Today, President Bush attempted to defend his manipulation of pre-war Iraq intelligence by citing the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report.
BUSH: These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community’s judgments related to Iraq’s weapons programs.
What the Senate Intelligence Committee did report, however, is that there was plenty of evidence demonstrating that the intelligence assessments made by intel officials WERE changed.
The Los Angeles Times (7/10/04) reported, “[I]n the unclassified version of the NIE — the so-called white paper cited by the Bush administration in making its case for war — those carefully qualified conclusions [in the classified version] were turned into blunt assertions of fact.”
Here’s what the Senate Intelligence Committee reported about the administration’s use of intelligence:
The intelligence community’s elimination of the caveats from the unclassified white paper misrepresented their judgments to the public, which did not have access to the classified National Intelligence Estimate containing the more carefully worded assessments.
Essentially, the Bush administration took the intelligence that was presented to them in the classified NIE and twisted it to present a stronger case for war in the public version of the NIE. Here are some examples:Classified NIE: “Although we have little specific information on Iraq’s CW stockpile, Saddam Hussein probably has stocked at least 100 metric tons” of such poisons. Unclassified NIE: The phrase “although we have little specific information” was deleted. Instead, the public report said, “Saddam probably has stocked a few hundred metric tons of CW agents.” [Senate Intel Cmte Report]
Classified NIE: “Iraq has some lethal and incapacitating BW [biological weapons] agents and is capable of quickly producing “¦ a variety of such agents, including anthrax, for delivery by bombs, missiles, aerial sprayers and covert operatives.” Unclassified NIE: The words “potentially against the U.S. homeland” are inserted at the end of the statement. [Senate Intel Cmte Report]Classified NIE: Stated Iraq was developing unmanned aerial vehicles “probably intended to deliver biological warfare agents.”Unclassified NIE: A footnote in the classified version from the Air Force stating its disagreement with this claim was eliminated. The Senate Committee report stated the public NIE missed “the fact that… [the] agency with primary responsibility for technological analysis on UAV programs did not agree with the assessment.” [Senate Intel Cmte Report]Classified NIE: Included a reference to State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research dissenting view on whether Iraq would have a nuclear weapon this decade.Unclassified NIE: Did not contain any mention of INR’s dissent.[Senate Intel Cmte Report]