation, he finds no evidence of an Iraqi-al-Qaeda link. In an op-ed piece printed in the International Herald Tribune on February 19, 2003, he writes: “In addition to listening to 240 tapes taken from al-Qaeda's central registry, I debriefed several al-Qaeda and Taliban detainees. I could find no evidence of links between Iraq and al-Qaeda. The documentation and interviews indicated that al-Qaeda regarded Saddam, a secular leader, as an infidel.” [International Herald Tribune, 2/19/03 Sources: Rohan Gunaratna]
People and organizations involved: Rohan Gunaratna
          

October 25, 2001

       Powell, speaking before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, dismisses bin Laden's claims that al-Qaeda's fight is in solidarity with Iraqis and Palestinians. Powell argues: “We cannot let Osama bin Laden pretend that he is doing it in the name of helping the Iraqi people or the Palestinian people. He doesn't care one whit about them. He has never given a dollar toward them. He has never spoken out for them.” [US Department of State; Slate MSNBC, 2/11/03]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell
          

Late 2001-May 2002

       Jordanian Muslim militant Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi flees Afghanistan and heads to Iran where he continues to run his terrorist organization, al-Tawhid, using telephones and a network of couriers to maintain contact with his operatives in Europe. Al Zarqawi's organization establishes another poison and explosive training center camp in northeastern Iraq in an area controlled by Ansar al-Islam, an Islamist group opposed to Saddam Hussein. In May 2002, Zarqawi goes to Baghdad and has an amputation performed on his leg, which had been injured when he was fleeing US forces in Afghanistan. According to the Bush administration, Al Zarqawi stays in Baghdad for two months, during which time some two dozen “al-Qaeda affiliates” establish a base of operations in the city. The group presumably “coordinate[s] the movement of people, money and supplies into and throughout Iraq for his network.” Then Zarqawi reportedly travels to the Ansar al-Islam-controlled region in Northern Iraq, before eventually returning to Iran. [Newsweek, 6/25/03; Knight Ridder Newspapers, 1/28/03; Independent, 2/6/03] In an effort to justify military action against Iraq, the Bush administration will later claim that Saddam Hussein is aware of Al Zarqawi's presence in Baghdad and therefore is guilty of knowingly harboring a terrorist (see September 26, 2002). The administration will also allege—falsely—that Al Zarqawi is a senior al-Qaeda agent and that his visit is evidence that Saddam's regime has ties to Osama bin Laden. [Newsweek, 6/25/03; Independent, 2/6/03; Guardian, 10/9/02 Sources: Shadi Abdallah] But the administration never offers any conclusive evidence to support this allegation. The claim is disputed by intelligence analysts in both Washington and London. [Telegraph, 2/4/03]
People and organizations involved: Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden  Additional Info 
          

Early 2002, probably May or later

       Czech president Vaclav Havel informs Washington that there is no evidence to substantiate claims that 9/11 plotter Mohammed Atta met with Iraqi diplomat Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani in Prague in April 2001 (see April 8, 2001). The information is relayed to the White House quietly to avoid embarrassing top Czech officials—presumably Interior Minister Stanislav Gross -who had publicly stated on more than one occasion that there was no evidence to suggest that the meeting did not take place. The New York Times will report in October 2002: “Mr. Havel ... moved carefully behind the scenes in the months after the reports of the Prague meeting came to light to try to determine what really happened, officials said. He asked trusted advisers to investigate, and they quietly went through back channels to talk with Czech intelligence officers to get to the bottom of the story. The intelligence officers told them there was no evidence of a meeting.” The New York Times also reports that analysts in the Czech intelligence service were furious that the Prime Minister stovepiped the information straight to Washington, before they had the opportunity to investigate further. [New York Times, 10/21/02; United Press International, 10/20/03 Sources: Unnamed CIA and FBI officials]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, Vaclav Havel, Mohammed Atta, Stanislav Gross  Additional Info 
          

Early 2002

       Unnamed US intelligence officials tell the New York Times that the CIA has no evidence that Saddam Hussein's government has participated in terrorist operations against the United States in nearly a decade. The agency also believes that Saddam Hussein has not provided chemical or biological weapons to al-Qaeda or other terrorist organizations. [New York Times, 2/6/02 Sources: Unnamed US Intelligence Officials]
People and organizations involved: Saddam Hussein
          

March 19, 2002

       Testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, CIA Director George Tenet says: “There is no doubt that there have been (Iraqi) contacts and linkages to the al-Qaeda organization. As to where we are on September 11, the jury is still out. As I said carefully in my statement, it would be a mistake to dismiss the possibility of state sponsorship whether Iranian or Iraqi and we'll see where the evidence takes us.... There is nothing new in the last several months that changes our analysis in any way.... There's no doubt there have been contacts or linkages to the al-Qaeda organization.... I want you to think about al-Qaeda as a front company that mixes and matches its capabilities.... The distinction between Sunni and Shia that have traditionally divided terrorists groups are not distinctions we should make any more, because there are common interests against the United States and its allies in this region, and they will seek capabilities wherever they can get it.... Their ties may be limited by divergent ideologies, but the two sides' mutual antipathies toward the United States and the Saudi royal family suggests that tactical cooperation between them is possible.” [PBS, 3/19/02; Agence France Press, 3/20/02]
People and organizations involved: George Tenet
          

April 25, 2002

       British Prime Minister Tony Blair's spokesperson states, “Given what we know about al-Qaeda's interest in the material, we have to have concerns about a possible marriage between those who wish to acquire it and those who have it.” Immediately after the statement is made, Britain's own senior military officials refute the claim saying that there is no credible evidence to support the claim. A senior source tells the Independent of London, “We are not aware of evidence, intelligence or otherwise, that the Iraqi government or its agencies are passing on weapons of mass destruction to al-Qaeda. Nor have we seen any credible evidence linking the Iraqi government to the September 11 attacks.” [Independent, 3/26/02 Sources: Unnamed senior British military source]
          

June 2002

       The CIA issues a classified report titled, “Iraq and al-Qaeda: A Murky Relationship,” which reportedly expresses doubts that Iraq is involved in international terrorism. [The Washington Post, 10/20/2002; New York Times, 4/28/2004; Telegraph, 7/11/2004] Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith informs Donald Rumsfeld that the report should be read “for content only—and CIA's interpretation should be ignored.” [Telegraph, 7/11/2004]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld, Douglas Feith
          

July 2002-March 19, 2003

       Numerous US and British, current and former, intelligence, military, and other government officials who have inside knowledge refute claims made by the Bush administration that Saddam Hussein's regime has or is seeking ties with global Islamic terrorist groups. [Independent, 2/9/03; New York Times, 2/3/03; Knight Ridder, 10/7/02; Radio Free Europe, 10/29/02; International Herald Tribune, 11/1/02; Los Angeles Times, 11/4/02; Baltimore Sun, 9/26/02; Wall Street Journal, 8/15/02; Telegraph, 2/4/03; Washington Post 9/10/02; Sunday Herald, 10/13/02; CBC News, 11/1/02]
People and organizations involved: Daniel Benjamin, Igor Ivanov, Tony Blair, Rohan Gunaratna, Vince Cannistraro, Youssef M. Ibrahim, Jean Chretien, MIchael O'Hanlon, Baltasar Garzon, Anna Eshoo, Brent Scowcroft, Jean-Louis Brugui←re, Jack Straw, US Department of State, 4/30/2001, Saddam Hussein, George W. Bush, Vince Cannistraro, Richard Durbin, Michael Chandler  Additional Info 
          

Late July 2002

       A Congressional panel investigating the terrorist attacks of September 11 concludes that there is no evidence that Mohammad Atta—under any of his known aliases—visited Prague in April 2001 (see April 8, 2001). [Boston Globe, 8/3/03]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, Mohammed Atta  Additional Info 
          

July 30, 2002

       Richard Butler, a former UN inspector from Australia, tells the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “I have seen no evidence of Iraq providing weapons of mass destruction to non-Iraqi terrorist groups.” [Associated Press, 8/1/02]
People and organizations involved: Richard Butler
          

Early August 2002

       Several Pentagon officials, including Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, meet with the FBI's assistant director for counterterrorism, Pat D'Amuro, to discuss the latest intelligence concerning the alleged April 2001 (see April 8, 2001) meeting between 9/11 plotter Mohammed Atta and Iraqi diplomat Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani. Wolfowitz pressures the two agencies' analysts to confirm that the Prague meeting had in fact happened. The FBI concedes that the occurrence of the meeting, though not proven, was at least possible. [Time, 9/2/02 Sources: Unnamed CIA and FBI officials]
People and organizations involved: Mohammed Atta, Paul Wolfowitz, Pat D'Amuro, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani
          

August 2002

       Defense Intelligence Agency [DIA] reservist and Penn-State political-science professor Chris Carney and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith give two presentations on Iraq's alleged ties to al-Qaeda to the CIA at the agency's Langley headquarters. CIA analysts are not impressed, having seen much of the information before and having already determined that it was not credible. Some of the information will nevertheless be included in speeches by Bush and in testimony by Tenet to Congress. The information is also put into a classified memo to the Senate Intelligence Committee by Feith, which is later leaked to The Weekly Standard, a neoconservative magazine. [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 238]
People and organizations involved: Chris Carney, Douglas Feith
          

(August 2002)

       Pentagon officials working in the Office of Special Plans visit George Tenet at CIA headquarters under the direction of Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith to voice their objections to the final draft of a CIA assessment on Iraq's supposed links to terrorism. The officials disputed the report's conclusion that intelligence suggesting an alleged April 2001 Prague meeting between Mohammed Atta and Iraqi diplomat Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani (see 1999) was not credible. As a result of Pentagon officials' objections, the CIA's assessment is postponed until September 18. Tenet will later say he “didn't think much of” the briefing. [Telegraph, 7/11/2004; Newsweek, 7/19/2004]
People and organizations involved: George Tenet
          

August 15, 2002

       Brent Scowcroft is the source of major embarrassment for the administration when he authors an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal arguing against the need to remove Saddam Hussein from power. He says that the toppling of Saddam's regime would destabilize the Middle East and thus “turn the whole region into a cauldron and destroy the War on Terror.” Noting that “there is scant evidence to tie Saddam to terrorist organizations, and even less to the Sept. 11 attacks,” he calls on Bush to abandon his designs on Saddam Hussein and instead refocus his foreign policy on the war on terrorism. [Wall Street Journal] It is suggested that Scowcroft's criticisms probably reflect the feelings of the President's father. The Los Angeles Times reports: “Several former officials close to Scowcroft said they doubted he would have gone public with that posture without clearing the move first with the senior Bush, heightening questions about the latter's view on confronting Iraq. The former president has not commented publicly, which has only fed speculation.” [Los Angeles Times, 8/17/02]
People and organizations involved: Brent Scowcroft, George Herbert Walker Bush  Additional Info 
          

August 20, 2002

       Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld, citing various “intelligence reports,” claims that the Iraqi government is “hosting, supporting or sponsoring” an al-Qaeda presence in Iraq. When asked if he has evidence to support this claim Rumsfeld responds: “There are al-Qaeda in a number of locations in Iraq.... The suggestion that ... [Iraqi government officials] who are so attentive in denying human rights to their population aren't aware of where these folks [al-Qaeda] are or what they're doing is ludicrous in a vicious, repressive dictatorship.” He also says, “It's very hard to imagine that the government is not aware of what's taking place in the country.” [US Department of Defense, 8/20/02; New York Times, 8/20/02] Shortly after the Defense Secretary's allegations, an unnamed intelligence official tells the Guardian, “They are not the official guests of the Government,” adding that any al-Qaeda in the region are still “on the run.” A month later, Knight Ridder reports that according to an anonymous US official, Rumsfeld's charge is based on information from Kurdish opposition groups which are feeding information to the Pentagon. [Guardian, 8/22/02; Knight Ridder, 9/25/02 Sources: Unnamed US official, Unnamed US intelligence official]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld
          

September 2002

       An unnamed Pentagon official tells USA Today that the hawks' recent assertions regarding Iraq-al Qaeda ties are “exaggeration[s].” [USA Today, 9/26/02 Sources: Unnamed Pentagon official]
          

September 2002

       A US official with inside knowledge of the interrogations of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, tells USA Today that the administration's recent assertions that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members are based on uncorroborated information from a single detainee. The source also notes that the detainees may be lying to US authorities to encourage a US invasion of Iraq in order to add support to the al-Qaeda argument “that the United States is the mortal enemy of Muslim countries.” [USA Today, 9/26/02 Sources: Unnamed US official]
          

September 2002

       Senior intelligence officials tell the Washington Post that the CIA has yet to find solid evidence that Saddam Hussein has ties to global terrorism despite substantial efforts including analysis of surveillance photos and communications intercepts. [Washington Post, 9/10/02; Washington Post, 9/26/02 Sources: Unnamed senior intelligence officials]
People and organizations involved: Saddam Hussein
          

September 9, 2002

       Canadian Primer Minister Jean Chretien and US President George Bush meet in Detroit to discuss policy towards Iraq as well as security measures along the US-Canadian border initiated after September 11. Chretien later tells reporters that Bush said that Saddam Hussein's alleged ties to terrorism was “not the angle they're exploring now. The angle they're exploring is the production of weapons of mass destruction.” [Washington Post, 9/10/02; CNN, 9/10/02 Sources: Jean Chretien]
People and organizations involved: Jean Chretien, Saddam Hussein, George W. Bush
          

September 12, 2002

       The White House publishes a 26-page government white paper titled, “A Decade of Defiance and Deception,” which seeks to demonstrate that Saddam Hussein represents a serious and imminent threat to the United States and its people. Section 5 of the report deals with “Saddam Hussein's support for international terrorism,” though it makes no attempt to tie the Iraqi leader to al-Qaeda or Osama bin Laden. It includes a brief list of six points implicating Saddam Hussein in terrorist activities, some dating as far back as the '70s. One of the points criticizes Iraq for its ties to the Mujahadeen-e Khalq Organization (MKO), an obscure militant Iranian dissident group whose main office is in Baghdad. The report says: “Iraq shelters terrorist groups including the Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MKO), which has used terrorist violence against Iran and in the 1970s was responsible for killing several US military personnel and US civilians.” The paper notes that the US State Department classified MKO as a “foreign terrorist organization” in 1997, “accusing the Baghdad-based group of a long series of bombings, guerilla cross-border raids and targeted assassinations of Iranian leaders.” [White House, 9/12/02; Newsweek, 9/26/2002 Sources: Richard Durbin] The administration is quickly ridiculed for making the claim when, two weeks later, Newsweek reports that MKO's front organization, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, has a small office in the National Press Building in Washington D.C. It is also reported that only two years beforehand this very group had been supported by then-Senator John Ashcroft and more than 200 other members of Congress. On several issues the senator and his colleagues had expressed solidarity with MKO at the behest of their Iranian-American constituencies. [Newsweek, 9/26/2002]
People and organizations involved: Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, John Ashcroft
          

September 15-20, 2002

       In closed sessions, administration officials are asked several times whether they have evidence of an imminent threat from Iraq against US citizens. US Representative Anna Eshoo, later tells the San Francisco Chronicle that the officials acknowledged they had no such evidence. “They said ‘no,’ ” she says, “Not ‘no, but’ or ‘maybe,’ but ‘no.’ I was stunned. Not shocked. Not surprised. Stunned.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/20/02 Sources: Anna Eshoo]
People and organizations involved: Anna Eshoo
          

September 16, 2002

       Two days before the CIA is to issue an assessment (see (August 2002)) on Iraq's supposed links to terrorism, Pentagon officials working in the Office of Special Plans give a briefing directly to the White House; Vice-President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis Libby; and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice's deputy, Stephen Hadley. The briefing says that there were “fundamental problems” with CIA intelligence-gathering methods and includes a detailed breakdown of the alleged April 2001 Prague meeting between Mohammed Atta and Iraqi diplomat Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani. [Telegraph, 7/11/2004; Newsweek, 7/19/2004]
People and organizations involved: Lewis Libby, Stephen Hadley
          

September 25, 2002

       During a White House meeting with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, George Bush makes the claim that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden work together. “The danger is, is that they work in concert,” he says in response to a question from a Reuters reporter. “The danger is, is that al-Qaeda becomes an extension of Saddam's madness and his hatred and his capacity to extend weapons of mass destruction around the world.” He continues: “I can't distinguish between the two, because they're both equally as bad, and equally as evil and equally as destructive.” [White House, 9/25/03a; Washington Post, 9/26/2002; Knight Ridder Newspapers, 9/25/2002] Later in the day, Bush's comments are downplayed by White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, who says that Bush did not mean Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein are working together, but rather that there is the danger that they could work together. He explains, “Clearly, al-Qaeda is operating inside Iraq. In the shadowy world of terrorism, sometimes there is no precise way to have definitive information until it is too late.” [White House, 9/25/03b; Washington Post, 9/26/2002]
          

September 26, 2002

       Rumsfeld claims the US government has “bulletproof” confirmation of ties between Baghdad and al-Qaeda members, including “solid evidence” that al Qaeda maintains a presence in Iraq. The allegation refers to Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi, a Jordanian-born Palestinian who is the founder of al-Tawhid, an organization whose aim is to kill Jews and install an Islamic regime in Jordan (see Late 2001-May 2002). No evidence ever surfaces to suggest that the group works with al-Qaeda. Rumsfeld's statement is based on intercepted telephone calls in which Al Zarqawi was overheard calling friends or relatives. But Knight Ridder Newspapers reports that according to US intelligence officials, “The intercepts provide no evidence that the suspected terrorist was working with the Iraqi regime or that he was working on a terrorist operation while he was in Iraq.” [Knight Ridder Newspapers, 10/7/02 Sources: Unnamed US Intelligence Officials] Shortly after the Defense Secretary's allegations, an unnamed intelligence official tells the Guardian, “They are not the official guests of the Government,” adding that any members of militant Islamist organizations in the region are still “on the run.” [Guardian, 8/22/02]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld, Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi  Additional Info 
          

September 26, 2002

       Powell tells the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “The world had to recognize that the potential connection between terrorists and weapons of mass destruction moved terrorism to a new level of threat. In fact, that nexus became the overriding security concern of our nation. It still is and it will continue to be our overriding concern for some years to come.” [US Department of State, 9/26/02] But Paul Anderson, spokesman for Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, tells reporters that Graham, who has access to highly classified reports, has seen no evidence that Iraq has ties to al-Qaeda. [USA Today, 9/26/02 Sources: Paul Anderson]
People and organizations involved: Paul Anderson, Bob Graham, Colin Powell
          

September 26, 2002

       During the daily press “gaggle,” Ari Fleischer acknowledges there is no evidence that Iraq was involved in the September 11 attacks. [White House, 9/26/02]
People and organizations involved: Ari Fleischer
          

October 1, 2002

       The National Intelligence Council, a board of senior analysts who prepare reports on crucial national security issues, completes a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq. The purpose of an NIE is to provide policy-makers with an intelligence assessment that includes all available information on a specific issue so that they can make sound policy decisions. The formal document is supposed to be the result of a collaborative effort of the entire intelligence community and is supposed to be untainted by political interests. The decision to produce the assessment on Iraq followed criticisms that the administration had already decided to invade Iraq without having received—or even called for—an assessment from its multi-billion dollar intelligence apparatus on the supposed threat posed by Iraq. Congress wanted the NIE completed prior to voting on a bill authorizing the President to use force against Iraq and was formally requested by Senator Bob Graham NIEs such as this usually take months to prepare, however this document took a mere three weeks. The person in charge of preparing the document was weapons expert Robert Walpole. According to the Independent of London, Walpole has a track record of tailoring his work to support the preconceived conclusions of his superiors. “In 1998, he had come up with an estimate of the missile capabilities of various rogue states that managed to sound considerably more alarming than a previous CIA estimate issued three years earlier,” the newspaper will report. “On that occasion, he was acting at the behest of a congressional commission anxious to make the case for a missile defense system; the commission chairman was none other than Donald Rumsfeld ....” [Independent, 11/3/03]
Summary of NIE Conclusions - After the document is completed, two different versions will be released. An abridged declassified version is posted on the CIA's website for the public, while the classified version is disseminated within the administration and to Congress (see (8:00pm) October 1, 2002). The two versions portray the threat posed by Saddam Hussein very differently. The classified version of the NIE on Iraq provides a far less alarmist view of the threat allegedly posed by Iraq than that which is presented in the public version of the document. According to US intelligence and congressional sources who read the classified document, the intelligence estimate contains “cautionary language about Iraq's connections with al-Qaeda and warnings about the reliability of conflicting reports by Iraqi defectors and captured al-Qaeda members about the ties.” And notably, the second paragraph of the “key judgment” section states that the estimate lacks “specific information” on Iraq's alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. Though the document does say that Iraq probably has chemical and biological weapons, it also says that US intelligence analysts believe that Saddam Hussein would only launch an attack against the US if he felt a US invasion was inevitable. The intelligence estimate also concludes that Saddam would only provide terrorists with chemical or biological agents for use against the United States as a last resort in order to “exact vengeance by taking a large number of victims with him.” A senior intelligence official will later tell The Washington Post in June 2003: “There has always been an internal argument within the intelligence community about the connections between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. The NIE had alternative views.” The NIE also concludes that Iraq does not have nuclear weapons. The public version of the report—which is presented to Congress before it votes on a resolution conditionally authorizing Bush to use military force against Iraq—contains language that is far less qualified and nuanced than the classified version. [Washington Post, 6/22/03; Agence France Presse, 11/30/03 Sources: US intelligence and congressional sources, Stuart Cohen, INR's alternative view in the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq]

Iraqi attempts to obtain uranium from Africa - The document makes a reference to the allegation that Iraq has sought to procure uranium from Africa. “A foreign government service reported that as of early 2001, Niger planned to send several tons of ‘pure uranium’ (probably yellowcake) to Iraq. As of early 2001, Niger and Iraq reportedly were still working out arrangements for this deal, which could be for up to 500 tons of yellowcake. We do not know the status of this arrangement. Reports indicate Iraq also has sought uranium ore from Somalia and possibly the Democratic Republic of the Congo.” But the alternative view—endorsed by the State Department's bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR)—says that it is doubtful Iraq sought to procure uranium from Africa. “(T)he claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are, in INR's assessment, highly dubious,” it reads. [US Government, 10/02; Washington Post, 7/19/03 Sources: Wissam al-Zahawie]

Iraqi attempts to obtain aluminum tubes - The declassified, public version of the NIE states: “Iraq's aggressive attempts to obtain proscribed high-strength aluminum tubes are of significant concern. All intelligence experts agree that Iraq is seeking nuclear weapons and that these tubes could be used in a centrifuge enrichment program. Most intelligence specialists assess this to be the intended use, but some believe that these tubes are probably intended for conventional weapons programs. Based on tubes of the size Iraq is trying to acquire, a few tens of thousands of centrifuges would be capable of producing enough highly enriched uranium for a couple of weapons per year.” However the classified version of the document presents a more nuanced assessment. In the main text of the document, it says that the Energy Department “agrees that reconstitution of the nuclear program is underway but assesses that the tubes probably are not part of the program.” At the bottom of the page, in a lengthy footnote by the State Department's INR, the alternative view states that the agency agrees with the DOE's assessment that the tubes are not meant for use in a gas centrifuge. The footnote reads: “In INR's view Iraq's efforts to acquire aluminum tubes is central to the argument that Baghdad is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program, but INR is not persuaded that the tubes in question are intended for use as centrifuge rotors. INR accepts the judgment of technical experts at the US Department of Energy (DOE) who have concluded that the tubes Iraq seeks to acquire are poorly suited for use in gas centrifuges to be used for uranium enrichment and finds unpersuasive the arguments advanced by others to make the case that they are intended for that purpose. INR considers it far more likely that the tubes are intended for another purpose, most likely the production of artillery rockets. The very large quantities being sought, the way the tubes were tested by the Iraqis, and the atypical lack of attention to operational security in the procurement efforts are among the factors, in addition to the DOE assessment, that lead INR to conclude that the tubes are not intended for use in Iraq's nuclear weapon program.” [US Government, 10/02; Washington Post, 7/19/03; USA Today, 7/31/03 Sources: Wissam al-Zahawie]

Reconstituted nuclear weapons programs - The intelligence estimate says that “most” of the US' six intelligence agencies believe there is “compelling evidence that Saddam [Hussein] is reconstituting a uranium enrichment effort for Baghdad's nuclear weapons program.” The classified version of the document includes the dissenting position of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) which states: “The activities we have detected do not, however, add up to a compelling case that Iraq is currently pursuing what INR would consider to be an integrated and comprehensive approach to acquire nuclear weapons. Iraq may be doing so, but INR considers the available evidence inadequate to support such a judgment. Lacking persuasive evidence that Baghdad has launched a coherent effort to reconstitute its nuclear weapons programs, INR is unwilling to ... project a timeline for the completion of activities it does not now see happening.” It is later learned that nuclear scientists in the Department of Energy's in-house intelligence office were also opposed to the NIE's conclusion and had wanted to endorse the State's alternative view. However, the person representing the DOE, Thomas Rider, silenced the views of those within his department and inexplicably voted to support the position that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear weapons program (see September 2002). The DOE's vote was seen as critical, since the department's assessment was supposed to represent the views of the government's nuclear experts. [US Government, 10/02; Washington Post, 7/19/03; Knight Ridder, 2/10/04; Knight Ridder, 2/10/04 Sources: Wissam al-Zahawie]

Chemical and Biological Weapons - The classified version of the estimate uses cautionary language to conclude that Iraq probably does have chemical and biological weapons. It states: “We judge Iraq has some lethal and incapacitating BW agents and is capable of quickly producing and weaponizing a variety of such agents, including anthrax, for delivery by bombs, missiles, aerial sprayers, and covert operatives.” But the document also highlights the belief that it is unlikely that Iraq has any intention to use these against the US. “... Baghdad for now appears to be drawing a line short of conducting terrorist attacks with conventional or CBW [Chemical/Biological Weapons] against the United States, fearing that exposure of Iraqi involvement would provide Washington with a stronger case for making war.” Iraq would probably only use such weapons against the United States if it “feared an attack that threatened the survival of the regime were imminent or unavoidable, or possibly for revenge.” [Sources: 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq]
The last two observations are conspicuously absent from the declassified, public version of the estimate, which reads only, “Iraq has some lethal and incapacitating BW agents and is capable of quickly producing and weaponizing a variety of such agents, including anthrax, for delivery by bombs, missiles, aerial sprayers, and covert operatives, including potentially against the US Homeland.” [Knight Ridder, 2/10/04; Washington Post, 2/7/03]
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles - The NIE claims that Iraq has unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) which can be used to deploy biological and chemical weapons. “Baghdad's UAVs—especially if used for delivery of chemical and biological warfare (CBW) agents—could threaten Iraq's neighbors, US forces in the Persian Gulf, and the United States if brought close to, or into, the US Homeland.” [Sources: 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq]
But this view is not held unanimously among the various intelligence agencies. Significantly, the Air Force's National Air and Space Intelligence Center disagrees with this assessment. The Center, which controls most of the American military's UAV fleet, says in a dissenting opinion that there is little evidence that Iraq's drones are related to the country's suspected biological weapons program. Current intelligence suggests that the drones are not capable of carrying much more than a camera and a video recorder. The Air Force believes that Iraq's unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are for reconnaissance, like its counterparts in the US. The dissenting opinion reads: “... The Director, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, US Air Force, does not agree that Iraq is developing UAVs primarily intended to be delivery platforms for chemical and biological warfare (CBW) agents. The small size of Iraq's new UAV strongly suggests a primary role of reconnaissance, although CBW delivery is an inherent capability.” [Associated Press, 8/24/03; Washington Post, 9/26/03; Knight Ridder, 2/10/04 Sources: US Government officials and scientists] This important statement is not included in the public version of the document. [Knight Ridder, 2/10/04 Sources: 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq] Bob Boyd, director of the Air Force Intelligence Analysis Agency, will tell reporters in August 2003 that his department thought the allegation in the NIE “was a little odd,” noting that Air Force assessments “all along” had said that reconnaissance, not weapons delivery, was the purpose of Iraq's drones. “Everything we discovered strengthened our conviction that the UAVs were to be used for reconnaissance,” he will explain. “What we were thinking was: Why would you purposefully design a vehicle to be an inefficient delivery means? Wouldn't it make more sense that they were purposefully designing it to be a decent reconnaissance UAV?” [Associated Press, 8/24/03; Washington Post, 9/26/03 Sources: Bob Boyd] The NIE's conclusion is apparently also based on accounts from defectors and exiles as well as information suggesting that Iraq is attempting to obtain “commercially available route-planning software,” containing topographic data of the United States. According to the NIE, this data “could facilitate targeting of US sites.” But Air Force analysts were not convinced by the argument, noting that this sort of information could easily be retrieved from the Internet and other highly accessible sources. “We saw nothing sinister about the inclusion of the US maps in route-planning software,” Boyd will tell reporters. [Washington Post, 9/26/03 Sources: Bob Boyd] Analysts at the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency are said to back the Air Force's National Air and Space Intelligence Center's position. [Associated Press, 8/24/03 Sources: US Government officials and scientists]
Aftermath - After the completion of the National Intelligence Estimate, the Bush administration will continue to make allegations concerning Iraq's weapons capabilities and ties to terrorism, but will include none of the qualifications and nuances that are present in the classified version of the assessment. After excerpts from the classified version of the NIE are published in the press in July of 2003 (see July 11, 2003) and the public learns that the document's conclusions had actually been much less alarmist than the public version, administration officials will claim that neither Bush, Rice nor other top officials were informed about the alternative views expressed by the DOE, INR, and the Air Force intelligence agency. They will also assert that the dissenting views did not significantly undermine the overall conclusion of the NIE that Iraq was continuing its banned weapons program despite UN resolutions. [Washington Post, 7/19/03; Washington Post, 7/27/03; New York Times, 7/19/03]
But this claim is later disputed in an article by The Washington Post, which reports: “One person who has worked with Rice describes as ‘inconceivable’ the claims that she was not more actively involved. Indeed, subsequent to the July 18 briefing, another senior administration official said Rice had been briefed immediately on the NIE—including the doubts about Iraq's nuclear program—and had ‘skimmed’ the document. The official said that within a couple of weeks, Rice ‘read it all.’ ” [Washington Post, 7/27/03 Sources: two unnamed administration officials] Additionally, senior CIA analyst Stuart Cohen, the acting chairman of the National Intelligence Council at this time, who helped write the document, will tell the Agence France Presse, “Any reader would have had to read only as far as the second paragraph of the Key Judgments to know that as we said, ‘we lacked specific information on many key aspects of Iraq's WMD program.’ ” [Agence France Presse, 11/30/03 Sources: Michael Hayden]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Bob Graham, Bob Boyd, Stuart Cohen, Condoleezza Rice  Additional Info 
          

October 2, 2002

       The House and Senate draft a joint resolution authorizing the President to use military force against Iraq. The House bill is sponsored by Democrat Richard Gephardt, who meets with the President in the morning to discuss the compromise bill. Bush concedes on a few of Mr. Gephardt's requests. The resulting joint resolutions—HJ Res. 114 in the House and SJ Res. 46, in the Senate—give substantially more to President Bush than the other proposals that are under consideration such as the Biden-Lugar initiative and Barbara Lee's HR 473. Gephardt's resolution angers many fellow democrats. [New York Times, 10/3/02 Sources: S.J. Res. 46]
The document alleges, among other things, that Iraq is harboring al-Qaeda operatives, is actively seeking and preparing to use weapons of mass destruction, had gassed its own people, had attempted to assassinate the President's father, and was in violation of past UN resolutions. [Sources: S.J. Res. 46]

The document authorizes the President to use military force to “defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and ... enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.” [Sources: S.J. Res. 46]

The document requires that the President, within 48 hours of exercising the use of military force, provide Congress with an explanation as to why diplomacy was insufficient to protect the United States or enforce United Nations resolutions. The resolution also requires the President to report to Congress every 60 days during the entire duration of the conflict. [Sources: S.J. Res. 46]

          

October 2, 2002

       In a congressional closed-door hearing, Senator Levin asks a senior intelligence witness: “If (Saddam) didn't feel threatened, did not feel threatened, is it likely that he would initiate an attack using a weapon of mass destruction?” The intelligence witness responds that under those circumstances “the likelihood ... would be low.” But the probability of Saddam using such weapons would increase, the witness explains, if the US initiates an attack. [Congressional Record, 10/7/02, Page S10154; CBC News 11/1/02 Sources: Letter from CIA Director George Tenet to Bob Graham]
People and organizations involved: Carl Levin  Additional Info 
          

October 7, 2002

       In a televised speech, Bush presents the administration's case that Saddam Hussein's regime is a threat to the security of the nation. The speech is widely criticized for including false and exaggerated statements.
Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons - Bush claims that a shipment of 3,000 aluminum tubes to Iraq, which were intercepted in Jordan by US authorities in July of 2001 (see July 2001), had been destined for use in a uranium enrichment program. But by this time numerous experts and government scientists have already warned the administration against making this allegation. [White House, 10/7/02]
Three weeks before Bush's speech, The Washington Post ran a story on the aluminum tubes. The article summarized a study by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), disputing the administration's claim that the tubes were to be used for gas centrifuges. The report was authored by the institute's president and founder, David Albright, a respected nuclear physicist, who had investigated Iraq's nuclear weapons program after the First Gulf War as a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency's inspection team and who has spoken before Congress on numerous occasions. In his study, he concluded that Iraq's attempts to import the tubes “are not evidence that Iraq is in possession of, or close to possessing, nuclear weapons” and “do not provide evidence that Iraq has an operating centrifuge plant or when such a plant could be operational.” [Institute for Science and International Security, 10/9/03; Washington Post, 9/19/02; Guardian, 10/9/02; San Francisco Chronicle, 10/12/02] Soon after the speech, David Albright tells The Guardian newspaper that there is still no evidence to substantiate that interpretation. As one unnamed specialist at the US Department of Energy explains to the newspaper, “I would just say there is not much support for that [nuclear] theory around here.” [Guardian 10/9/02] The Washington Post article also reported that government experts on nuclear technology who disagreed with the White House view had told Mr. Albright that the administration expected them to remain silent. [Washington Post 9/19/02; Independent 9/22/02] Houston G. Wood III, a retired Oak Ridge physicist considered to be “among the most eminent living experts” on gas centrifuges reviewed the tube question in August 2001 (see July 2002) and concluded at that time that it was very unlikely that the tubes had been imported to be used for centrifuges in a uranium enrichment program. He later tells The Washington Post in mid-2003 that “it would have been extremely difficult to make these tubes into centrifuges,” adding that it stretched “the imagination to come up with a way.” He also says that other centrifuge experts whom he knew shared his assessment of the tubes. [Washington Post, 8/10/03 Sources: Houston G. Wood III] In addition to the several outside experts who criticized the tubes allegation, analysts within the US intelligence community also doubted the claim. Less than a week before Bush's speech, the Energy Department and the State Department's intelligence branch, the INR, had appended a statement to a National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq disputing the theory (see October 1, 2002). [National Intelligence Estimate, 10/2002 Sources: David Albright]
Saddam Hussein ordered his nuclear program to continue in 1998 - Bush says that US intelligence has information that Saddam Hussein ordered his nuclear program to continue after inspectors left in 1998. “Before being barred from Iraq in 1998, the (UN) International Atomic Energy Agency dismantled extensive nuclear weapons-related facilities, including three uranium enrichment sites,” Bush charges. “That same year, information from a high-ranking Iraqi nuclear engineer who had defected revealed that despite his public promises, Saddam Hussein had ordered his nuclear program to continue.” [White House, 10/7/02; San Francisco Chronicle, 10/12/02]
But Bush's “high-ranking” source turns out to be Khidir Kamza, who is considered by many to be an unreliable source. David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security where Hamza worked as an analyst from 1997 to 1999, says that after Hamza defected “he went off the edge” and “started saying irresponsible things.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 10/12/02] And General Hussein Kamel, Saddam Hussein's son-in-law who was in charge of the dictator's former weapons program but who defected in 1995, told UNSCOM and IAEA inspectors, as well as US and British intelligence, that Khidhir Hamza was “a professional liar.” “He worked with us, but he was useless and always looking for promotions,” Kamel had explained. “He consulted with me but could not deliver anything. . . . He was even interrogated by a team before he left and was allowed to go.” [New Yorker, 5/5/03 Sources: UNSCOM report, S/1998/332, April 16, 1998]
Iraq is developing drones that could deploy chemical and biological weapons - The President claims that Iraq is developing drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which “could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas.” He goes so far as to say, “We're concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVs for missions targeting the United States.” [White House, 10/7/02; Guardian, 10/9/02]
But this claim comes shortly after US intelligence agencies completed a National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, in which Air Force intelligence had disputed the drone allegation (see October 1, 2002). Bush's drone allegation is quickly derided by experts and other sources. The Guardian of London reports two days later that according to US military experts, “Iraq had been converting eastern European trainer jets, known as L-29s, into drones, but ... that with a maximum range of a few hundred miles they were no threat to targets in the US.” [Guardian, 10/9/02 Sources: Unnamed military experts] And the San Francisco Chronicle will cite experts who say that “slow-moving unmanned aerial vehicles would likely be shot down as soon as they crossed Iraq's borders” because “Iraqi airspace is closely monitored by US and British planes and radar systems” . The report will also note, “It's also unclear how the vehicles would reach the US mainland—the nearest point is Maine, almost 5, 500 miles away—without being intercepted.” [San Francisco Chronicle 10/12/02 Sources: Unnamed experts] Anthony Cordesman, a security analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, will say he believes the drone allegation is unrealistic. In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, he says, “As a guesstimate, Iraq's present holdings of delivery systems and chemical and biological weapons seem most likely to be so limited in technology and operational lethality that they do not constrain US freedom of action or do much to intimidate Iraq's neighbors.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 10/12/02 Sources: Anthony Cordesman] These criticisms of Bush's claim are validated after the US invasion of Iraq. Two US government scientists involved in the post-invasion hunt for weapons of mass destruction will tell the Associated Press in August 2003 that they inspected the drones and concluded that they were never a threat to the US. “We just looked at the UAVs and said, ‘There's nothing here. There's no room to put anything in here,’ ” one of the scientists will say. “The US scientists, weapons experts who spoke on condition of anonymity, reached their conclusions after studying the small aircraft and interviewing Iraqi missile experts, system designers and Gen. Ibrahim Hussein Ismail, the Iraqi head of the military facility where the UAVs were designed,” the Associated Press will explain in its report. [Associated Press, 8/24/03 Sources: Unnamed US government scientists]
Saddam Hussein could give terrorists weapons of mass destruction - Bush asserts, “Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists.” [White House, 10/7/02]
But not only have numerous experts and inside sources disputed this theory (see July 2002-March 19, 2003), US intelligence's National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq—completed just one week before—concluded that this is an unlikely scenario (see October 1, 2002). “Baghdad, for now, appears to be drawing a line short of conducting terrorist attacks with conventional or CBW against the United States,” the document clearly stated. “Should Saddam conclude that a US-led attack could no longer be deterred he probably would become much less constrained in adopting terrorist actions.” [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/12/03]
Iraq rebuilding facilities associated with production of biological and chemical weapons - Bush claims that surveillance photos indicate that Iraq “is rebuilding facilities that it had used to produce chemical and biological weapons.” [White House, 10/7/02]
On the following day, photos are published on the White House website showing that Iraq had repaired three sites damaged by US bombs—the Al Furat Manufacturing Facility, the Nassr Engineering Establishment Manufacturing Facility, and Fallujah II. [White House, 10/8/02] But no evidence is provided by the White House demonstrating that these sites have resumed activities related to the production of weapons of mass destruction. Iraqi authorities will give reporters a tour of the facilities on October 10 (see October 10, 2002).
Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases - Bush alleges that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda operatives “in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases.” [White House, 10/7/02]
The claim is based on a September 2002 CIA document which had warned that its sources were of “varying reliability” and that the claim had not yet been substantiated (see September 2002). The report's main source, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, an al-Qaeda operative who offered the information to CIA interrogators while in custody, later recounts the claim (see February 14, 2003). [CNN, 9/26/02; Newsweek, 7/5/2004; The New York Times, 7/31/2004 Sources: Unnamed administration official] And earlier in the month, US intelligence services had concluded in their National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq that this allegation could not be confirmed. [Newsday, 10/10/02; San Francisco Chronicle, 10/12/02; Washington Post, 6/22/03; CNN, 9/26/02]
A very senior al-Qaeda leader received medical treatment in Baghdad - Bush claims: “Some al-Qaeda leaders who fled Afghanistan went to Iraq. These include one very senior al-Qaeda leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year, and who has been associated with planning for chemical and biological attacks.” The allegation refers to Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi, a Jordanian-born Palestinian who is the founder of al-Tawhid, an organization whose aim is to kill Jews and install an Islamic regime in Jordan. No evidence ever surfaces to suggest that the group works with al-Qaeda. The allegation is partly based on intercepted telephone calls in which Al Zarqawi was overheard calling friends or relatives (see Late 2001-May 2002). But Knight Ridder Newspapers reports that according to US intelligence officials, “The intercepts provide no evidence that the suspected terrorist was working with the Iraqi regime or that he was working on a terrorist operation while he was in Iraq.” [White House, 10/7/02; Knight Ridder Newspapers, 10/7/02 Sources: Umnamed US intelligence officials]

People and organizations involved: Houston G. Wood III, George W. Bush, David Albright, Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi  Additional Info 
          

October 7, 2002

       In a response letter to Senator Bob Graham of the Senate Intelligence Committee, CIA Director George Tenet says that US Intelligence's “understanding of the relationship between Iraq and al- Qaeda is evolving and is based on sources of varying reliability. Some of the information ... received comes from detainees, including some of high rank.” [Congressional Record, 10/7/02, Page S10154; CBC News 11/1/02 Sources: Letter from CIA Director George Tenet to Bob Graham]
People and organizations involved: George Tenet, Bob Graham
          

Before October 7, 2002

       During the trial of suspected terrorist Shadi Abdallah, it is learned that Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi, a Jordanian Muslim militant accused by the Bush administration of having ties to Osama bin Laden, is actually the founder of another Islamist group, al-Tawhid, which works “in opposition” to al-Qaeda (see Mid-1990s). The aim of the group is to kill Jews and install an Islamic regime in Jordan. Abdallah recounts one instance where Zarqawi vetoed a proposal to share charity funds collected in Germany with al-Qaeda. According to Abdallah, Al Zarqawi's organization had also “competed” with al-Qaeda for new recruits. [Newsweek, 6/25/03; Independent, 2/6/03] Details of the trial are passed on to US intelligence. Nonetheless, Bush will claim in a televised speech on October 7, 2002 (see October 7, 2002) that a “very senior al-Qaeda leader ... received medical treatment in Baghdad this year,” a reference to Al Zarqawi. And Colin Powell will similarly state on February 5, 2003 (see 10:30 a.m. February 5, 2003) that “Iraq is harboring the network of Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, an associate and collaborator of Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda lieutenants.” Both statements are made even though “US intelligence already had concluded that Zarqawi was not an al-Qaeda member ....” [Washington Post, 6/22/03; BBC, 2/5/03; US Department of State, 2/5/02 Sources: Unnamed US intelligence sources]
People and organizations involved: Shadi Abdallah, Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi  Additional Info 
          

October 20, 2002

       While in Prague to attend to a Trilateral Commission meeting, Richard Perle is told “in person ... that the BIS now doubts that any such meeting between Atta and al-Ani in fact took place.” And an unnamed source with ties to the BIS tells UPI: “Quite simply, we think the source for this story may have invented the meeting that he reported. We can find no corroborative evidence for the meeting and the source has real credibility problems.” [United Press International, 10/20/03 Sources: Unnamed source close to the BIS]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, Richard Perle, Mohammed Atta
          

October 30, 2002

       When asked about claims that Iraq has ties to al-Qaeda, British Foreign Minister Jack Straw responds: “It could well be the case that there were links, active links, between Al Qaeda and the Iraqi regime before Sept. 11. What I'm asked is if I've seen any evidence of that. And the answer is: I haven't.” [Los Angeles Times, 11/4/02]
People and organizations involved: Jack Straw
          

December 2, 2002

       In a speech to the Air National Guard Senior Leadership Conference in Denver, Vice President Dick Cheney calls Saddam's government an “outlaw regime” and accuses the leader of “harboring terrorists and the instruments of terror,” asserting that his government “has had high-level contacts with al-Qaeda going back a decade and has provided training to al-Qaeda terrorists.” [White House, 12/2/02c; Washington Post, 12/3/02]
People and organizations involved: Dick Cheney
          

Mid-December 2003

       The existence of a June 2002 memo—revealing that intelligence from the INC was being sent directly to the offices of Dick Cheney and William Luti—is reported in the December 15 issue of Newsweek magazine, which also reports that Francis Brooke, a DC lobbyist for the INC, admits having supplied Cheney's office with information pertaining to Iraq's alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and Saddam's supposed ties to terrorists. [Newsweek, 12/15/03 Sources: Francis Brooke, Memo] Furthermore, he acknowedges that the information provided by the INC was driven by an agenda. “I told them [the INC], as their campaign manager, ‘Go get me a terrorist and some WMD, because that's what the Bush administration is interested in.’ ” [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 230] Brooke had previously worked for the Rendon Group, “a shadowy CIA-connected public-relations firm.” [Mother Jones, 1/04] However, an unnamed Cheney aid interviewed by the same magazine flatly denies that his boss' office had received raw intelligence on Iraq. [Newsweek, 12/15/03 Sources: Unnamed staff aid of Dick Cheney's office]
People and organizations involved: William Luti, Francis Brooke, Dick Cheney
          

January 22, 2003

       The United Nations panel in charge of monitoring sanctions against the al-Qaeda network says it has found no evidence of collaboration between al-Qaeda and Iraq. The panel's chairman, Michael Chandler, tells the Agence France Presse (AFP) in an interview, “We don't have anything yet, and no-one has been able to produce anything.” [Agence France Press 1/22/03] Six months later, Mr. Chandler will reaffirm this, telling the Associated Press, “Nothing has come to our notice that would indicate links between Iraq and al-Qaeda.” Abaza Hassan, a committee investigator who will also be interviewed by the news agency, will say, “It had never come to our knowledge before Powell's speech and we never received any information from the United States for us to even follow-up on.” [Associated Press, 6/26/03]
People and organizations involved: Abaza Hassanr, Michael Chandler
          

January 28, 2003

       Knight Ridder Newspapers reports: “US officials and private analysts said Bush's suggestion that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein might give such weapons to terrorists—and the implication that the risk of American retaliation can no longer deter him—stretches the analysis of US intelligence agencies to, and perhaps beyond, the limit.” The newspaper's sources also say that “there was no evidence that Iraq and al-Qaeda had cooperated on terrorist operations and no evidence of any Iraqi role in the Sept. 11 attacks.” [Knight Ridder, 1/28/03 Sources: Unnamed US official]
People and organizations involved: Saddam Hussein
          

January 29, 2003

       Igor Ivanov, the Russian foreign minister, says during a visit to Bulgaria that neither his country nor any other has evidence of ties between Iraq and al-Qaeda. “So far, neither Russia nor any other country has information about Iraq's ties with al-Qaeda.” he says. “Nobody has provided us with such information.... If we receive such information we will analyze it. Statements made so far are not backed by concrete documents and concrete facts.” [Reuters, 1/30/03; Sydney Morning Herald, 2/1/2003]
People and organizations involved: Igor Ivanov
          

January 31, 2003

       During a joint press conference with President George Bush and British Prime Minister Blair at the White House, the two leaders are asked by a reporter, “One question for you both. Do you believe that there is a link between Saddam Hussein, a direct link, and the men who attacked on September the 11th?” Bush answers succinctly, “I can't make that claim.” [US President, 1/31/2003]
People and organizations involved: Tony Blair, George W. Bush
          

February 3-4, 2003

       In advance of Colin Powell's February 5 presentation to the UN, the Independent reports on February 3 that according to security sources in London, Powell will attempt to link Iraq to al-Qaeda. But the sources say that intelligence analysts in both Washington and London do not believe such links exist. [Independent, 2/3/03 Sources: Unnamed British intelligence sources] This is followed by a report the next day in the London Telegraph, reporting that the Bush administration's insistence of a link between al-Zarqawi, Ansar al-Islam and Saddam Hussein “has infuriated many within the United States intelligence community.” The report cites one unnamed US intelligence source who says, “The intelligence is practically non-existent,” and explains that the claim is largely based on information provided by Kurdish groups which are enemies of Ansar al-Islam. “It is impossible to support the bald conclusions being made by the White House and the Pentagon given the poor quantity and quality of the intelligence available. There is uproar within the intelligence community on all of these points, but the Bush White House has quashed dissent.” [Telegraph, 2/4/03 Sources: Unnamed US and British intelligence sources] The Telegraph predicts that “if Mr. Powell tries to prove the link between Iraq and al-Qaeda, the whole thing could fall apart,” explaining that the veto-wielding Security Council members, “France, Russia and China ... all have powerful intelligence services and their own material on al-Qaeda and they will know better than to accept the flimsy evidence of a spurious link with Baghdad.” [Telegraph, 2/4/03]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell, Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi, Saddam Hussein
          

(10:00 a.m.) February 5, 2003

       Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, attempts to telephone Colin Powell's chief of staff, Larry Wilkerson, in order to persuade Powell to link Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda and include the widely discredited claim (see October 21, 2002) that Mohammed Atta had met in Prague with an Iraqi intelligence officer in April 2001 (see April 8, 2001). Wilkerson refuses to take the call. “Scooter,” one State Department aide later explains to Vanity Fair magazine, “wasn't happy.” [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 232]
People and organizations involved: Larry Wilkerson, Colin Powell, Lewis Libby
          

February 11, 2003

       The Arab satellite TV channel Al Jazeera broadcasts a tape of a voice alleged to be that of Osama Bin Laden. The 16-minute long tape is in Arabic and calls on the Iraqi people to resist US aggression. It also encourages suicide attacks. [BBC, 2/12/03; Associated Press, 2/12/03; New York Times, 2/12/03; Reuters, 2/11/03; CNN, 2/11/03; AP, 2/11/03; Washington Post, 11/12/03; AP, 2/11/03b] Bush administration officials attempt to capitalize on the tape's discovery claiming that it represents solid evidence of ties between Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. US Secretary of State Colin Powell refers to the purported link as a “partnership.” And Powell's spokesperson, Richard Boucher says that the recording proves “that bin Laden and Saddam Hussein seem to find common ground.” [New York Times, 2/12/03; Reuters, 2/11/03; Washington Post, 11/12/03] But a senior editor for Al-Jazeera says the tape offers no evidence of ties between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. “When you hear it, it doesn't prove any relation between bin Laden or Al Qaeda group and the Iraqi regime,” he argues. [ABC News, 2/12/03] Several news reports also challenge Powell and Boucher's interpretation. For example, CNN reveals that the voice had criticized Saddam's regime, declaring that “the socialists and the rulers [had] lost their legitimacy a long time ago, and the socialists are infidels regardless of where they are, whether in Baghdad or in Aden.” [CNN, 2/11/03; New York Times, 11/12/03b] Similarly, a report published by Reuters notes that the voice “did not express support for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein—it said Muslims should support the Iraqi people rather than the country's government.” [Reuters, 2/11/03] And in a story posted - but later pulled - by MSNBC, it is actually reported that the voice “called on Iraqis to rise up and oust Iraq President Saddam Hussein.” [MSNBC, 2/11/03] MSNBC later says it pulled the story because the statement was presumably based on an unconfirmed translation. An editor for anti-war.com challenged these claims. [Anti-war.com, 2/11/03]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell, Richard A. Boucher, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein
          

Late February 2003

       The British Defense Intelligence Staff Agency (DIS) completes a classified study which concludes that Saddam Hussein and Bin Laden's earlier attempts to collaborate had “foundered” due to ideological differences. The report says: “While there have been contacts between al-Qaeda and the regime in the past, it is assessed that any fledgling relationship foundered due to mistrust and incompatible ideology.” Osama bin Laden's objectives, notes the report, are “in ideological conflict with present day Iraq.” The top secret report is sent to Prime Minister Tony Blair and other senior members of his government. [Independent, 2/6/02; BBC, 2/5/03 Sources: Unnamed British Intelligence Staff document]
People and organizations involved: Saddam Hussein, Tony Blair, Osama bin Laden  Additional Info 
          

After May 2003

       US current and former intelligence and other governmental officials who have inside knowledge continue to refute claims made by the Bush administration that Saddam Hussein's regime had or was seeking ties with global Islamic terrorist groups. [Boston Globe, 8/3/03; Associated Press, 7/12/03; UPI, 7/25/03; Associated Press, 6/26/03; UPI, 7/23/03]
People and organizations involved: Vince Cannistraro, Greg Thielmann, Mel Goodman  Additional Info 
          

After June 2003

       Several Bush administration officials back off earlier claims of an alliance between Saddam Hussein's regime and al-Qaeda. [Associated Press, 1/8/04; Independent, 1/11/04; Associated Press, 9/16/03; US Department of Defense, 8/1/03]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Paul Wolfowitz  Additional Info 
          

July 2003

       An anonymous Bush administration official tells the Associated Press, “The relationships that were plotted [between al-Qaeda and Iraq] were episodic, not continuous.” [Associated Press, 7/12/03 Sources: Unnamed Bush administration official]
          

July 24, 2003

       The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks releases the declassified portion of an 800-page report on findings stemming from its investigation of the September 11 attacks. According to Sen. Max Cleland, the White House delayed the publishing of the report for fear that it might undermine its case for invading Iraq as it shows that US intelligence agencies have no evidence tying Iraq to the 9-11 attacks or to al-Qaeda. [UPI, 7/23/03]
People and organizations involved: Max Cleland, National Commision on Terrorist Attacks  Additional Info 
          

July 30, 2003

       During a press conference, Bush is asked if the White House is planning to provide the public with “definitive evidence that Saddam was working with al-Qaeda terrorists” or if the alleged al-Qaeda links had been “exaggerated to justify war.” Bush responds that the US needs more time to analyze documents uncovered in Iraq. Bush explains: “Yes, I think, first of all, remember I just said we've been there for 90 days since the cessation of major military operations. Now, I know in our world where news comes and goes and there's this kind of instant-instant news and you must have done this, you must do that yesterday, that there's a level of frustration by some in the media. I'm not suggesting you're frustrated. You don't look frustrated to me at all. But it's going to take time for us to gather the evidence and analyze the mounds of evidence, literally, the miles of documents that we have uncovered.” [US Department of State, 7/30/2003; US Newswire, 7/30/03]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush
          

August 1, 2003

       Paul Wolfowitz says in an interview with Nancy Collins of the Laura Ingraham Show: “I'm not sure even now that I would say Iraq had something to do with it [9/11]. I think what the realization to me is—the fundamental point was that terrorism had reached the scale completely different from what we had thought of it up until then. And that it would only get worse when these people got access to weapons of mass destruction which would be only a matter of time.” [US Department of Defense, 8/1/03]
People and organizations involved: Paul Wolfowitz
          

September 28, 2003

       Appearing on Meet the Press, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice presumes to link Hussein to Osama bin Laden. “Saddam Hussein—no one has said that there is evidence that Saddam Hussein directed or controlled 9/11, but let's be very clear, he had ties to al-Qaeda, he had al-Qaeda operatives who had operated out of Baghdad.” [NBC, 9/28/2003; Iraq on the Record database, 3/16/2004]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice
          

January 8, 2004

       In response to a question at a news conference, Colin Powell says, “I have not seen a smoking gun, concrete evidence about the connection, but I think the possibility of such connections did exist and it was prudent to consider them at the time that we did.” [Associated Press, 1/8/04; Independent, 1/11/04]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell
          

July 2004

       The 9/11 Commission concludes that there was “no credible evidence that Iraq and al-Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States” and that repeated contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda “do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship.” It also says that it did not believe the alleged April 2001 Prague meeting between Mohammed Atta and Iraqi diplomat Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani (see 1999) ever took place. [New York Times, 7/12/2004]
          


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