White House cherry-picked intelligence

By Sean Aqui | Related entries in Foreign Policy, General Politics, Iraq, News, Partisan Hacks, The War On Terrorism

Did the administration’s hand-picked intelligence massager cherry pick and spin the facts in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq?

Yep.

Intelligence provided by former undersecretary of defense Douglas J. Feith to buttress the White House case for invading Iraq included “reporting of dubious quality or reliability” that supported the political views of senior administration officials rather than the conclusions of the intelligence community, according to a report by the Pentagon’s inspector general.

Feith’s office “was predisposed to finding a significant relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda,” according to portions of the report, released yesterday by Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.). The inspector general described Feith’s activities as “an alternative intelligence assessment process.”

An unclassified summary of the full document is scheduled for release today in a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which Levin chairs. In that summary, a copy of which was obtained from another source by The Washington Post, the inspector general concluded that Feith’s assessment in 2002 that Iraq and al-Qaeda had a “mature symbiotic relationship” was not fully supported by available intelligence but was nonetheless used by policymakers.

This is the office that turned into Cheney’s favorite intelligence factory, and whose assessments were — for obvious reasons — preferred to the CIA’s own.

Feith and his defenders are focusing on the finding that his activities were found to be legal. An irrelevancy, since the question has always been whether the administration cherry-picked intelligence, not whether such cherry-picking was legal. It’s like Bush leaking classified material — it’s by definition legal, since he has the power to declassify anything he wants. That has nothing to do with whether it is right or proper.

More excerpts:

The summary document confirmed a range of accusations that Levin had leveled against Feith’s office, alleging inaccurate work.

Feith’s office, it said, drew on “both reliable and unreliable” intelligence reports in 2002 to produce a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq “that was much stronger than that assessed by the IC [Intelligence Community] and more in accord with the policy views of senior officials in the Administration.”

It stated that the office produced intelligence assessments “inconsistent” with the U.S. intelligence community consensus, calling those actions “inappropriate” because the assessments purported to be “intelligence products” but were far more conclusive than the consensus view.

Notably, Feith’s office produced the isolated and discredited intelligence behind the administration’s claim that Mohammad Atta met with Iraqi intelligence in Prague in 2001. That’s not only an example of Feith’s failings; it’s proof that the administration relied on Feith’s reports to make their public case — describing them as “classified intelligence” — even though the inspector general’s report contains denials that they viewed Feith’s work as intelligence assessments.

Busted. I’ll post a link to the actual report once the committee makes it available.

You gotta love it when the opposition takes over Congress. Suddenly we’re getting hearings into things we should have had hearings on years ago, and answers are starting to pop out. This goes a long way toward filling the gap left by the Republican Congressional leadership, which never got around to conducting Part II of its analysis of intelligence failures — the part that was supposed to investigate whether the White House misused intelligence to justify the war.

The initial answer appears to be “yes.”


This entry was posted on Friday, February 9th, 2007 and is filed under Foreign Policy, General Politics, Iraq, News, Partisan Hacks, The War On Terrorism. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

12 Responses to “White House cherry-picked intelligence”

  1. Polimom Says » “An exercise in alternative thinking” Says:

    [...] Sean Aqui writing at Donklephant: You gotta love it when the opposition takes over Congress. Suddenly we’re getting hearings into things we should have had hearings on years ago, and answers are starting to pop out. This goes a long way toward filling the gap left by the Republican Congressional leadership, which never got around to conducting Part II of its analysis of intelligence failures � the part that was supposed to investigate whether the White House misused intelligence to justify the war. [...]

  2. The Heretik : Now Serving Fresh BS Says:

    [...] If you don’t like these facts, we can always order new ones. *Sob* Pity the poor SOBs “Feith and Wolfowitz [who] have served as targets for Democrats for years .” [...]

  3. bob in fl Says:

    Yes, it is about time. But when are we ever going to get to the intelligence that started this whole mess? I am referring to the events surrounding the 9/11 events & response. The Administration’s “Coincidence Theory” has so many coincidences involved, the possibility of their account being accurate is zilch. Eight of the 11 members of the 9/11 Commission, along with over 200 other military, intelligence, foreign diplomatic & scientific leaders have signed a petition urging re-opening that investigation. The first clue? NOBODY has been demoted or fired for the obvious failure to pass along pertinent intelligence before the attacks or for the obvious mishandling of the response.

    Then we have the EPA report of 9/14, ordered by Bush himself, which stated the air around the WTC was safe to breathe, which has caused the casualty list from 9/11 to reach well past the 3000 mark, with thousands of first responders, rescue clean up workers, & ordinary workers & residents of the area sick & dying. Add to that the coincidence that anthrax laced mail was mailed to 5 media outlets which had been highly critical of Bush + the only 2 US Senators who opposed passage of the so called Patriot Act.

    Since that event created the whole mess we find ourselves in, it cannot be considered ancient history. So when we will we get to the core of it all?

  4. bob in fl Says:

    OOPS. I forgot to include tyhe link supporting my statement that over 2/3 of the 9/11 Commission members had signed the petition. It is:

    http://www.patriotsquestion911.com/

  5. ray robison Says:

    FYI, the Wa Po has placed a huge correction on this article. Seems the quotes from the IG report were actually from a Democrat report. Wow, that has got to hurt. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  6. Jeff Says:

    Yea, Sean, you really need to update this post

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/08/AR2007020802387_pf.html

    A Feb. 9 front-page article about the Pentagon inspector general’s report regarding the office of former undersecretary of defense Douglas J. Feith incorrectly attributed quotations to that report. References to Feith’s office producing “reporting of dubious quality or reliability” and that the office “was predisposed to finding a significant relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda” were from a report issued by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) in Oct. 2004. Similarly, the quotes stating that Feith’s office drew on “both reliable and unreliable reporting” to produce a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq “that was much stronger than that assessed by the IC [Intelligence Community] and more in accord with the policy views of senior officials in the Administration” were also from Levin’s report. The article also stated that the intelligence provided by Feith’s office supported the political views of senior administration officials, a conclusion that the inspector general’s report did not draw.The two reports employ similar language to characterize the activities of Feith’s office: Levin’s report refers to an “alternative intelligence assessment process” developed in that office, while the inspector general’s report states that the office “developed, produced, and then disseminated alternative intelligence assessments on the Iraq and al Qaida relationship, which included some conclusions that were inconsistent with the consensus of the Intelligence Community, to senior decision-makers.” The inspector general’s report further states that Feith’s briefing to the White House in 2002 “undercuts the Intelligence Community” and “did draw conclusions that were not fully supported by the available intelligence.”

    This screw up is probably big enough to warrant not just an update, but an entire new post all-together, since by the time you update it most people won’t see it since it will have scrolled down the page.

    If I don’t see a response, I might just e-mail you about it, since there’s a hance you didn’t see the comment.

  7. Jim S Says:

    In the end though, revisions to the blog or not Feith was still tasked to come up with conclusions different than what the real intelligence staffs came up with. It’s only reasonable to state that the reason for this was political since there really isn’t any other explanation.

  8. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    I guess this is like the CBS national-guard memos.

    Fake, but accurate?

  9. Jim S Says:

    Nothing’s fake. Keep in mind this from the correction.

    ‘The two reports employ similar language to characterize the activities of Feith’s office: Levin’s report refers to an “alternative intelligence assessment process” developed in that office, while the inspector general’s report states that the office “developed, produced, and then disseminated alternative intelligence assessments on the Iraq and al Qaida relationship, which included some conclusions that were inconsistent with the consensus of the Intelligence Community, to senior decision-makers.” The inspector general’s report further states that Feith’s briefing to the White House in 2002 “undercuts the Intelligence Community” and “did draw conclusions that were not fully supported by the available intelligence.”‘

    Notice that the IG’s office used language similar to Levin’s report, not contradicting it. Also notice that the IG’s report also specifically states that Feith’s group drew conclusions that were unsupported by the intelligence. Given Feith’s position there is no rational explanation other than political motivation.

  10. Sean Aqui Says:

    Here’s the report’s executive summary (pdf). And here’s an unclassified presentation on the actual report.

    As Jim S. noted, the correction doesn’t change the fundamental conclusions of the report.

    For example, the Levin report used the language “Reporting of dubious quality or reliability.” The IG report described it as “not fully supported by underlying intelligence.”

    The Levin report said Feith drew on “both reliable and unreliable reporting” to reach a conclusion “that was much stronger than that assessed by the IC [Intelligence Community] and more in accord with the policy views of senior officials in the Administration”. The IG report notes that Feith’s reports drew on sources that were described by the Director of Central Intelligence as “of varying reliability,” a fact that (while arguably obvious) Feith left out of his briefings. The IG report went on to say that “Analysis of (DiC’s) statement does not support (Feith’s) position of a ‘mature symbiotic relationship in all areas.’ ” The IG report does not comment on whether such a position was in line with senior administration officials’ views, but we know from other sources that it was.

    So while an embarassing gaffe for the WaPo (and one that costs us some of the more compelling quotes in the original article), the conclusions remain valid.

    One can say that any misrepresentation of intelligence was Feith’s fault, not the administration’s. But Feith’s office was deliberately set up to provide an alternative interpretation of intelligence because the White House didn’t like or trust what the actual intelligence folks were telling it. And when Feith’s reports began to diverge from what the intelligence agencies were telling it, what did the White House do? Embrace Feith’s version. If they were misled, it was because they wanted to be misled.

  11. cherry » Blog Archive » White House cherry-picked intelligence - Donklephant Says:

    [...] Voice of AmericaDid the administration??â„¢s hand-picked intelligence massager cherry pick and spin the facts in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq? … Source http://donklephant.com/2007/02/09/white-house-cherry-picked-intelligence/ [...]

  12. BenG Says:

    I don’t understand why. If the actual IG report states that; “The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense…included some conclusions (about the Iraq – al Quida relationship) that were inconsistent with the consensus of the Intelligence Community to Senior decision-makers. While such actions were not illegal or unauthorized, the actions were, in our opinion, innappropriate given that the intelligence assessment … did not clearly show the variance with the consensus of the Intelligence Community.” Why, if their conclusions reveal this, do they not put Mr. Feith under oath and ask him who was responsible for expanding his role from policy to “alternative intelligence analysis and dissemmination”?
    I mean, this sounds like they’ve got some real answers here as to how we got ourselves into this mess. Are the Dems. gonna do something about it ? If they want to end this President’s ‘surge’ why don’t they show the very thing that started the insanity in the first place and let the people decide for themselves if it was the proper way to start this war. Instead they’re gonna argue semantics? Unbelievable!

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