This morning, Gen. Michael Hayden was asked at his nomination hearing about whether he was comfortable with the Bush administration’s pre-war attempts to link Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Watch his answer to Sen. Carl Levin’s question:
LEVIN: Secretary of Defense for Policy, Mr. Feith, established an intelligence analysis, so within his policy office at the Defense Department. While the intelligence community was consistently dubious about links between Iraq and al Qaeda, Mr. Feith produced an alternative analysis asserting that there was a strong connection. Were you comfortable with Mr. Feith’s office approach to intelligence analysis?
HAYDEN: No, sir, I wasn’t. I wasn’t aware of a lot of the activity going on, you know, when it was contemporaneous with running up to the war. No, sir, I wasn’t comfortable.
What Hayden makes clear is that, despite Bush’s assertion that the pre-war intelligence process “broke down,” the false intelligence about Iraq’s connection to al Qaeda was intentionally fabricated by political leaders, not intelligence analysts. Feith, Wolfowitz, and others in the Pentagon set up a stovepipe “to get the information they wanted directly to the top leadership” to make the case for war. Hayden and other intelligence experts got steamrolled when it mattered most.