Last night, PBS’s Frontline aired a new documentary entitled “The Dark Side” which tells the story of how Vice President Cheney seized on 9/11 to expand executive power and exert control over the nation’s intelligence functions.
One of the many examples the show cites of the administration’s successful manipulation of Iraq intelligence was the use of National Intelligence Estimate to propagate some of the most misleading claims.
After the congressional vote in October 2002, the Bush administration published a “white paper” unclassified version of the NIE. That “white paper” changed many of the official judgments of intelligence professionals by turning qualified conclusions into blunt assertions of fact. One of the primary authors of the “white paper,” former CIA staffer Paul Pillar, told Frontline the paper was “clearly requested and published for policy advocacy purposes,” rather than its intended function as a fact-intensive, comprehensive judgment of the intelligence community. He added, “I regret having a role in that.” Watch it.