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Key Events

Key events related to DSM (56)

General Topic Areas

Alleged al-Qaeda ties (83)
Politicization of intelligence
Pre-9/11 plans for war (34)
Weapons inspections (122)
Alleged WMDs (99)
The decision to invade (104)
Internal opposition (29)
Motives (53)
Pre-war planning (30)
Predictions (19)
Legal justification (96)
Propaganda (23)
Public opinion on Iraqi threat (13)
Diversion of Resources to Iraq (8)
Pre-war attacks against Iraq (18)

Specific Allegations

Aluminum tubes allegation (59)
Office of Special Plans (24)
Africa-uranium allegation (95)
Prague Connection (24)
Al Zarqawi allegation (10)
Poisons And Gases (5)
Drones (4)
Biological weapons trailers (18)

Specific cases and issues

Spying on the UN (8)
Outing of Jose Bustani (13)
Powells Speech to UN (13)
Chalabi and the INC (63)

Quotes from senior US officials

Chemical and biological weapons allegations (23)
Imminent threat allegations (5)
Iraq ties to terrorist allegations (15)
Nuclear weapons allegations (29)
WMD allegations (9)
Democracy rhetoric (33)
Decision to Invade quotes (16)
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Events leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq: Politicization of intelligence and deception

 
  

Project: Inquiry into the decision to invade Iraq

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1991-2003

       The British MI6 establishes Operation Mass Appeal, a British intelligence mission “designed to exaggerate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction” in order to shape public opinion. [BBC, 11/21/03] The operation plants stories in the US, British, and foreign media from the 1990s through 2003. Intelligence used by Mass Appeal is said to be “single source data of dubious quality.” After the First Gulf War, the operation seeks to justify the UN sanctions policy. But after the September 11 attacks, its objective is to secure public support for an invasion of Iraq. The mission is similar to Operation Rockingham (see 1991-March 2003), another British intelligence disinformation program. [New Yorker, 3/31/03; Scotsman, 11/21/03; BBC, 11/21/03 Sources: Former Clinton Administration official, Scott Ritter] Former US Marine intelligence officer Scott Ritter says in late in 2003 (see November 21, 2003) that he supplied Mass Appeal with intelligence while serving as UN chief weapons inspector from the summer of 1997 until August 1998 and that he met with British agents involved in the operation several times in both New York and London. [BBC, 11/21/03 Sources: Scott Ritter]
People and organizations involved: Scott Ritter  Additional Info 
          

1991-March 2003

       After the First Gulf War, the British Defense Ministry's Defense Intelligence Staff creates a secret intelligence office known as Operation Rockingham. The purpose of the top secret cell is to collect intelligence that can be used by the US and British to support the case for maintaining UN sanctions on Iraq. After the September 11 attacks, Rockingham helps build Britain's case for the need to use military force against Iraq. [Sunday Herald, 6/8/03b; Guardian, 11/21/03; Sunday Herald, 6/8/03a; Guardian, 11/29/03; BBC, 11/21/03; Scotsman, 11/21/03 Sources: Unnamed British intelligence officials, Scott Ritter] Former US Marine intelligence officer Scott Ritter, who has first-hand knowledge of the operation, will later tell reporters that “Rockingham was spinning reports and emphasizing reports that showed noncompliance (by Iraq with UN inspections) and quashing those which showed compliance. It was cherry-picking intelligence.” He also says that members of the cell were backed by officials “from the very highest levels,” including military and intelligence officers, as well as civilian officials from the ministry of defense. [Sunday Herald, 6/8/03b; Sunday Herald, 6/8/03a Sources: Scott Ritter] The operation is similar to Operation Mass Appeal (see 1991-2003), another British intelligence disinformation program. Rockingham is also compared to the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans (see August 18, 2003), which has also been accused of producing misleading assessments on Iraq based on the selective use of intelligence. [Sunday Herald, 6/8/03a; Guardian, 11/21/03 Sources: Scott Ritter]
People and organizations involved: Scott Ritter  Additional Info 
          

Early 2001

       Shortly after Bush is inaugurated into office, Greg Thielmann, an analyst for the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), is appointed to serve as the intelligence liaison to John Bolton. But Thielmann's intelligence briefings do not support Bolton's assumptions about Iraq, and Thielmann is soon barred from attending the meetings. According to Thielmann: “Bolton seemed to be troubled because INR was not telling him what he wanted to hear. I was intercepted at the door of his office and told, ‘The undersecretary doesn't need you to attend this meeting anymore. The undersecretary wants to keep this in the family.’” [New Yorker, 10/20/03 Sources: Greg Thielmann]
People and organizations involved: Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Greg Thielmann, John R. Bolton  Additional Info 
          

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. [Mother Jones, 1/04; Independent, 9/30/03; New Yorker, 5/5/03; Guardian, 7/17/03; Salon, 7/16/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03 Sources: Greg Thielmann, Unnamed administration official] The INC's primary intelligence organization is its Information Collection Program (ICP), which conducts about 20 percent of all US intelligence's verbal debriefings of Iraqi prisoners, insurgents, and defectors. [Bamford, 2004, pp 336-337] Some of the INC's intelligence on Iraq is 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: Francis Brooke, Memo] 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: Douglas Feith, Frank Gaffney, Francis Brooke, Richard ("Dick") Cheney  Additional Info 
          

After January 20, 2001

       After George W. Bush is inaugurated into office, the manner in which the daily intelligence briefings are presented to the president changes. President Bill Clinton read the PDBs, usually about 12 pages in length, himself and often had no need for the follow-up oral briefings. Bush, on the other hand, prefers a shorter seven-to-10-page PDB containing “more targeted hard intelligence” items. The PDB is delivered to him orally, as he reads along. According to the Washington Post, the CIA's top officials personally review the PDB before it is presented to Bush. “Tenet reviews the PDB with the briefer as they drive from the director's Maryland home to the White House. On the way, Tenet often makes notes and looks over the backup material the briefer has brought. Tenet and, often, the deputy director for intelligence have already looked it over before going to bed the night before, though it is finished by staffers who go to work at midnight and monitor incoming intelligence throughout the night.” Tenet is present during the actual briefing and “expands where he believes necessary and responds to questions by Bush and others,” the Post reports. [CNN, 1/18/2001; Washington Post, 5/24/2002, pp A33] According to retired veteran CIA analyst Ray McGovern, the CIA director's presence during these briefing is highly unusual. The daily briefings began during the Reagan administration at the suggestion of then-Vice President George H. W. Bush. According to McGovern, the briefings were done at that time by a “small team of briefers ... comprised of senior analysts who had been around long enough to earn respect and trust.” McGovern, who did such briefings for the vice president, the secretaries of state and defense, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, and the national security assistant from 1981 to 1985, says that briefers “had the full confidence of the CIA director, who ... rarely inserted himself into the PDB process. .... The last thing we briefers needed was the director breathing down our necks.” McGovern suggests that Tenet's presence at the briefings possibly influenced the content of the briefing. [McGovern, 3/5/2005]
People and organizations involved: Ray McGovern, George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, William Jefferson ("Bill") Clinton
          

Shortly after January 20, 2001

       Shortly after George W. Bush is inaugurated, “[k]ey personnel, long-time civilian professionals” at the Pentagon's Near East South Asia (NESA) desk are moved or replaced with people from neoconservative think tanks. [Mother Jones, 1/04; American Conservative, 12/1/03 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski] Joe McMillan, the Office Director, is moved to a new location outside of the Pentagon, which according to Karen Kwiatkowski, who works at the NESA desk, is odd because “the whole reason for the Office Director being a permanent civilian (occasionally military) professional is to help bring the new appointee up to speed, ensure office continuity, and act as a resource relating to regional histories and policies.” [Mother Jones, 1/04; Salon, 3/10/04; American Conservative, 12/1/03 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski] Larry Hanauer, who has long been at the Israel-Syria-Lebanon desk and who is known to be “even-handed with Israel,” is replaced by David Schenker of the Washington Institute. [Mother Jones, 1/04; American Conservative, 12/1/03 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski] Other veteran NESA employees who are banished include James Russell, who has served as the country director for Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, and Marybeth McDevitt, the country director for Egypt. [Mother Jones, 1/04]
People and organizations involved: Marybeth McDevitt, James Russell, Joe McMillan, Larry Hanauer, David Schenker  Additional Info 
          

February 23, 2001

       During a press briefing held aboard a plane en route to Cairo, Egypt, Colin Powell says: “Though [the Iraqis] may be pursuing weapons of mass destruction of all kinds. It is not clear how successful they have been. We ought to declare [sanctions] a success. We have kept [Saddam Hussein] contained, kept him in his box.” [Minneapolis Star Tribune, 1/28/2004; Time, 3/24/2003; US Department of State, 2/23/2001]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell
          

Mid-February 2001

       David Frum interviews George W. Bush for a biography he is writing on the new president. Some time later, he reviews the notes he took during this interview and is “startled at how much of what would happen over the next year is prefigured” in those notes. Bush's statements, he says, demonstrated “his focus on the danger presented by Iran [and] his determination to dig Saddam Hussein out of power in Iraq.” [Frum, 2003, pp 26]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, David Frum
          

September 11, 2001-March 17, 2003

       In the months leading up to the war with Iraq, Bush administration officials manipulate the intelligence provided to them by analysts in order to drum up support for the invasion. Some analysts complain that they are under pressure to write assessments that support the administration's case for invading Iraq. On March 7, 2002, Knight Ridder reports that various military officials, intelligence employees, and diplomats in the Bush administration have charged “that the administration squelches dissenting views and that intelligence analysts are under intense pressure to produce reports supporting the White House's argument that Hussein poses such an immediate threat to the United States that preemptive military action is necessary.” [Knight Ridder, 10/7/02 Sources: Jonathan Dean, Simon Crean, Mel Goodman, Joseph Cirincione, John Prados, Ivan Eland, Edward Kennedy, Knight Ridder Newspapers, David Albright, Seymour Hersh, Demetrius Perricos, Scott Ritter, Karen Kwiatkowski, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Stansfield Turner, Robin Cook, Bob Graham, Vincent Cannistraro, David Albright, Several unnamed US intelligence officials, Menzies Campbell, Patrick G. Eddington, Ray McGovern, Larry C. Johnson, Greg Thielmann, Patrick Lang, Andrew Wilkie, Larry Hanauer, Richard A. Clarke]
 Additional Info 
          

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. [New York Times, 7/18/03; MSNBC, 6/15/03]
People and organizations involved: Wesley Clark
          

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 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. Neither Wurmser nor Maloof are intelligence professionals. 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. [New York Times, 10/24/02; Los Angeles Times, 2/8/04; Reuters, 2/19/04; Mother Jones, 1/04; Washington Times, 1/14/02] 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 militant Islamic 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. [Mother Jones, 1/04; Los Angeles Times, 2/8/04; Washington Times, 1/14/02] The group is later accused of stovepiping intelligence directly to the White House. Former DIA chief of Mideast operations, Pat Lang, later tells the Washington Times: “That unit had meetings with senior White House officials without the CIA or the Senate being aware of them. That is not legal. There has to be oversight.” According to Lang and another US intelligence official, the two men go to the White House several times to brief officials, bypassing CIA analysts whose analyses they disagreed with. They allegedly brief White House staffers Stephen Hadley, the deputy national security adviser, and Lewis “Scooter” Libby, chief of staff for Vice President Richard Cheney, according to congressional staffers. [Washington Times, 7/29/2004] According to unnamed Pentagon and US intelligence officials, the group is also accused of providing sensitive CIA and Pentagon intercepts to the US-funded Iraqi National Congress, which then passed them on to the government of Iran. [Washington Times, 7/29/2004] 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). [American Conservative, 12/1/03; Mother Jones, 1/04]
People and organizations involved: Stephen Hadley, Lewis ("Scooter") Libby, Douglas Feith, David Wurmser, Harold Rhode, Richard Perle, F. Michael Maloof, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz
          

September 12, 2001

       US President George Bush speaks privately with White House counterterrorism advisor Richard Clarke in the White House Situation Room. According to Clarke, Bush tells him to investigate the possibility that Iraq was involved in the attacks. “I want you, as soon as you can, to go back over everything, everything,” Bush says. “See if Saddam did this.” When Clarke responds, “But Mr. President, al-Qaeda did this,” Bush replies, “I know, I know, but... see if Saddam was involved. Just look. I want to know any shred.” Clarke insists that the CIA, FBI, and White House already concluded that there were no such links. As he exits the room, Bush “testily” says again, “Look into Iraq, Saddam.” [Washington Post, 3/22/2004 Sources: Richard A. Clarke] During a “60 Minutes” interview, Clarke will say that Bush's instructions were made in a way that was “very intimidating,” and which hinted that Clarke “should come back with that answer.” “Now he never said, ‘Make it up.’ But the entire conversation left me in absolutely no doubt that George Bush wanted me to come back with a report that said Iraq did this.” [CBS News, 3/20/04; New York Times, 3/23/04] Clarke's account is later confirmed by several eyewitnesses. [Guardian, 3/26/2004; BBC, 3/23/2004; CBS News, 3/20/04] After his meeting with Bush, Clarke works with CIA and FBI experts to produce the report requested by the president; but they find no evidence that Iraq had a hand in the attacks. It gets “bounced by the national-security advisor, or deputy,” according to Clarke. “ It got bounced and sent back, saying ‘Wrong answer .... Do it again.’ ” [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pp 238]
People and organizations involved: Richard A. Clarke, Scott McClellan, George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Stephen Hadley  Additional Info 
          

September 16, 2001

       Vice President Dick Cheney is asked by Tim Russert of NBC's Meet the Press if the US has evidence that Saddam Hussein is harboring terrorists. Cheney responds: “There is—in the past, there have been some activities related to terrorism by Saddam Hussein. But at this stage, you know, the focus is over here on al-Qaeda and the most recent events in New York. Saddam Hussein's bottled up, at this point, but clearly, we continue to have a fairly tough policy where the Iraqis are concerned.” [White House, 9/16/2001]
People and organizations involved: Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

2002

       An unnamed senior CIA operative will later allege in a lawsuit that in 2002, his superiors instructed him to falsify his reporting on weapons of mass destruction because it was “contrary” to “official CIA dogma” and “the politically mandated conclusion.” When the operative refuses to change his reporting, the “management” of the CIA's Counterproliferation Division orders that he “remove himself from any further ‘handling’” of the unnamed asset, who the CIA regards as “a highly respected human asset.” The operative will also allege that CIA managers retaliated in response to his refusal to obey their orders. [Washington Post, 12/9/2004, pp A02 Sources: US District Court for District of Columbia, 12/6/2004]
          

2002-March 2003

       An unnamed CIA case officer with the agency's Directorate of Operations (DO) later says: “I was working from the headquarters end in our Iraqi operations. In talking to the specialists, people who had worked on Iraqi issues or Iraq WMD for years, they said to me, ‘I always knew we didn't have anything.’ This was before the war. But I mean, it was sort of horrific to me. ... I talked to analysts and I talked to WMD experts, and I said, ‘Okay, is there a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq?’ ‘No, there's not a link.’ ‘Do we have evidence of all this WMD we're talking about?’ ‘No, we don't have it.’ And then it was like a snowball, and all of a sudden we were at war. Everybody that I was talking to who did know about the issues were saying we didn't have anything. And of course nobody's speaking up. Who can they speak up to? There's no forum for someone who's involved in operations to talk to anyone and say, ‘We don't have any Iraqi assets, we don't have information on WMD, we don't have anything there.’ But yet we all kind of knew it. ... I understand that it [CIA] serves the President and the administration, but my thought is that it should serve the President and the administration in providing intelligence. And what has happened is that it serves the agenda—or at least for the Bush administration it's serving the agenda of this administration, which is not what the CIA is supposed to do.” [Bamford, 2004, pp 336-337]
          

(2002)

       Vice President Dick Cheney asks that his daily intelligence briefer from the CIA be replaced. An unnamed former CIA official later explains to Vanity Fair magazine: “One briefer annoyed Cheney and he asked that she be replaced. He asked for a new briefer. That sent a chill through the whole process. It sent out the message to the analysts, ‘Be careful with some of this stuff. Be careful what you say.’ ” [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 242-44 Sources: Unnamed former CIA official]
People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

2002-early 2003

       Vice President Dick Cheney, sometimes accompanied by his chief of staff, Lewis Libby, visits the offices of US intelligence analysts working at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia “approximately 10” times. He drills them on their intelligence work on Iraq. Some analysts later complain that Cheney's visits made them feel pressured to provide the administration with conclusions that supported the case for war. Other analysts will say they did not feel pressured. [Guardian, 7/17/03; Sydney Morning Herald, 6/5/03; Bamford, 2004, pp 336; Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 242; Washington Post, 6/5/03] According to Ray McGovern, a 27-year veteran CIA analyst, these visits were “unprecendented.” [McGovern, 7/23/2003] Newt Gingrich also makes visits to CIA headquarters in Langley. [Guardian, 7/17/03]
People and organizations involved: Newt Gingrich, Richard ("Dick") Cheney  Additional Info 
          

2002 and after

       Diplomats working in Britain's Foreign Office are aware that US and British statements concerning Iraq's alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction are “totally implausible.” Carne Ross, a key Foreign Office diplomat, tells the Guardian in mid-2005: “I'd read the intelligence on WMD for four and a half years, and there's no way that it could sustain the case that the government was presenting. All of my colleagues knew that, too.” [Guardian, 6/20/05]
People and organizations involved: British Foreign Office, Carne Ross
          

2002 and after

       Diplomats working in Britain's Foreign Office are aware that US and British statements concerning Iraq's alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction are “totally implausible.” Carne Ross, a key Foreign Office diplomat, tells the Guardian in mid-2005: “I'd read the intelligence on WMD for four and a half years, and there's no way that it could sustain the case that the government was presenting. All of my colleagues knew that, too.” [Guardian, 6/20/05]
People and organizations involved: Carne Ross, British Foreign Office
          

January 2002

       A CIA report on global weapons technology proliferation fails to mention Iraq as a nuclear threat. The report only says, “We believe that Iraq has probably continued at least low-level theoretical R&D [research and development] associated with its nuclear program.” [New Republic, 9/16/2001]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency
          

Early 2002

       Bruce Hardcastle, the Defense Intelligence Agency officer assigned to Bill Luti, provides Luti's office with intelligence briefings. But his reports are not appreciated by Luti or his colleagues, because they do not support neoconservatives' assumptions about Iraq's weapon capabilities and terrorist activities. [Salon, 3/10/04 Sources: Paul O'Neill]
People and organizations involved: William Luti, Bruce Hardcastle
          

(March 2002)

       During a meeting at the White House attended by Condoleezza Rice and a group of Republican and Democratic senators, President Bush, who is not scheduled to be at the meeting, shows up. At some point, the discussion drifts to Iraq and the president says, “F__k Saddam. We're taking him out.” [Time, 5/5/02]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice
          

March 22, 2002

       Peter Ricketts, the British Foreign Office's political director, offers advice to Foreign Secretary Jack Straw who is to provide Tony Blair with a note (see March 25, 2005) before he sets off for a planned meeting with Bush in Texas. In the memo, Ricketts recommends that Blair back the Bush policy on regime change, in a broad sense, because it would allow the British to exert some influence on the exact shape of the administration's policy. “In the process, he can bring home to Bush some of the realities which will be less evident from Washington,” he says. “He can help Bush make good decisions by telling him things his own machine probably isn't.” But he acknowledges that the British, in backing US plans against Iraq, may have a difficult time convincing Parliament and the British public to support the use of military force against Iraq because of scant evidence supporting Washington's allegations against Iraq. “The truth is that what has changed is not the pace of Saddam Hussein's WMD programs, but our tolerance of them post-11 September.” He adds that the “figures” being used in a dossier on Iraq that Downing Street is drafting needs more work in order for it to be “consistent with those of the US.” He explains: “[E]ven the best survey of Iraq's WMD programs will not show much advance in recent years on the nuclear, missile, or chemical weapons/biological weapons fronts: the programs are extremely worrying but have not, as far as we know, been stepped up.” He also says the US has little evidence to support its other allegation. “US scrambling to establish a link between Iraq and al-Qaeda is so far frankly unconvincing,” he says. [Guardian, 4/21/05; Los Angeles Times, 6/15/2005; Daily Telegraph, 3/21/05 Sources: Memo from Peter Ricketts to Jack Straw, 3/22/2002]
People and organizations involved: Peter Ricketts, Tony Blair, Jack Straw
          

April 21-22, 2002

       Jose Bustani is removed from his position as director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons during an unusual special session that had been called by the US. Bolton and others in the State Department's arms-control bureau have been pressuring Bustani to resign since February (see March 2002; February 28, 2002; January 2002). They are upset about the OPCW chief's efforts to involve the organization in the evolving dispute between the US and Iraq over the latter's alleged arsenal of illicit weapons ; Between January 20, 2001 and June 2001). Only 113 nations of the organization's 145 members are represented at the meeting. Of those, 15 are not eligible to vote because of outstanding membership fees. [New York Times, 7/26/2002; Associated Press, 6/5/2005] Some of the delegates, according to the Guardian, may have been paid by the US to attend. And one of the member-states, Micronesia, gave permission to the US to vote on their behalf. [Guardian, 4/23/2002] Before the vote, Bustani denounces the Bush administration's allegations and tells the delegates that they must decide whether genuine multilateralism “will be replaced by unilateralism in a multilateral disguise.” [Sources: Statement by Jose Bustani, 4/21/2002] But the US delegation, intent on seeing that Bustani is removed, threatens to withhold US dues—22 percent of the organization's $60 million annual budget—if Bustani remains in office. A US refusal to pay its dues would likely force the organization to close. [BBC, 4/22/2002; New York Times, 7/26/2002; Associated Press, 6/5/2005] Bustani told a reporter the week before, “The Europeans are so afraid that the US will abandon the convention that they are prepared to sacrifice my post to keep it on board.” [Guardian, 4/16/2002] Only forty-eight members—less than one-third of the total membership—vote in favor of removing Bustani. But the no-confidence vote is nonetheless successful because 43 of the delegates abstain. Only seven votes are cast in opposition. [US Department of State (Vote Tally), 2002; Associated Press, 6/5/2005]
People and organizations involved: Bush administration, Jose M. Bustani
          

Summer 2002

       Reporter and author Ron Suskind meets with a unnamed senior adviser to Bush, who complains to Suskind about an article he recently wrote in Esquire magazine about Bush's communications director, Karen Hughes. In spite of his displeasure, the senior advisor says, boastfully: Guys like you are “in what we call the reality-based community”—people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality. That's not the way the world really works anymore. We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” [The New York Times Magazine, 10/17/04]
People and organizations involved: Karen Hughes, Ron Suskind
          

June 26, 2002

       Entifadh Qunbar, a lobbyist for the Iraqi National Congress (INC), sends a memo to the staff of the Senate Appropriations Committee, in which he provides information about a State Department-funded intelligence program, known as the “information-collection program,” run by the INC. Qunbar, who says he is the overall manager of the group, states in the memo that under the program, “defectors, reports and raw intelligence are cultivated and analyzed,” and “the results are reported through the INC newspaper (Al Mutamar), the Arabic and Western media and to appropriate governmental, nongovernmental and international agencies.” Information is also passed on to William Luti, who will later run the Office of Special Plans (see September 2002), and John Hannah, a senior national-security aide on Cheney's staff, who Qunbar describes as the “principal point of contact.” [Newsweek, 12/15/03; New York Times, 2/12/04 Sources: Memo] The memo provides a description of some of the people involved in the group and their activities. It says that the analytical group includes five analysts with a background in Iraq's military, Iraq's intelligence services and human rights. One person, a consultant, monitors the Iraqi government's alleged efforts to develop banned weapons. The five analysts process information and write reports, which are sent to Al Mutamar, the INC's newspaper, as well as the US government and many mainstream news organizations. Qunbar says that the information-collection program issued 30 reports between August 2001 and June 2002, which were sent to Al Mutamar. According to the memo, the group published 28 private reports in collaboration with the INC's headquarters in London. The memo reveals that between October 2001 and May 2002, information provided by the INC was cited in 108 articles published by a variety of English-language news publications, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, the New Yorker, CNN, Fox News, and several others. [New Yorker, 6/7/2004; New York Times, 2/12/04 Sources: Memo]
People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Entifadh Qanbar, Memo, Iraqi National Congress
          

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 FBI briefers 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]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, Paul Wolfowitz, Mohamed Atta, Pasquale D'Amuro
          

September 2002

       Representatives from the Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, National Imagery and Mapping Agency, the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research and the Energy Department's intelligence agency meet to discuss the draft of the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, which will be published the following month (see October 1, 2002). Representing the DOE's intelligence service is Thomas Ryder, who is temporarily filling in as the office's acting director. Significantly, Ryder is a “human resources guy” with no intelligence background. “Ryder is not an intelligence guy by any stretch of the imagination,” a DOE source will later explain to World Net Daily. “He [has] ... no intel background whatsoever. He [works] on all the personnel stuff—paperwork for promotions, hiring contractors, stuff like that.” At the meeting, Ryder is supposed to represent the position of the DOE's scientists and intelligence officers, who believe that Iraq has not reconstituted its nuclear weapons program. Scientists in the Energy Department as well as officers in the department's intelligence office want to join the INR in its dissenting vote. One official will later explain to World Net Daily, “Senior folks in the office wanted to join INR on the footnote, and even wanted to write it with them, so the footnote would have read, ‘Energy and INR.’ ” [New York Times, 10/3/2004; World Net Daily, 8/12/03 Sources: Unnamed US official] Instead Ryder will side with the other intelligence agencies who claim that Iraq has reconstituted its nuclear weapons program. An official later tells World Net Daily that when Ryder and his staff were arguing over Iraq's alleged program during a pre-brief, Ryder told them to “shut up and sit down.” [World Net Daily, 8/12/03 Sources: Unnamed US official] When the voting takes place, Ryder does not sign his department onto the State Department's dissenting opinion. As a result, the final vote is a near unanimous 5-1. “Time comes for the Iraq NIE, and instead of being hard-charging and proactive and pulling everybody together, he just didn't know what to do,” one source later says. “He wasn't a strong advocate. He just didn't have the background. He didn't have the gravitas.” The Department of Energy's position on the issue is considered very important. “Energy's vote on the nuclear allegation was critical, because the department is viewed as the final arbiter of technical disputes regarding nuclear-proliferation issues,” World Net Daily will note. [World Net Daily, 8/12/03; World Net Daily, 8/12/03 Sources: Unnamed US official] While serving in the temporary DOE position, Ryder, who is said to be close to Secretary Spencer Abraham, receives bonuses totaling $20,500. Energy insiders will say they cannot remember a previous instance where an intelligence chief had been provided with such a large bonus. “That's a hell of a lot of money for an intelligence director who had no experience or background in intelligence, and who'd only been running the office for nine months,” one official says. “Something's fishy.” [World Net Daily, 8/12/03]
People and organizations involved: Thomas S. Ryder, Spencer Abraham, Bureau of Intelligence and Research  Additional Info 
          

September 2002

       The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) issues an 80-plus-page classified report titled, “Iraq: Key Weapons Facilities—An Operational Support Study,” concluding that there is “no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons.” [Bloomberg News, 6/6/03; Reuters, 6/6/03; US News and World Report, 6/9/03 Sources: Iraq: Key Weapons Facilities—An Operational Support Study] When this is reported in the press in June 2003, Michael Anton, a spokesman with the National Security Council, immediately denies that the report suggested the administration had misrepresented intelligence. “The entire report paints a different picture than the selective quotes would lead you to believe. The entire report is consistent with [sic] the president was saying at the time,” he claims. [Fox News, 6/6/03] But two Pentagon officials confirm to Fox News that according to the report, the Defense Intelligence Agency indeed had no hard evidence of Iraqi chemical weapons. [Fox News, 6/6/03]
People and organizations involved: Defense Intelligence Agency  Additional Info 
          

September 2002

       Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, adamant hawks, rename the Northern Gulf Affairs Office on the Pentagon's fourth floor (in the seventh corridor of D Ring) the “Office of Special Plans” (OSP) and increase its four-person staff to sixteen. [Mother Jones, 1/04; Tom Paine [.com], 8/27/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; American Conservative, 12/1/03; New Yorker, 5/5/03; Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02; Knight Ridder Newspapers, 8/16/02 Sources: Unnamed administration official, Karen Kwiatkowski, Greg Thielmann] William Luti, a former navy officer and ex-aide to Vice President Cheney, is put in charge of the day-to-day operations. [Guardian, 7/17/03; Mother Jones, 1/04] The Office of Special Plans is staffed with a tight group of like-minded neoconservative ideologues, who are known advocates of regime change in Iraq. Notably, the staffers have little background in intelligence or Iraqi history and culture. [American Conservative, 12/1/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; Salon, 7/16/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: A Pentagon adviser, Karen Kwiatkowski, Greg Thielmann] Some of the people associated with this office were earlier involved with the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group, also known as the “Wurmser-Maloof” project (see Shortly after September 11, 2001). They hire “scores of temporary ‘consultants’ ... including like-minded lawyers, congressional staffers, and policy wonks from the numerous rightwing think-tanks in the US capital.” Neoconservative ideologues, like Richard Perle and Newt Gingrich, are afforded direct input into the Office of Special Plans. [Guardian, 7/17/03; Mother Jones, 1/04] The office works alongside the Near East and South Asia (NESA) bureau, also under the authority of Douglas Feith [Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski] The official business of Special Plans is to help plan for post-Saddam Iraq. The office's staff members presumably “develop defense policies aimed at building an international coalition, prepare the secretary of defense and his top deputies for interagency meetings, coordinate troop-deployment orders, craft policies for dealing with prisoners of war and illegal combatants, postwar assistance and reconstruction policy planning, postwar governance, Iraqi oil infrastructure policy, postwar Iraqi property disputes, war crimes and atrocities, war-plan review and, in their spare time, prepare congressional testimony for their principals.” [Insight, 12/2/03] But according to numerous well-placed sources, the office becomes a source for many of the administration's prewar allegations against Iraq. It is accused of exaggerating, politicizing, and misrepresenting intelligence, which is “stovepiped” to top administration officials who use the intelligence in their policy decisions on Iraq. [Telegraph, 7/11/04; Mother Jones, 1/04; CNN, 7/11/04; Tom Paine [.com], 8/27/03; Knight Ridder Newspapers, 8/16/02; Los Angeles Times, 11/24/02; American Conservative, 12/1/03; New Yorker, 5/5/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski, Greg Thielmann, Unnamed administration official] There are very few news reports in the American mainstream media that report on the office. In fact, the office is reportedly Top Secret. [Bamford, 2004, pp 308] “We were instructed at a staff meeting that this office was not to be discussed or explained,” OSP staffer Karen Kwiatkowski will later say, “and if people in the Joint Staff, among others, asked, we were to offer no comment.” [American Conservative, 12/1/03] Colin Powell is said to have felt that Cheney and the neoconservatives in this “Gestapo” office had established what was essentially a separate government. [Woodward, 2004 cited in Washington Post 1/18/04 Sources: Top officials interviewed by Washington Post editor Bob Woodward] Among the claims critics find most troubling about the office are:
The office relies heavily on accounts from Iraqi exiles and defectors associated with Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress (INC), long considered suspect by other US intelligence agencies. [Salon, 7/16/03; Guardian, 7/17/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; New Yorker, 5/5/03; Mother Jones, 1/04; Independent, 9/30/03 Sources: Unnamed administration official, Greg Thielmann]
One defector in particular, code-named “Curveball,” provides as much as 98 percent of the intelligence on Iraq's alleged arsenal of biological weapons. [CNN, 7/11/04] Much of the information provided by the INC's sources consists of “misleading and often faked intelligence reports,” which often flow to Special Plans and NESA directly, “sometimes through Defense Intelligence Agency debriefings of Iraqi defectors via the Defense Human Intelligence Service and sometimes through the INC's own US-funded Intelligence Collection Program, which was overseen by the Pentagon.” [Mother Jones, 1/04] According to Karen Kwiatkowski, the movement of intelligence from the INC to the Office of Special Plans is facilitated by Colonel Bruner, a former military aide to Gingrich. [Salon, 3/10/04; Mother Jones, 1/04; Newsweek, 12/15/03 Sources: Memo, Karen Kwiatkowski] Bruner “was Chalabi's handler,” Kwiatkowski will tell Mother Jones. “He would arrange meetings with Chalabi and Chalabi's folks.” [Mother Jones, 1/04 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski]
The Office of Special Plans purposefully ignores intelligence that undermines the case for war while exaggerating any leads that support it. “It wasn't intelligence,—it was propaganda,” Karen Kwiatkowski, who worked at the NESA desk, will later explain. “They'd take a little bit of intelligence, cherry-pick it, make it sound much more exciting, usually by taking it out of context, often by juxtaposition of two pieces of information that don't belong together.” [New Yorker, 5/5/03; New York Times, 10/24/02; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; Guardian, 7/17/03; Salon, 7/16/03; Mother Jones, 1/04; Independent, 9/30/03 Sources: Ellen Tauscher, Greg Thielmann, Unnamed former intelligence official]

The OSP bypasses established oversight procedures by sending its intelligence assessments directly to the White House and National Security Council without having them first vetted by a review process involving other US intelligence agencies. [Guardian, 7/17/03; Salon, 7/16/03; Mother Jones, 1/04; New Yorker, 5/5/03 Sources: Unnamed senior officer who left the Pentagon during the planning of the Iraq war, David Obey, Greg Thielmann]
The people at Special Plans are so successful at bypassing conventional procedures, in part, because their neoconservative colleagues hold key positions in several other agencies and offices. Their contacts in other agencies include: John Bolton, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International; Bolton's advisor, David Wurmser, a former research fellow on the Middle East at the American Enterprise Institute, who was just recently working in a secret Pentagon planning unit at Douglas Feith's office (see Shortly after September 11, 2001); Elizabeth Cheney, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs; Stephen Hadley, the deputy national security adviser; Elliott Abrams, The National Security Council's top Middle East aide; and Richard Perle, Newt Gingrich, James Woolsey and Kenneth Adelman of the Defense Policy Board. The office provides very little information about its work to other US intelligence offices. [Salon, 7/16/03; Inter Press Service, 8/7/03; Guardian, 7/17/03 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski, Unnamed An unnamed senior officer who left the Pentagon during the planning of the Iraq war, Greg Thielmann, David Obey]
Lastly, the people involved in Special Plans openly exhibit strong pro-Israel and anti-Arab bias. The problem, note critics, is that the analysis of intelligence is supposed to be apolitical and untainted by ideological viewpoints. [American Conservative, 12/1/03 Sources: Karen Kwiatkowski]
According to a CIA intelligence official and four members of the Senate's Intelligence Committee, Special Plans is the group responsible for the claim Bush will make in his 2003 State of the Union address that Iraq had attempted to procure uranium from an African country (see January 28, 2003). [Information Clearing House, 7/16/03; The Nation, 6/19/03] After the existence of the Office of Special Plans is revealed to the public, the Pentagon will deny that it served as a direct conduit to the White House for misleading intelligence, instead claiming that its activities had been limited to postwar plans for Iraq. [New Yorker, 5/5/03] And a December 2003 opinion piece published in Insight magazine will call the allegations surrounding the Office of Special Plans the work of conspiracy theorists. [Insight, 12/2/03]
People and organizations involved: Colonel Bruner, James Woolsey, Newt Gingrich, Kenneth Adelman, Colin Powell, Richard Perle, Elliott Abrams, Stephen Hadley, Karen Kwiatkowski, Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, Abram Shulsky, David Wurmser, Elizabeth Cheney  Additional Info 
          

September 7, 2002

       During a joint press conference with US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the two leaders make 2 false and misleading statements, which are quickly contested by experts.
Tony Blair states, “We only need to look at the report from the International Atomic Agency [IAEA] this morning showing what has been going on at the former nuclear weapons sites to realize that” Saddam is a real threat. [White House, 9/7/02]
But no such report exists. [Washington Times, 9/27/02] What Blair is actually referring to is a set of commercial satellite photographs showing signs of new construction at a site the US had bombed in 1998. [Associated Press, 9/10/02; MSNBC 9/7/02; Guardian 9/9/02] That same day, Mark Gwozdecky, a spokesman for the UN agency, says the agency had drawn no conclusion from those photographs. [MSNBC 9/7/02] On September 9, the Guardian of London will report that according to “a well-placed source” the photographs do not support Blair's statement. “You cannot draw any conclusions,” the source explains. “The satellites were only looking at the top of a roof. You cannot tell without inspectors on the ground.” [Guardian, 9/9/02] [Guardian, 9/9/02] The following day, Hans Blix, head of UNMOVIC, will similarly tell reporters: “... satellites don't see through roofs. So we are not drawing conclusions from them. But it would be an important element in where, maybe, we want to go to inspect and monitor.” [Associated Press, 9/10/02; The Globe and Mail, 9/11/02]
Bush asserts, “I would remind you that when the inspectors first went into Iraq and were denied—finally denied access [in 1998], a report came out of the Atomic—the IAEA that they were six months away from developing a weapon,” adding, “I don't know what more evidence we need.” [Washington Times, 9/27/02; White House, 9/7/02]
But Bush's statement is quickly refuted by an MSNBC news report published later that day, which includes an excerpt from the summary of the 1998 IAEA report Bush cited. The summary reads, “[B]ased on all credible information available to date ... the IAEA has found no indication of Iraq having achieved its program goal of producing nuclear weapons or of Iraq having retained a physical capability for the production of weapon-useable nuclear material or having clandestinely obtained such material.” [MSNBC 9/7/02] The text of the actual report, authored by IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei, reads: “There are no indications that there remains in Iraq any physical capability for the production of weapon-usable nuclear material of any practical significance.” [Washington Times, 9/27/02] When confronted by MSNBC reporters on this point, an unnamed senior White House official states, “What happened was, we formed our own conclusions based on the report.” [MSNBC 9/7/02] Later, when The Washington Times presses Deputy Press Secretary Scott McClellan for an explanation, he says, “[Bush is] referring to 1991 there. In '91, there was a report saying that after the war they found out they were about six months away.” But this too is challenged by Mr. Gwozdecky, spokesman for the UN agency, who says that no such report was ever published by the IAEA in 1991. Apparently the President's accusations are based on two news articles that were published more than a decade ago— “a July 16 [2001] story in the London Times by Michael Evans and a July 18 [2001] story in the New York Times by Paul Lewis.” But as The Washington Times notes, “Neither article cites an IAEA report on Iraq's nuclear-weapons program or states that Saddam was only six months away from ‘developing a weapon’ —as claimed by Mr. Bush.” Instead the two news articles reported that at that time, UN inspectors had concluded that Iraq was only six months away from the large-scale production of enriched uranium. But as the 1998 report shows, both 1991 news stories are outdated. [Washington Times, 9/27/02]
People and organizations involved: Tony Blair, Mark Gwozdecky, Mohamed ElBaradei, Scott McClellan, George W. Bush
          

September 23, 2002

       British education secretary Estelle Morris asks during a cabinet meeting what specifically has changed over the last few years—other than President George Bush's coming to office—that makes military action against Iraq necessary. [Sunday Times, 10/5/03; Guardian, 10/6/03]
People and organizations involved: Estelle Morris
          

September 24, 2002

       George Tenet briefs the Senate Intelligence Committee on the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq (see October 1, 2002). In his summary of the document, he includes the allegation that Iraq attempted to obtain uranium from Niger. He mentions that there are some doubts about the reliability of the evidence, but he does not say that the CIA had sent former diplomat Joseph C. Wilson as an envoy to Niger in February (see February 21, 2002-March 4, 2002) and that the former ambassador's conclusion had been that the claims were “bogus.” [The Washington Post, 6/12/03; ABC News, 6/16/03]
People and organizations involved: Joseph C. Wilson, George Tenet
          

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; New York Times, 10/3/2004]
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: Stuart Cohen, US intelligence and congressional sources, 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. [Washington Post, 7/19/03; US Government, 10/02 Sources: Wissam al-Zahawie]

Iraqi attempts to obtain aluminum tubes - The document provides a very misleading assessment of the tubes case. For instance, it includes a chart which compares the dimensions of the aluminum tubes sought by Iraq with those that would be needed for a “Zippe-type” centrifuge. The comparison makes the two tubes appear similar. However, the chart fails to note that the aluminum tubes are an exact match to those used in Iraq's 81-millimeter rocket. The estimate also claims that the tubes are not suitable for rockets. The assertion ignores the fact that similar tubes are used in rockets from several countries, including the United States. [New York Times, 10/3/2004]
In addition to the assessment's misleading statements about the tubes, there are interesting differences between the classified and declassified versions of the NIE with regard to the 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.” [Washington Post, 7/19/03; US Government, 10/02; 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 Ryder, 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. [Knight Ridder, 2/10/04; Knight Ridder, 2/10/04; US Government, 10/02; Washington Post, 7/19/03 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.” [Washington Post, 2/7/03; Knight Ridder, 2/10/04]
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.” [Washington Post, 9/26/03; Associated Press, 8/24/03; 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?” [Washington Post, 9/26/03; Associated Press, 8/24/03 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 militant Islamic groups, 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. [New York Times, 7/19/03; Washington Post, 7/27/03; Washington Post, 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] The official's account, will in fact be confirmed by Rice herself, who reportedly tells Gwen Ifill at the National Association of Black Journalists Convention in Dallas on August 7, 2003: “I did read everything that the CIA produced for the president on weapons of mass destruction. I read the National Intelligence Estimate cover to cover a couple of times. I read the reports; I was briefed on the reports. This is—after 20 years, as somebody who has read a lot of intelligence reports—this is one of the strongest cases about weapons of mass destruction that I had ever read..” [Gwenn Ifill, 8/7/2003 cited in Daily Howler, 8/11/2003] 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] A Senate Intelligence Committee investigation will determine in July 2004 that “Most of the major key judgments in the Intelligence Community's October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), Iraq's Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction, either overstated, or were not supported by, the underlying intelligence reporting.” [Sources: Senate Intelligence Report on Iraq, 7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Bureau of Intelligence and Research, US Congress, George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Bob Graham, Stuart Cohen, Bob Boyd  Additional Info 
          

October 2002

       Vincent Cannistraro, the CIA's former head of counterintelligence, says, “Basically, cooked information is working its way into high-level pronouncements and there's a lot of unhappiness about it in intelligence, especially among analysts at the CIA.” [Sydney Morning Herald, 10/10/02]
People and organizations involved: Vincent Cannistraro
          

(8:00pm) October 1, 2002

       The CIA delivers the classified version of its 90-page National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq (see October 1, 2002) to Congress. It is available for viewing by Congresspersons under tight security in the offices of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees. Congress asks the CIA for a declassified version so that the members have something they can refer to during their debates on the Iraq war resolution. [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 281; Washington Post, 6/22/2003]
People and organizations involved: US Congress, Central Intelligence Agency
          

October 4, 2002

       The CIA releases a 25-page declassified version of its October 1 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq and posts it on the agency's website for public viewing. [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 281; Washington Post, 6/22/2003] But the public version presents a very different assessment of the threat posed by Iraq than the original document (see October 1, 2002).
          

Before October 7, 2002

       During the trial of Jordanian-born 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 ....” [BBC, 2/5/03; Washington Post, 6/22/03; US Department of State, 2/5/02 Sources: Unnamed US intelligence sources]
People and organizations involved: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Shadi Abdallah  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.” [Washington Post, 9/19/02; San Francisco Chronicle, 10/12/02; Guardian, 10/9/02; Institute for Science and International Security, 10/9/03] 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 1950s) 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 Hamza, 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, 2004). A Defense Intelligence Agency report in February 2002 (see February 2002) had also expressed doubt in the claim, going so far as to suggest that al-Libi was “intentionally misleading [his] debriefers.” [CNN, 9/26/02; Newsweek, 7/5/2004; The New York Times, 7/31/2004; New York Times, 11/6/2005 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. [San Francisco Chronicle, 10/12/02; Newsday, 10/10/02; 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.” [Knight Ridder Newspapers, 10/7/02; White House, 10/7/02 Sources: Umnamed US intelligence officials]

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

December 2002

       A former senior official tells investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, “If it became known that [Rumsfeld] wanted [the Defense Intelligence Agency] to link the government of Tonga to 9/11, within a few months they would come up with sources who'd do it.” [New Yorker, 12/16/02]
          

December 2002

       CIA Director George Tenet and his deputy John McLaughlin meet in the White House with President George Bush and Bush's top advisors for a “dress rehearsal” ahead of a public presentation that will accuse Iraq of having weapons of mass destruction. According to Bob Woodward's book, Plan of Attack, Bush is disappointed with Tenet and McLauglin's presentation, which is based on communications intercepts, satellite photos, diagrams, and other intelligence. “Nice try,” Woodward's source will later recall Bush saying. “I don't think this quite—it's not something that Joe Public would understand or would gain a lot of confidence from.” Bush reportedly says to Tenet. “I've been told all this intelligence about having WMD, and this is the best we've got?” Tenet responds, “It's a slam dunk case.” Woodward's book will say that Bush then asked, “George, how confident are you?” To which the intelligence head responded, “Don't worry, it's a slam dunk.” [Woodward, 2004 cited in Washington Post 4/17/04 Sources: Top officials interviewed by Washington Post editor Bob Woodward]
People and organizations involved: George Tenet, George W. Bush, John E. McLaughlin
          

End of December 2002

       After examining more than 200 sites, UN weapons inspectors say that despite unfettered access to all Iraqi facilities, they have found no evidence of weapons of mass destruction or any programs aimed at developing such weapons. Several of the suspected weapons sites have been visited multiple times. Inspectors say that they have exhausted the leads provided by US intelligence and complain that Washington resists requests to provide them with more information. The San Francisco Chronicle reports: “UN spokesmen in Baghdad admit they have largely exhausted their list of possible weapons sites and must make repeat visits to stay busy. They have asked the United States to provide intelligence to help identify new sites. Although the Bush administration recently said it would share some secrets with the United Nations, it appears to have turned over little so far.” [Guardian, 1/3/02; New Zealand Herald, 1/1/03; Independent, 1/1/03; BBC, 12/31/01; Los Angeles Times, 12/31/01; Agence France Presse, 12/30/02; San Francisco Chronicle, 12/30/02] And an unnamed weapons inspector tells the Los Angeles Times: “We haven't found an iota of concealed material yet. Even private facilities which are not part of their state-run military industrial complex open up for us—like magic. ... We can't look for something which we don't know about. If the United States wants us to find something, they should open their intelligence file and share it with us so that we know where to go for it. .... By being silent, we may create the false illusion that we did uncover something. ... But I must say that if we were to publish a report now, we would have zilch to put in it.” [Guardian, 1/3/02; Los Angeles Times, 12/31/01; BBC, 12/31/01; Independent, 1/1/03; New Zealand Herald, 1/1/03] The London Observer will report in early January, “Some of the inspectors are understood to be convinced that their mission has become a ‘set-up job’ and America will attack Iraq regardless of what they find.” [Observer, 1/5/02]
          

December 5, 2002

       Demetrius Perricos, the Greek head of the team searching Iraq for chemical and biological weapons, criticizes Washington's efforts to influence the inspections. He says: “The people who sent us here are the international community, the United Nations. We're not serving the US. We're not serving the UK. We're not serving any individual nation.” He also questions why the Bush administration is refusing to share its intelligence with the inspectors. He explains: “What we're getting and what President Bush may be getting is very different, to put it mildly.” [Times of London, 12/6/02]
People and organizations involved: Demetrius Perricos
          

December 19, 2002

       The State Department publishes a fact sheet titled “Illustrative Examples of Omissions From the Iraqi Declaration to the United Nations Security Council,” which states that in its December 2002 declaration (see December 7, 2002) to the UN, Iraq “ignores [its] efforts to procure uranium from Niger.” [US Department of State, 12/19/03; Associated Press, 6/12/03; Associated Press, 7/14/03] But at this time, there is no evidence that Iraq had in fact sought to obtain uranium from Niger. Prior to the fact sheet's publication, the CIA had warned the State Department about this and recommended that the phrase be removed—advice the State Department chose to ignore. [Associated Press, 6/12/03 Sources: Greg Thielmann]
          

December 19, 2002

       A senior British security source suggests to the London Independent that US officials are “talking up” the evidence they say they have against Iraq. “We know [of] material which is unaccounted for,” says the source. “But we have not got a definite site, a grid reference, where we can say Saddam is hiding it. If the US administration does indeed have that kind of specifics, it has not been passed on to us. The main problem is known to us all. After all, it was Paul Wolfowitz the hawkish deputy US Defense Secretary who said, ‘Iraq isn't a country where we've had human intelligence for years.’ ” [Independent, 12/20/02 Sources: Unnamed senior source]
          

December 20, 2002

       UNMOVIC chief weapons inspector Hans Blix criticizes the US and British governments for failing to provide inspectors with the intelligence they need to locate Iraq's alleged arsenal of banned weapons. Blix states, “If the UK and the US are convinced and they say they have evidence, then one would expect they would be able to tell us where is this stuff.” When asked if he is receiving enough cooperation from Western intelligence agencies, he answers, “Not yet. We get some, but we don't get all we need.” In response, US and British intelligence claim they will provide UN inspectors with higher quality intelligence. One official tells the New York Times, “We are going to give them one piece of information at a time, given strategically at the right moment.” Another official explains that the reason for this is because, “Based on our historical experience with UNSCOM, they had a very difficult time keeping information from falling into Iraqi hands.” [New, York Times 12/21/2002; Independent, 12/21/02; Independent, 12/22/02 Sources: Unnamed administration officials]
People and organizations involved: Hans Blix
          

Early January 2003

       The CIA issues an updated version of its September 2002 classified internal report (see September 2002) which stated that according to “sources of varying reliability,” Iraq had provided “training in poisons and gases” to al-Qaeda operatives. The allegation in that report was based on information provided by a captured Libyan national by the name of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi. In this new updated version of the report, the CIA adds that “the detainee [al-Libi] was not in a position to know if any training had taken place.” It is not known whether this report is seen by White House officials. [Newsweek, 11/10/2005]
People and organizations involved: Central Intelligence Agency, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi
          

January 2003-March 17, 2003

       The CIA provides Centcom with intelligence for the purpose of planning targets in Iraq. But Centcom sources later tell Newsweek the intelligence was extremely poor. It “was crap,” a Centcom planner later tells Newsweek. Another source tells the magazine that the sites the agency suggests for targeting are for the most part the same ones that were bombed during the First Gulf War. While the CIA has satellite photos of the buildings to be targeted, it turns out they know little about them. “What was inside the structures was another matter,” says the source. “We asked, ‘Well, what agents are in these buildings? Because we need to know.’ And the answer was, ‘We don't know.’ ” [Newsweek, 6/9/03 Sources: Unnamed Centcom planner]
          

January 2003

       An unnamed CIA case officer with the agency's Directorate of Operations (DO) will later say that during a January 2003 weekly office meeting, his or her boss told about fifty CIA employees: “You know what—if Bush wants to go to war, it's your job to give him a reason to do so.” The case officer later explains to national security expert James Bamford how he felt upon hearing those instructions. “And I said, ‘All right, it's time, it's time to go.’ I remember, when it happened I looked around and I said, ‘This is awful.’ He said it at the weekly office meeting. And I just remember saying, ‘This is something that the American public, if they ever heard, if they ever knew, they would be outraged.’ The fact that we're sitting in the meeting and we're not outraged at this, and we can't do anything—it was just against every moral fiber of my being. He said, ‘If President Bush wants to go to war, ladies and gentlemen, your job's to give him a reason to do so.’ He said it to about fifty people. And it's funny because everyone still talks about that—‘Remember when [he] said that.’” [Bamford, 2004, pp 333-334] Another DO case officer later says of the meeting: “The fact that someone could say that in the agency and get away with it is just disgusting. He said that to his full staff. I can't believe that someone would say that openly and get away with it. But there was a lot of that. ... And for me that was the final straw. It was criminal the way we were implicitly deceiving people. ... You know, what I heard from everyone was that this had been planned for a long time.” [Bamford, 2004, pp 337]
          

Early 2003

       The US Defense Intelligence Agency [DIA] concludes early in 2003 that the intelligence being provided by dissidents supplied by the Iraqi National Congress is of little value. The New York Times reports that an internal DIA study has found that “dissidents invented or exaggerated their credentials as people with direct knowledge of the Iraqi government and its suspected unconventional weapons program.” [New York Times, 9/29/03; Independent, 9/30/03 Sources: Unnamed US officials] Unnamed officials interviewed by the Times say the defectors have been considered by the Defense Intelligence Agency to be dubious sources from the start. It is believed that the dissidents' motivation for talking has been money and their opposition to Saddam Hussein. The Times' sources say “they would not speculate on whether the defectors had knowingly provided false information and, if so, what their motivation might have been.” [New York Times, 9/29/03; Independent, 9/30/03 Sources: Unnamed US officials] The document reveals that more than $1 million was paid to Chalabi's group for information about Saddam Hussein's alleged banned weapons programs. [Independent, 9/30/03; New York Times, 9/29/03 Sources: Unnamed US officials]
People and organizations involved: Ahmed Chalabi, Iraqi National Congress
          

January 27, 2003

       The CIA's Berlin station chief warns CIA headquarters that information on the alleged mobile biological units supplied by Iraqi defector “Curveball” should not be used in Bush's state of the union speech. The station chief explains that the German intelligence service does not consider Curveball a reliable source and that it has been unable to confirm the defector's statements. [Washington Post, 5/21/2005]
          

January 28, 2003

       Bush gives his State of the Union address, making several false allegations about Iraq. [US President, 1/28/03]
He says, “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities.... He clearly has much to hide.” [US President, 1/28/03; Independent, 6/5/03; White House website]
The British allegation cited by Bush concerns a SISMI (Italy's military intelligence) report (see (Mid-October 2001)) based on a set of forged documents. Months after the speech, with evidence mounting that the statement was completely false, the administration will retract this claim (see July 11, 2003). [Independent, 8/10/03a Sources: Wissam al-Zahawie]
Bush alleges that a shipment of aluminum tubes imported by Iraq were intended to be used in the country's alleged nuclear weapons program. “Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production. Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide.” [US President, 1/28/03]

Bush accuses Iraq of having enough material “to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax—enough doses to kill several million people ... more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin—enough to subject millions of people to death by respiratory failure ... as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent.” [Washington Post, 1/28/03]

Bush alleges: “Iraqi intelligence officers are posing as the scientists inspectors are supposed to interview. Real scientists have been coached by Iraqi officials on what to say.” [White House, 1/28/03]
But Hans Blix, the chief UNMOVIC weapons inspector, tells the New York Times in an interview that he knows of no evidence supporting that claim. [New York Times, 1/31/03] Bush says, “We know that Iraq, in the late 1990s, had several mobile weapons labs . . . designed to produce germ warfare agents and can be moved from place to a place to evade inspectors,” citing “three Iraqi defectors” as sources of the information. One of the defectors referred to by Bush is “Curveball,” whom the CIA station chief in Germany warned was not reliable the day before (see January 27, 2003). Another source for the claim was Mohammad Harith, whom the Defense Intelligence Agency had labeled a “fabricator” the previous May (see May 2002).
People and organizations involved: Hans Blix, George W. Bush  Additional Info 
          

January 29, 2003

       US Secretary of State Colin Powell gives his chief of staff, Larry Wilkerson, a 48-page report from the White House on Iraq's alleged arsenal of banned weapons. The report is meant to serve as the basis for Powell's upcoming speech to the UN (see 10:30 a.m. February 5, 2003). Powell, skeptical of the report's data, instructs Wilkerson to have it looked over by the CIA. According to a senior official interviewed by James Bamford, the dossier was written primarily by John Hannah. I. Lewis Libby, Hannah's boss, may have also contributed to the report, according to Bamford's source. [Bamford, 2004, pp 368; Vanity Fair, 5/2004] The analysts at CIA will quickly determine that the documents are based on unreliable sources (see January 30, 2003-January 31, 2003).
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell, Lewis ("Scooter") Libby, Larry Wilkerson, John Hannah
          

January 30, 2003-January 31, 2003

       Colin Powell's chief of staff, Larry Wilkerson, meets with other State staffers and CIA analysts at the agency's Langley headquarters in a conference room down the hall from George Tenet's office to review two White House reports on Iraq's alleged illegal activities. The two dossiers are meant to serve as the basis for Powell's upcoming speech at the UN (see 10:30 a.m. February 5, 2003). One of the reports—a 48-page dossier that had been provided to Powell's office a few days earlier (see January 29, 2003) —deals with Iraq's supposed arsenal of weapons of mass destruction while the other, slightly more recent report totaling some 45 pages, addresses the issue of Iraq's history of human rights violations and its alleged ties to militant groups listed by the state department as terrorist organizations. [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 230] Shortly after the CIA analysts begin their review of the documents, the decision is made to scrap them and start from scratch. “They suspect much of it originated with the Iraqi National Congress (INC) and its chief, Ahmed Chalabi,” Vanity Fair magazine will later report. Powell's staff is also “convinced that much of it had been funneled directly to Cheney by a tiny separate intelligence unit set up by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.” [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 230] A senior source later tells US News and World Report that the documents had included “unsubstantiated assertions.” According to several administration officials, Powell's team “tried to follow ... [the] 45-page White House script,” but “there were too many problems—some assertions, for instance, were not supported by solid or adequate sourcing—Indeed, some of the damning information simply could not be proved.” [US News and World Report, 6/9/03 Sources: Unnamed senior source] Similarly, one senior official will later recall: “We went through that for about six-hours—item by item, page by page and about halfway through the day I realized this is idiocy, we cannot possibly do this, because it was all bullsh_t—it was unsourced, a lot of it was just out of the newpapers, it was—and I look back in retrospect—it was a [Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas] Feith product, it was a Scooter Libby product, it was a Vice President's office product. It was a product of collusion between that group. And it had no way of standing up, anywhere, I mean it was nuts.” [Bamford, 2004, pp 368-9] One item in the White House's original draft alleged that Iraq had obtained software from an Australian company that would provide Iraqis with sensitive information about US topography. The hawks' argument was that Iraqis, using that knowledge, could one day attack the US with biological or chemical weapons deployed from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). But when Powell's intelligence team investigated the issue, it became “clear that the information was not ironclad.” (see October 1, 2002) [US News and World Report, 6/9/03 Sources: Unnamed senior source] Summing it up, one official will later explain, “We were so appalled at what had arrived from the White House.” [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 230.]
People and organizations involved: Larry Wilkerson, Ahmed Chalabi, Colin Powell
          

February 1, 2003-February 4, 2003

       On February 1, Secretary of State Colin Powell begins rehearsing for his February 5 presentation to the UN Security Council (see 10:30 a.m. February 5, 2003) in which he will argue that Iraq represents a serious and imminent threat to the US. Powell is assisted by members of his staff, including his chief of staff, Larry Wilkerson, and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. [US News and World Report, 6/9/2003; Bamford, 2004, pp 368-9; Gentlemen's Quarterly (GQ), 4/29/2004] Several members of the White House Iraq Group drop in during the pre-speech sessions, including Condoleezza Rice, Stephen Hadley, and Lewis Libby. George Tenet and his deputy director, John McLaughlin, are also present at times. [Bamford, 2004, pp 369; Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 230] Cheney's staff continues to pressure Powell to include several unsubstantiated and dubious allegations. The allegations that are most contested are the ones dealing with Iraq's alleged ties to terrorism. For example, the group insists that Powell “link Iraq directly to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington” and include the widely discredited allegation (see October 21, 2002) that Mohammed Atta had met in Prague with an Iraqi intelligence officer (see April 8, 2001). [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 230.; US News and World Report, 6/9/2003] But Powell and his staff reject a good portion of the hawks' material. At one point, Powell reportedly says, “I'm not reading this. This is bullsh_t.” [US News and World Report, 6/9/03; Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 230] An official later recalls: “On a number of occasions, ... [Powell] simply said, ‘I'm not using that, I'm not using that, that is not good enough. That's not something that I can support.’ And on each occasion he was fought by the vice president's office in the person of Scooter Libby, by the National Security Advisor [Condoleezza Rice] herself, by her deputy [Steve Hadley], and sometimes by the intelligence people—George [Tenet] and [Deputy CIA Director] John [McLaughlin].” [Bamford, 2004, pp 370] “[W]e fought tooth and nail with other members of the administration to scrub it and get the crap out,” Larry Wilkerson, Powell's Chief of Staff later tells GQ. [Gentlemen's Quarterly (GQ), 4/29/2004] In some instances, material rejected by Powell occasionally reappear in subsequent versions of the speech. “One of the most outrageous ones was the Mohammed Atta meeting in Prague. Steve Hadley on one occasion [put] it back in. We cut it and somehow it got back in. And the secretary said, ‘I thought I cut this?’ And Steve Hadley looked around and said, ‘My fault, Mr. Secretary, I'll put it back in.’ ‘Well, cut it, permanently!’ yelled Powell. It was all cartoon. The specious connection between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, much of which I subsequently found came probably from the INC and from their sources, defectors and so forth, [regarding the] training in Iraq for terrorists. ... No question in my mind that some of the sources that we were using were probably Israeli intelligence. That was one thing that was rarely revealed to us—if it was a foreign source.” [Bamford, 2004, pp 370-1]
People and organizations involved: Stephen Hadley, Larry Wilkerson, Condoleezza Rice, George Tenet, John E. McLaughlin, Richard Armitage, White House Iraq Group, Lewis ("Scooter") Libby, Colin Powell
          

(11:00 p.m.) February 4, 2003

       CIA terrorism specialist Phil Mudd visits Colin Powell's hotel suite at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City to review the terrorism section of the speech Powell will make to the UN the next morning. After Mudd reads the section, he says, “Looks fine.” After leaving the hotel, he will inform George Tenet that Powell's team had trimmed the section on Iraq's alleged ties to militant Islamic groups. [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 230]
People and organizations involved: Phil Mudd, George Tenet
          

Before February 5, 2003

       An unnamed Pentagon analyst warns a top CIA official in an email that one of the allegations Powell is planning to make in his February 5 presentation to the UN is based on intelligence from a single informant of dubious reliability. The analyst—who was the only member of US intelligence to interview the source—said it wasn't even certain if the informant, known as “Curveball,” was “who he said he was.” [Newsweek, 7/19/04] The CIA official quickly responded to the analyst's warning: “Let's keep in mind the fact that this war's going to happen regardless of what Curveball said or didn't say,” he wrote. “The Powers That Be probably aren't terribly interested in whether Curveball knows what he's talking about.” [Newsweek, 7/19/04]
          

2:00 a.m. February 5, 2003

       Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet calls Colin Powell's hotel room at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City. Powell's chief of staff, Larry Wilkerson picks up the phone. Tenet says that he is concerned that too much has been cut from Powell's speech and tells Wilkerson that he wants to take one last look at the final draft. A copy of the speech is quickly sent to Tenet who is staying at another hotel. [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 230-31]
People and organizations involved: George Tenet, Lewis ("Scooter") Libby, Larry Wilkerson
          

(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, Lewis ("Scooter") Libby, Colin Powell
          

10:30 a.m. February 5, 2003

       US Secretary of State Colin Powell presents the Bush administration's case against Saddam to the UN Security Council, in advance of an expected vote on a second resolution that the US and Britain hope will provide the justification to use military force against Iraq. [The White House, 2/6/03] At the insistence of Powell, CIA Director George Tenet is seated directly behind him to the right. “It was theater, a device to signal to the world that Powell was relying on the CIA to make his case that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction,” Vanity Fair magazine will later explain. [Vanity Fair, 5/2004, pg 232; Bamford, 2004, pp 371-2] In his speech before the Council, Powell makes the case that Iraq is in further material breach of past UN resolutions, specifically the most recent one, UN Resolution 1441. Sources cited in Powell's presentation include defectors, informants, communication intercepts, procurement records, photographs, and detainees. [The White House, 2/6/03] Most of the allegations made by Powell are later demonstrated to be false. “The defectors and other sources went unidentified,” the Associated Press will later report. “The audiotapes were uncorroborated, as were the photo interpretations. No other supporting documents were presented. Little was independently verifiable.” [Associated Press, 8/9/03]
Iraq's December 7 declaration was inaccurate - Powell contends that Iraq's December 7 declaration was not complete. According to UN Resolution 1441 the document was supposed to be a “currently accurate, full and complete declaration of all aspects” of its programs to develop weapons of mass destruction. But Saddam has not done this, says Powell, who explains that Iraq has yet to provide sufficient evidence that it destroyed its previously declared stock of 8,500 liters of anthrax, as it claimed in the declaration. Furthermore, notes the secretary of state, UNSCOM inspectors had previously estimated that Iraq possessed the raw materials to produce as much as 25,000 liters of the virus. [Washington Post, 2/6/03d; The White House, 2/6/03; New York Times, 2/5/03]

Iraq has ties to al Qaeda - Powell repeats earlier claims that Saddam Hussein's government has ties to al-Qaeda. Powell focuses on the cases of the militant Islamic group Ansar-al-Islam and Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian-born Palestinian, who had received medical treatment in Baghdad during the summer of 2002 (see Late 2001-May 2002). [The White House, 2/6/03]
However, just days before Powell's speech, US and British intelligence officials—speaking on condition of anonymity—told the press that the administration's allegations of Iraqi-al-Qaeda ties were based on information provided by Kurdish groups, who, as enemies of Ansar-al-Islam, should not be considered reliable. Furthermore, these sources unequivocally stated that intelligence analysts on both sides of the Atlantic remained unconvinced of the purported links between Iraq and al-Qaeda (see February 3-4, 2003). [Daily Telegraph, 2/4/03; Independent, 2/3/03] Powell also claims that Iraq provided “chemical or biological weapons training for two al-Qaeda associates beginning in December 2000.” The claim is based on a September 2002 CIA document which had warned that its sources were of “varying reliability” and that the claim was not 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, 2004). [CNN, 9/26/02; Newsweek, 7/5/04; The New York Times, 7/31/04 Sources: Unnamed administration official] Larry Wilkerson, Powell's chief of staff, will later say that neither he nor Powell ever received “any dissent with respect to those lines � indeed the entire section that now we know came from [al-Libi].” [Newsweek, 11/10/2005] Senior US officials will admit to the New York Times and Washington Post after the presentation that the administration was not claiming that Saddam Hussein is “exercising operational control” of al-Qaeda. [Washington Post, 2/7/03; New York Times, 2/6/03b Sources: Unnamed senior US officials, Unnamed senior US State Department officials]
Iraq has missiles capable of flying up to 1,200 kilometers - Describing a photo of the al-Rafah weapons site, Powell says: “As part of this effort, another little piece of evidence, Iraq has built an engine test stand that is larger than anything it has ever had. Notice the dramatic difference in size between the test stand on the left, the old one, and the new one on the right. Note the large exhaust vent. This is where the flame from the engine comes out. The exhaust vent on the right test stand is five times longer than the one on the left. The one of the left is used for short-range missiles. The one on the right is clearly intended for long-range missiles that can fly 1,200 kilometers. This photograph was taken in April of 2002. Since then, the test stand has been finished and a roof has been put over it so it will be harder for satellites to see what's going on underneath the test stand.” [New York Times, 2/5/03; The White House, 2/6/03]
But according to the Associated Press, “... UN missile experts have reported inspecting al-Rafah at least five times since inspections resumed Nov. 27, have studied the specifications of the new test stand, regularly monitor tests at the installation, and thus far have reported no concerns.” [Associated Press, 2/7/03] Similarly, Reuters quotes Ali Jassem, an Iraqi official, who explains that the large stand referred to in Powell's speech is not yet in operation and that its larger size is due to the fact that it will be testing engines horizontally. [Reuters, 2/7/03; Guardian, 2/15/03] Several days later, Blix will report to the UN that “so far, the test stand has not been associated with a proscribed activity.” [Guardian, 2/15/03b]
Iraqis attempted to hide evidence from inspectors - Powell shows the UN Security Council satellite shots depicting what he claims are chemical weapons bunkers and convoys of Iraqi cargo trucks preparing to transport ballistic missile components from a weapons site just two days before the arrival of inspectors. “We saw this kind of housecleaning at close to 30 sites,” Powell explains. “We must ask ourselves: Why would Iraq suddenly move equipment of this nature before inspections if they were anxious to demonstrate what they had or did not have?” [Washington Post, 2/6/03; The White House, 2/6/03]
But the photos are interpreted differently by others. An unnamed UN official and German UN Inspector Peter Franck say the trucks in the photos are actually fire engines. [Mercury News, 3/18/03; Agence France Presse, 6/6/03] Another series of photos—taken during the spring and summer of 2002—show that Iraqis have removed a layer of topsoil from the al-Musayyib chemical complex. This piece of evidence, combined with information provided by an unnamed source, leads Powell to draw the following conclusion: “The Iraqis literally removed the crust of the earth from large portions of this site in order to conceal chemical weapons evidence that would be there from years of chemical weapons activity.” [The White House, 2/6/03; Washington Post, 2/6/03h] Showing another series of pictures—one taken on November 10 (before inspections) and one taken on December 22—Powell says that a guard station and decontamination truck were removed prior to the arrival of inspectors. Powell does not explain how he knows that the truck in the photograph was a decontamination truck. [Washington Post, 2/6/03h; The White House, 2/6/03; Washington Post, 2/6/03]
Communication intercepts demonstrate Iraqi attempts to conceal information from inspectors - Powell plays recordings of three conversations intercepted by US Intelligence—one on November 26, another on January 30, and a third, a “few weeks” before. The conversations suggest that the Iraqis were attempting to hide evidence from inspectors. [New York Times, 2/5/03; Sydney Morning Herald, 2/7/03; Times, 2/6/03; The White House, 2/6/03]
Senior administration officials concede to The Washington Post that it was not known “what military items were discussed in the intercepts.” [Washington Post, 2/13/03] Some critics argue that the intercepts were presented out of context and open to interpretation. [Sydney Morning Herald, 2/9/03; Sydney Morning Herald, 2/7/03] Others note that the conversations were translated from Arabic by US translators and were not analyzed or verified by an independent specialist. [Newsday, 2/6/03]
Biological weapons factories - Colin Powell says that US intelligence has “firsthand descriptions” that Iraq has 18 mobile biological weapons factories mounted on trucks and railroad cars. Information about the mobile weapons labs are based on the testimonies of four sources—a defected Iraqi chemical engineer who claims to have supervised one of these facilities, an Iraqi civil engineer (see December 20, 2001), a source in “a position to know,” and a defected Iraqi major (see February 11, 2002). Powell says that the mobile units are capable of producing enough dry biological agent in a single month to kill several thousand people. He shows computer-generated diagrams and pictures based on the sources' descriptions of the facilities. Colin Powell says that according to the chemical engineer, during the late 1990s, Iraq's biological weapons scientists would often begin the production of pathogens on Thursday nights and complete the process on Fridays in order to evade UNSCOM inspectors whom Iraq believed would not conduct inspections on the Muslim holy day. [Washington Post 2/5/03d; Reuters, 2/8/02; The White House, 2/6/03; New York Times, 2/5/03]
Responding to the allegation, Iraqi officials will concede that they do in fact have mobile labs, but insist that they are not used for the development of weapons. According to the Iraqis, the mobile labs are used for food analysis for disease outbreaks, mobile field hospitals, a military field bakery, food and medicine refrigeration trucks, a mobile military morgue and mobile ice making trucks. [Guardian, 2/5/03; ABC News, 5/21/03] Iraq's explanation is consistent with earlier assessments of the UN weapons inspectors. Before Powell's presentation, Hans Blix had dismissed suggestions that the Iraqis were using mobile biological weapons labs, reporting that inspections of two alleged mobile labs had turned up nothing. “Two food-testing trucks have been inspected and nothing has been found,” Blix said. And Ewen Buchanan, spokesman for the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, said, “The outline and characteristics of these trucks that we inspected were all consistent with the declared purposes.” [The Guardian, 2/5/03; ABC News, 5/21/03] Powell's case is further damaged when it is later learned that one of the sources Powell cited, the Iraqi major, had been earlier judged unreliable by intelligence agents at the Defense Intelligence Agency (see February 11, 2002). In May 2002, the analysts had issued a “fabricator notice” on the informant, noting that he had been “coached by Iraqi National Congress” (see May 2002). But the main source for the claim had been an Iraqi defector known as “Curveball,” who turned out to be the brother of a top aide to Ahmed Chalabi. The source claimed to be a chemical engineer who had helped design and build the mobile labs. His information was passed to Washington through Germany's intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), which had been introduced to the source by the Iraqi National Congress (INC). In passing along the information, the BND noted that there were “various problems with the source.” And only one member of the US intelligence community had actually met with the person—an unnamed Pentagon analyst who determined the man was an alcoholic and of dubious reliability. Yet both the DIA and the CIA validated the information. [Newsweek, 4/19/04; Newsweek, 7/19/04; Knight Ridder, 3/28/04; Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, 08/22/03; Knight Ridder, 4/4/04 Sources: Unnamed Pentagon analyst, Unnamed current and former US intelligence officials, Unnamed senior US officials, Unnamed senior German security official] In addition to the inspectors' assessments and the dubious nature of the sources Powell cited, there are numerous other problems with the mobile factories claim. Raymond Zilinskas, a microbiologist and former UN weapons inspector, argues that significant amounts of pathogens such as anthrax, could not be produced in the short span of time suggested in Powell's speech. “You normally would require 36 to 48 hours just to do the fermentation .... The short processing time seems suspicious to me.” He also says: “The only reason you would have mobile labs is to avoid inspectors, because everything about them is difficult. We know it is possible to build them—the United States developed mobile production plants, including one designed for an airplane—but it's a big hassle. That's why this strikes me as a bit far-fetched.” [Washington Post, 2/5/03d] After the Powell's speech, Blix will say in his March 7 report to the UN that his inspectors found no evidence of mobile weapons labs (see March 7, 2003). [Blix, 3/7/03; CNN, 3/7/03; Agence France Presse, 3/7/03; UNMOVIC, 3/7/03]
Iraq is developing unmanned drones capable of deliverying weapons of mass destruction - Powell asserts that Iraq has flight-tested an unmanned drone capable of flying up to 310 miles and is working on a liquid-fueled ballistic missile with a range of 745 miles. He plays a video of an Iraqi F-1 Mirage jet dispersing “simulated anthrax.” [New York Times, 2/5/03; Washington Post, 2/5/03f; The White House, 2/6/03]
But the Associated Press will later report that the video was made prior to the 1991 Gulf War. Apparently, three of the four spray tanks shown in the film had been destroyed during the 1991 military intervention. [Associated Press, 8/9/03]
Imported Aluminum tubes were meant for centrifuge - Powell argues that the aluminum tubes which Iraq had attempted to import in July 2001 (see July 2001) were meant to be used in a nuclear weapons program and not for artillery rockets as experts from the US Energy Department, the INR, and the IAEA have been arguing (see February 3, 2003) (see January 11, 2003) (see (Mid-July 2001)-August 17, 2001) (see January 27, 2003). To support the administration's case, he cites unusually precise specifications and high tolerances for heat and stress. “It strikes me as quite odd that these tubes are manufactured to a tolerance that far exceeds US requirements for comparable rockets,” he says. “Maybe Iraqis just manufacture their conventional weapons to a higher standard than we do, but I don't think so.” Powell also suggests that because the tubes were “anodized,” it was unlikely that they had been designed for conventional use. [The White House, 2/6/03; Washington Post, 2/5/03; Washington Post, 3/8/03]
Powell does not mention that numerous US nuclear scientists have dismissed this claim (see (Mid-July 2001)-August 17, 2001) (see September 23, 2002) (see December 2002). [Institute for Science and International Security, 10/9/03] Powell also fails to say that Iraq has rockets identical to the Italian Medusa 81 mm rockets, which are of the same dimensions and made of the same alloy as the 3,000 tubes that were intercepted in July 2001 (see After January 22, 2003). [Washington Post, 8/10/03] This had been reported just two weeks earlier by the Washington Post. [Washington Post, 1/24/03] Moreover, just two days before, Powell was explicitly warned by the US State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research not to cite the aluminum tubes as evidence that Iraq is pursuing nuclear weapons (see February 3, 2003). [Financial Times, 7/29/03]
Iraq attempted to acquire magnets for use in a gas centrifuge program - Powell says: “We ... have intelligence from multiple sources that Iraq is attempting to acquire magnets and high-speed balancing machines. Both items can be used in a gas centrifuge program to enrich uranium. In 1999 and 2000, Iraqi officials negotiated with firms in Romania, India, Russia and Slovenia for the purchase of a magnet production plant. Iraq wanted the plant to produce magnets weighing 20 to 30 grams. That's the same weight as the magnets used in Iraq's gas centrifuge program before the Gulf War.” [The White House, 2/6/03; New York Times, 2/5/03; New York Times, 2/6/03b]
Investigation by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] will demonstrate that the magnets have a dual use. IAEA Director Mohamed ElBaradei said a little more than a week before, on January 27, in his report to the Security Council: “Iraq presented detailed information on a project to construct a facility to produce magnets for the Iraqi missile program, as well as for industrial applications, and that Iraq had prepared a solicitation of offers, but that the project had been delayed due to ‘financial credit arrangements.’ Preliminary investigations indicate that the specifications contained in the offer solicitation are consistent with those required for the declared intended uses. However, the IAEA will continue to investigate the matter ....” (see January 27, 2003) [Sources: Letter dated January, 27 2003 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council] On March 7, ElBaradei will provide an additional update: “The IAEA has verified that previously acquired magnets have been used for missile guidance systems, industrial machinery, electricity meters and field telephones. Through visits to research and production sites, reviews of engineering drawings and analyses of sample magnets, IAEA experts familiar with the use of such magnets in centrifuge enrichment have verified that none of the magnets that Iraq has declared could be used directly for a centrifuge magnetic bearing.” (see March 7, 2003) [CNN, 3/7/03]
Iraq attempted to purchase machines to balance centrifuge rotors - Powell states: “Intercepted communications from mid-2000 through last summer show that Iraq front companies sought to buy machines that can be used to balance gas centrifuge rotors. One of these companies also had been involved in a failed effort in 2001 to smuggle aluminum tubes into Iraq.” [New York Times, 2/6/03b; New York Times, 2/5/03; The White House, 2/6/03]

Powell cites the documents removed from the home of Iraqi scientist Faleh Hassan - Powell cites the documents that had been found on January 16, 2003 by inspectors with the help of US intelligence at the Baghdad home of Faleh Hassan, a nuclear scientist. Powell asserts that the papers are a “dramatic confirmation” that Saddam Hussein is concealing evidence and not cooperating with the inspections. The 3,000 documents contained information relating to the laser enrichment of uranium (see January 16, 2003). [The White House, 2/6/03; Hassan, 1/19/03; Daily Telegraph, 1/18/03; Associated Press, 1/18/03]
A little more than a week later, in the inspectors' February 14 update to the UN Security Council (see February 14, 2003), ElBaradei will say, “While the documents have provided some additional details about Iraq's laser enrichment development efforts, they refer to activities or sites already known to the IAEA and appear to be the personal files of the scientist in whose home they were found. Nothing contained in the documents alters the conclusions previously drawn by the IAEA concerning the extent of Iraq's laser enrichment program.” [Associated Press, 8/9/03; BBC, 2/17/03; Guardian, 2/15/03b]
Iraq is hiding missiles in the desert - Powell says that according to unidentified sources, the Iraqis have hidden rocket launchers and warheads containing biological weapons in the western desert. He further contends that these caches of weapons are hidden in palm groves and moved to different locations on a weekly basis. [The White House, 2/6/03]
It will later be suggested that this claim was “lifted whole from an Iraqi general's written account of hiding missiles in the 1991 war.” [Associated Press, 8/9/03]
Iraq a few dozen scud missiles - Powell also says that according to unnamed “intelligence sources,” Iraq has a few dozen Scud-type missiles. [Associated Press, 8/9/03]

Iraq has weapons of mass destruction - Secretary of State Colin Powell states unequivocally: “We ... have satellite photos that indicate that banned materials have recently been moved from a number of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction facilities. There can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more.” Elsewhere in his speech he says: “We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction, is determined to make more.” [US Department of State, 2/5/03; CNN, 2/5/03]

Reaction - The speech does little to change minds on the Security Council. France, Russia, and China remain opposed to the idea of a new resolution that would pave the way for the US to invade Iraq. These countries say that Powell's speech demonstrates that inspections are working and must be allowed to continue. “Immediately after Powell spoke, the foreign ministers of France, Russia and China—all of which hold veto power—rejected the need for imminent military action and instead said the solution was more inspections,” reports The Washington Post. But governments who have been supportive of the United States' aggressive stance remain firmly behind Washington. [Washington Post, 2/7/03; Washington Post, 2/6/03]
The press' response to Powell's evidence is also mixed. The Times of London, a relatively conservative daily newspaper, describes Powell's presentation as a “few smudgy satellite photographs, a teaspoon of talcum powder, some Lego-style drawings of sinister trucks and trains, a picture of an American U2 spy plane, several mugshots of Arabic men and a script that required a suspension of mistrust by the world's doves.” [Times, 2/6/03] The Washington Post opinion pages, however, are filled with praises for the speech. [New York Review of Books, 2/26/04] The editorial proclaims that after the presentation, it is “hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction.” [Washington Post, 2/6/04]
People and organizations involved: Mohamed ElBaradei, Raymond Zilinskas, Faleh Hassan, Hans Blix, Iraqi National Congress, Colin Powell, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Saddam Hussein  Additional Info 
          

February 20, 2003

       British Foreign Minister Robin Cook is personally given an intelligence briefing by John Scarlett, head of the British joint intelligence committee. Cook later says in his diary that Scarlett's summary was “shorn of the political slant with which No 10 encumbers any intelligence assessment.” After the meeting with Scarlett, Cook concludes that “Saddam probably does not have weapons of mass destruction in the sense of weapons that could be used against large-scale civilian targets.” [Guardian, 10/6/03; Sunday Times, 10/5/03 Sources: Robin Cook's diary]
People and organizations involved: Robin Cook, John Scarlett
          

March 7, 2003-July 7, 2003

       After the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports that the Niger documents are not authentic (see March 7, 2003), the US and British governments stand behind their claim that Iraq had sought uranium from an African country. The two countries maintain that they have additional evidence—from multiple sources—but do not elaborate. Pressed by journalists and inspectors to reveal their evidence, the two governments refuse. The IAEA tells Reuters that when it asked the US and Britain whether or not they have additional evidence that Iraq had tried to procure uranium, the answer was “no.” [Reuters, 3/26/03] Additionally, an informed UN official tells the Washington Post that the US and Britain were repeatedly asked for more information. Neither government, the official explains, “ever indicated that they had any information on any other country.” [The Washington Post, 3/22/03] An unnamed Western diplomat tells the Independent: “Despite requests, the British Government has provided no such evidence. Senior officials at the agency think it is involved in an information black-out.” [Independent, 7/17/03 Sources: Unnamed Western diplomat] The British will hold to their story even after top US officials admit (see July 11, 2003) that Bush should not have included the claim in his State of the Union speech.(see January 28, 2003) [New York Times, 7/8/03; Independent, 7/20/03]
People and organizations involved: Jacques Bautes  Additional Info 
          

Before March 19, 2003

       According to a senior intelligence official interviewed by ABC News, “The CIA conducted more than 20 briefings on the Hill and elsewhere in the run-up to the war and in none of those did we offer up the yellowcake allegations.” [ABC News, 6/16/03 Sources: Senior US intelligence official]
          

April 2003

       Larry C. Johnson, a former CIA deputy director of the US State Department Office of Counterterrorism, will say at a National Press Club briefing in February 2004: “By April of last year, I was beginning to pick up grumblings from friends inside the intelligence community that there had been pressure applied to analysts to come up with certain conclusions. Specifically, I was told that analysts were pressured to find an operational link between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. One analyst, in particular, told me they were repeatedly pressured by the most senior officials in the Department of Defense.” Johnson, who is also a former CIA analyst, adds: “In an e-mail exchange with another friend, I raised the possibility that ‘the Bush administration had bought into a lie.’ My friend, who works within the intelligence community, challenged me on the use of the word, ‘bought,’ and suggested instead that the Bush administration had created the lie. ... I have spoken to more than two analysts who have expressed fear of retaliation if they come forward and tell what they know. We know that most of the reasons we were given for going to war were wrong.” [Bamford, 2004, pp 333-334; Falls Church News-Press, 2/2004 Sources: Larry C. Johnson]
People and organizations involved: Larry C. Johnson
          

May 1, 2003

       The group Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity writes an open letter to President George W. Bush, warning him that the intelligence being used to make policy decisions is being manipulated. The group writes: “While there have been occasions in the past when intelligence has been deliberately warped for political purposes, never before has such warping been used in such a systematic way to mislead our elected representatives into voting to authorize launching a war. You may not realize the extent of the current ferment within the intelligence community and particularly the CIA. In intelligence, there is one unpardonable sin—cooking intelligence to the recipe of high policy. There is ample indication that this has been done in Iraq.” They call the skewing of intelligence “a policy and intelligence fiasco of monumental proportions.” [Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, 5/1/03; Reuters, 5/30/03; Times, 5/31/03]
People and organizations involved: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, Colin Powell
          

May 28, 2003

       The CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency [DIA] issue a 6-page white paper titled, “Iraqi Mobile Biological Warfare Agent Production Plants,” concluding that the two trailers discovered in northern Iraq were designed to produce biological weapons. It calls the discovery, “the strongest evidence to date that Iraq was hiding a biological warfare program.” The assessment is based on a comparison of the trailers to descriptions that had been provided by Iraqi sources prior to the invasion. The report also claims that there are no other plausible explanations for the trailers' purpose, [New York Times, 6/26/03; New York Times, 6/7/03] though the report does mention that Iraqis working at the al-Kindi research facility in Mosul, as well as a company that manufactured components for the trailers, say the trailers were built to make hydrogen for artillery weather balloons. [Los Angeles Times, 6/21/03] The document is not without its dissenters. Some DIA analysts reportedly disagree with the paper's finding. [New York Times, 8/9/03; New York Times, 6/26/03] It is later learned that the report was completed before the investigation had run its full course. A week after the report's release, laboratories in the Middle East and the United States were still analyzing more than 100 samples that had been taken from the trailers. A senior analyst tells the New York Times that the white paper “was a rushed job and looks political.” [New York Times, 6/7/03] It is also discovered the two agencies did not consult with other intelligence offices. Normally such reports are not finalized until there is a consensus among the government's numerous intelligence agencies. “The exclusion of the State Department's intelligence bureau and other agencies seemed unusual, several government officials said, because of the high-profile subject,” the New York Times will later report. Moreover, the State Department's intelligence agency was not even informed that the report was being prepared. [New York Times, 6/26/03]
          

Early June 2003

       A senior British source tells the Independent of London that British intelligence has kept records of its communications with Tony Blair's staff, demonstrating that they were under pressure to produce reports that supported Blair's claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. “A smoking gun may well exist over WMDs, but it may not be to the Government's liking,” one senior British official will say to the Independent a few months after the invasion. “Minuted details will show exactly what went on. Because of the frequency and, at times, unusual nature of the demands from Downing Street, people have made sure records were kept. There is a certain amount of self-preservation in this, of course” [Independent, 6/8/03 Sources: Unnamed senior British official]
          

June 11, 2003

       Congressional Republicans on Wednesday reject Democratic calls for a formal investigation into pre-war US intelligence and allegations that the White House exaggerated the threat posed by Iraq. The Republicans contend that an investigation is not needed because there is no evidence of wrongdoing. [Associated Press, 6/11/03; Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 6/12/03; Washington Post, 6/12/03]
          

June 19, 2003

       Andrew Wilkie, an analyst for the Australian Office of National Assessments, says in a testimony before British Parliament that the British and Australian governments had backed US allegations despite reports from their respective intelligence agencies that Iraq was not a serious threat. In fact, Wilkie goes so far as to say that the two governments deliberately distorted and doctored evidence to support Washington's claims, which he describes as “ridiculous,” “preposterous” and “fundamentally flawed.” According to him, there was an “over-reliance” on “garbage grade human intelligence” by individuals he says were “desperate to encourage intervention.” [Mirror, 6/20/03]
People and organizations involved: Andrew Wilkie
          

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 militant Islamic groups. [Newsweek, 12/15/03 Sources: Francis Brooke, Memo] Furthermore, he acknowedges that the information provided by the INC was driven by an agenda. “I'm a smart man. I saw what they wanted, and I adapted my strategy,” he later admits. “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.’ ” [New Yorker, 6/7/2004; Vanity Fair, 5/04, 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: Richard ("Dick") Cheney, William Luti, Francis Brooke
          

After mid-April 2003

       After it becomes apparent that there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that could have posed a serious threat to the United States or Britain, people close to the administration begin to acknowledge, through direct and indirect statements, that there were other reasons for invading Iraq, which were not disclosed to the public before the invasion. For example, ABC News reports on April 25, 2003 that “officials ... privately acknowledge the White House had another reason for war—a global show of American power and democracy.” According to one official interviewed by ABC, the weapons of mass destruction argument was used for the sole purpose of obtaining legal justification for war from the United Nations and securing support from the American public. The primary reason for the invasion, according to the officials, was that it was believed that the Middle East would produce more terrorists if the US did nothing. Their theory was that “young Arabs, angry about their lives and without hope, would always [be] looking for someone to hate—and that someone would always be Israel and the United States.” According to these ideologues, only regime change and the imposition of a western-styled, pro-Israeli and pro-US government would provide a solution. [ABC News, 4/25/03 Sources: Unnamed US official]
 Additional Info 
          

July 11, 2003

       Referring to Bush's 2003 State of the Union address, CIA director George Tenet says in a written statement, “These 16 words should never have been included in the text written for the president.” But Tenet denies that the White House is responsible for the mistake, putting the blame squarely on his own agency. And comments by Condoleezza Rice also blame the CIA, “If the CIA: the director of central intelligence, had said, ‘Take this out of the speech,’ it could have been gone, without question. If there were doubts about the underlying intelligence, those doubts were not communicated to the president, to the vice president or to me.” Another senior White House official, defending the president and his advisors, tells ABC news: “We were very careful with what the president said. We vetted the information at the highest levels.” But an intelligence official, also interviewed by ABC, dismisses the claim. [CNN, 7/11/03; The Washington Post, 7/12/03; New York Times, 7/12/03 Sources: Unnamed intelligence official] Following Tenet's statement, a barrage of news reports citing unnamed CIA officials reveal that the White House had in fact been explicitly warned not to include the African-uranium claim. These reports indicate that at the time Bush delivered his State of the Union address, it had been widely understood in US intelligence circles that the Africa-uranium claim had little evidence supporting it. [Knight Ridder Newspapers, 6/12/03; Boston Globe, 3/16/03; New York Times, 3/23/03; Associated Press, 6/12/03; The Washington Post, 7/20/03; Newsday, 7/12/03; Associated Press, 6/12/03; Knight Ridder, 6/16/03; Knight Ridder, 6/13/03] For example, CBS News reports, “CIA officials warned members of the president's National Security Council staff the intelligence was not good enough to make the flat statement Iraq tried to buy uranium from Africa.” And a Washington Post article cites an unnamed intelligence source who says, “We consulted about the paper [September 2002 British dossier] and recommended against using that material.” [CNN, 7/10/03; CBS News, 7/10/03; The Washington Post, 7/11/03 Sources: Unnamed intelligence official] White House officials respond that the dossier issued by the British government contained the unequivocal assertion: “Iraq has ... sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa” and that the officials had argued that as long as the statement was attributed to the British Intelligence, it would be technically true. Similarly, ABC News reports: “A CIA official has an idea about how the Niger information got into the president's speech. He said he is not sure the sentence was ever cleared by the agency, but said he heard speechwriters wanted it included, so they attributed it to the British.” The same version of events is told to the New York Times by a senior administration official, who claims, “The decision to mention uranium came from White House speechwriters, not from senior White House officials.” [New York Times, 7/19/03; New York Times, 7/14/03; CBS News, 7/10/03; ABC News, 6/12/03 Sources: Unnamed administration official, Unnamed CIA official] But according to a CIA intelligence official and four members of the Senate Intelligence Committee who are investigating the issue, the decision to include the Africa-uranium claim was influenced by the people associated with the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans (see September 2002). [Information Clearing House, 7/16/03 Sources: four members of the Senate's intelligence committee, Unnamed CIA official]
People and organizations involved: George Tenet, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice  Additional Info 
          

August 22, 2003

       Andrew Wilkie, an analyst for the Australian Office of National Assessments, tells an Australian parliamentary inquiry investigating pre-war claims about Iraq, that the Australian government manipulated intelligence in an effort to build support for the March 2003 US-led invasion. He explains that the government misrepresented intelligence by concealing from the public ambiguities that were present in its intelligence assessments. [Independent, 8/23/03; Wilkie, 8/22/03; The Age, 8/23/03]
People and organizations involved: Andrew Wilkie  Additional Info 
          

Autumn 2003

       Undersecretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton changes the procedures for handling intelligence in the Pentagon so that his office will receive more classified documents. “I found that there was lots of stuff that I wasn't getting and that the INR [State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research] analysts weren't including,” Bolton later recalls in an interview with Seymour Hersh. “I didn't want it filtered. I wanted to see everything—to be fully informed. If that puts someone's nose out of joint, sorry about that.” [New Yorker, 10/27/2003 Sources: John R. Bolton]
People and organizations involved: John R. Bolton, Bureau of Intelligence and Research
          

September 25, 2003

       Top Republican legislators Porter J. Goss and Jane Harman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence send a letter to CIA Director George J. Tenet, criticizing his agency for providing poor intelligence on Iraq during the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq. They were prompted to write the letter after spending “four months combing through 19 volumes of classified material” and discovering how poorly the evidence supported the White House's assertions about Iraq. Administration officials downplay the charges. In the letter, they say the CIA provided intelligence based on “circumstantial,” “fragmentary,” and ambiguous evidence. “Thus far, it appears that these judgments were based on too many uncertainties,” they note in their letter. [Washington Post, 9/28/03; Reuters, 9/29/03] They also accuse the CIA of using intelligence that was outdated, including assessments dating back to 1998 when the UN was forced to leave Iraq ahead of US bombing. Evidence that was recent often consisted of “piecemeal” intelligence. “Intelligence assessments that Iraq continued to pursue chemical and biological weapons ... were long-standing judgments,” which “remained constant and static over the past ten years,” they complain in the letter. [Washington Post, 9/28/03; Reuters, 9/29/03] Another criticism they have is that the intelligence agency sometimes drew conclusions based on faulty logic. “The absence of proof that chemical and biological weapons and their related development programs had been destroyed was considered proof that they continued to exist,” they say. [Reuters, 9/29/03; Washington Post, 9/28/03] Lastly, they complain that the CIA uncritically accepted claims from dubious sources. In the agency's assessments, it failed to clarify which reports “were from sources that were credible and which were from sources that would otherwise be dismissed in the absence of any other corroborating intelligence.” [Washington Post, 9/28/03] Significantly, the authors assert, “We have not found any information in the assessments that are still classified that was any more definitive.” [Washington Post, 9/27/03] The White House dismisses the two Republicans' criticisms.
People and organizations involved: George Tenet, Jane Harman, Porter J. Goss  Additional Info 
          

October 2003

       Robin Cook publishes portions of a diary he had kept when he was Blair's foreign minister. The published memoirs reveal—among other things—that Tony Blair had intentionally misled the British population. [Guardian, 10/6/03; Sunday Times, 10/5/03 Sources: Robin Cook's diary] The diary reveals how before the war intelligence provided to Cook by John Scarlett indicated that Saddam Hussein probably did not have weapons of mass destruction that could be used to attack the US or Britain. [Guardian, 10/6/03; Sunday Times, 10/5/03 Sources: Robin Cook's diary] Cook's entries also show that before the war, Blair did not believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that could be used to attack the US or Britain. [Sunday Times, 10/5/03; Guardian, 10/6/03 Sources: Robin Cook's diary] Additionally, the diary shows that Tony Blair ignored the “large number of ministers who spoke up against the war.” He says that the officials in the foreign ministry were consistently opposed to the invasion of Iraq. [Sunday Times, 10/5/03 Sources: Robin Cook's diary]
People and organizations involved: John Scarlett, Tony Blair  Additional Info 
          

November 21, 2003

       Former UN chief weapons inspector and US Marine intelligence officer Scott Ritter tells reporters in the British House of Commons about the existence of two secret British disinformation campaigns—Operation Mass Appeal (see 1991-2003) and Operation Rockingham (see 1991-March 2003) —which planted stories based on dubious intelligence in the US, British, and foreign media between 1991 and 2003. [Guardian, 11/21/03; Guardian, 11/29/03; Scotsman, 11/21/03; BBC, 11/21/03]
People and organizations involved: Scott Ritter  Additional Info 
          

February 5, 2004

       Retired Army Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, who served as the first US administrator in post-Saddam Iraq, says in an interview with the National Journal Group that the US will probably keep troops in Iraq for “the next few decades.” He adds that “one of the most important things we can do right now is start getting basing rights” in northern and southern Iraq. “To me that's what Iraq is for the next few decades. We ought to have something there... that gives us great presence in the Middle East. I think that's going to be necessary.” [National Journal, 2/6/04]
People and organizations involved: Jay Garner
          

February 18, 2004

       Ahmed Chalabi, president of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), tells the London Telegraph during an interview in Baghdad that he has no regrets that the intelligence he fed to the US turned out to be wrong. Though his group has been accused of intentionally providing misleading information to US intelligence through the Pentagon offices under Douglas Feith, he believes its members should be regarded as “heroes in error.” “As far as we're concerned we've been entirely successful,” he contends. “That tyrant Saddam is gone and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important. The Bush administration is looking for a scapegoat. We're ready to fall on our swords if he wants.” One of the most significant claims Colin Powell had made to the UN Security Council on February 5, 2003 had been supplied by a source supplied by the INC. In that case, a defected Iraqi major had claimed that Iraq possessed mobile bilogical weapons labs. [Telegraph, 2/19/04]
People and organizations involved: Iraqi National Congress, Ahmed Chalabi
          

Mid-January 2004

       In an interview with Time magazine, former US Secretary of Treasury Paul O'Neill says he never saw or heard of any real evidence that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. “In the 23 months I was there, I never saw anything that I would characterize as evidence of weapons of mass destruction,” he explains. “There were allegations and assertions by people.... But I've been around a hell of a long time, and I know the difference between evidence and assertions and illusions or allusions and conclusions that one could draw from a set of assumptions. To me there is a difference between real evidence and everything else. And I never saw anything in the intelligence that I would characterize as real evidence.” [Time, 1/11/04]
People and organizations involved: Paul O'Neill
          


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