In Stephen Hayes’s upcoming biography on Dick Cheney, he writes that the current Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell appears to side with “those who believe that the administration manipulated intelligence on Iraq for political purposes before the 2003 invasion.”
McConnell reportedly said he had “serious reservations” when asked by President Bush to become the DNI because of the Pentagon’s manipulation of intelligence in the lead up to the Iraq war. Today, Meet the Press host Tim Russert previewed the relevant portion of the book:
McConnell was honored to be asked [to be DNI], but he had serious reservations. He had been unimpressed with many aspects of the Bush administration and its conduct of the war on terror, particularly what he felt was a politicized use of intelligence in the lead-up to the Iraq war. [...]
“My sense of it is their political faith and convictions influenced how they took information and interpreted [it], how they picked up and interpreted outside events. … I’ve read much more about the current set of players and they did set up a whole new interpretation because they didn’t like the answers. They’ve gotten results that in my view now have been disastrous,” [McConnell said].
McConnell decried the “secondary unit” established within the Pentagon to “reinterpret information” prior to the war. An internal Pentagon investigation released in February revealed that former Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith utilized the Counter-Terrorism Evaluation Group within the Pentagon to create and promote false links between Iraq and al Qaeda.
Specifically, then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz “asked Feith’s analysts to ignore the intelligence community’s belief that the militant Islamist al-Qaida and Saddam’s secular dictatorship were unlikely allies.” Subsequently, Feith “disseminated alternative intelligence assessments on the Iraq and al-Qaida relationship…to senior decision-makers.”
McConnell stated, “The way you do intelligence is all sources considered. You have to factor one issue against the other and balance it.” Four years later, this administration is still reinterpreting intelligence.