Left Hook! The Blog
The National Intelligene Estimate (NIE) is the collective work of the U.S. intellgience community (the IC), and it's supposed to represent a consensus of that communities' views on whatever subject it addresses.
The Bush administration publicly based its case for a full-scale invasion of Iraq on "intelligence," and, if that had, indeed, actually been driving the policy, a request for an NIE would have been their first step.
Instead, the 2002 Iraq NIE that eventually emerged was assembled only as an afterthought, over a year after the war policy had been decided upon, and was only requested at all because congress, preparing to debate authorizing an aggressive invasion, insisted upon it.
Instead of a genuine effort at consensus, the Iraq NIE became a propaganda show. The final product was a sloppy mess, slapped together in only days, and reflected the results of the administration's year + campaign of browbeating the intel community into shaping its product to serve the needs of the pre-determined war policy. It was a catalog of guesses, maybes, and half-truths, wherein the worst possible reading was given to any contradictory information, and everything that didn't support the war policy--including HUGE, obvious gaping holes in the war-hawks' central thesis--was relegated to footnotes, "dissents," and other "caveats."
This absudly distorted NIE was sent to congress in the wee hours of the morning, only hours before the debate on the use-of-force resolution was to commence. Only a very few members were ever allowed to see it, and, the document being classified, they weren't allowed the presence of any staff, or to take any notes, or to quote from anything they read, rendering the whole silly charade even more pointless.
Some facts that emerged only later make painfully transparent the bad faith exercised in the creation of the NIE. In the NIE, the CIA endorsed the now-infamous phony claims about an Iraq/Niger uranium deal. Then, less than a week later, with, as everyone involved agrees, no new information having been developed, the CIA was telling the White House, both in memo and via a call by the head of the CIA himself, that the allegation was unsupportable, and thus should be cut from a presidential speech on Iraq.
(Three months later, with the case for Iraqi WMDs having withered to practically nothing and with Bush needing SOMETHING to make his case for war, Bush's handlers placed the allegation in the State of the Union Address as one of three allegations used in support of Iraqi nuclear pursuit. The other two were, likewise, false.)
What all members received--and this is reflected in their public statements--was a White Paper issued, for public release, by the CIA a few days later. This purported to summarize the conclusions of the NIE. What it actually did was distort the already-distorted information in the NIE by methodically eliminating anything that contradicted the administration's public claims. All of those huge, gaping holes that had already been reduced to "caveats" were stripped entirely away.
The missing items were, of course, devastating to the case for war. No matter how much Bush, Cheney, and the rest raged at them, none of the legitimate intelligence agencies--a designation that excludes the phony one the Bush gang set up in the Pentagon to undermine the work of the real IC--ever crafted an analysis to support the ludicrous assertions of an Iraq-al Qaida partnership, the major argument that sold the public on the war. The IC's judgment (longstanding, and later proven correct) was that the secular Saddam Hussein regime viewed such groups as hated enemies, and the CIA said, straightforwardly, that the only conceivable scenario by which Saddam Hussein would even consider providing WMDs to terrorists would be the very one Bush was pursuing, a war in which he was pushed to the wall, snapped, and did it as a final act of revenge. The CIA also ranked the probability of an unprovoked Iraqi attack on the U.S.--again, a key Bush argument for war--as very low.
While Bush and his underlings were hanging their argument for war on "intelligence," these important judgments collectively destroyed the administrations' entire argument for a "preemptive" attack. So the administration's White Paper simply removed them.
This didn't go entirely unnoticed. Sen. Carl Levin and others caught on to the scam and managed to get the truth on these matters declassified before the war began. The corporate press, its collective nose buried so deeply in Bush's anal orifice as to be choking on his breath, largely ignored it. As usual.
This story took
a new twist in 2008. As noted earlier, the NIE was issued on Oct. 2002,
that White Paper a few days later. The White Paper was purported to be
a summary of the NIE. In fact, it turned out to be a rewritten version
of an earlier paper from July 2002. A paper written before the NIE had
even been compiled. Further, the only substantial changes in the Oct. White
Paper and the earlier July one are in strengthening the anti-Iraq rhetoric
and adding new anti-Iraq allegations in a way that strongly suggests the
influence of the aforementioned Pentagon group, the one established for
the purpose of manufacturing an alternate intel analysis in order to both
undermine the work of the legitimate IC and to pressure them into shaping
their analysis in a pro-war manner. It seems they succeeded.
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