Friday, March 03, 2006

All the President's Intelligence

Dan Froomkin gets the ball rolling:

What the President Knew

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I didn't have time yesterday to do much more than link to Murray Waas 's latest National Journal story. But it's worth revisiting. So let me try to summarize.

First of all, the story is based on super-secret one-page intelligence summaries that Bush can't say he didn't read. In at least one case, Waas writes, CIA Director George Tenet made Bush read them right in front of him.

The story asserts that even as Bush was repeatedly warning that Saddam might use chemical or biological weapons against the United States (or provide such weapons to terrorist groups) he knew that intelligence agencies were unanimous that Saddam was in no way an imminent threat to the U.S. -- with the possible exception of if he was attacked.

The story also asserts that even as he was publicly saying that Saddam's acquisition of high-strength aluminum tubes was evidence of a nuclear weapons program, Bush knew that some intelligence experts strongly dissented from that view.

Go read Waas's story -- then revisit Bush's State of the Union address on January 28, 2003. Read Bush's speech in Cincinnati on October 7, 2002. Troll around the House Government Reform minority office's Iraq on the Record database. Search for mentions of aluminum tubes and the like.
He seems to have screwed up the aluminum tube search, so I set up a Google one. Now, just ignore that and Ctrl F the .pdf!!!

The President's State of the Union address from January, 2003:
The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a nuclear weapon and was working on five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb. The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production. Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide.
That speech in October, 2002:
The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. Saddam Hussein has held numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, a group he calls his "nuclear mujahideen" -- his nuclear holy warriors. Satellite photographs reveal that Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past. Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.
The reporting yesterday from the National Journal:
The first report, delivered to Bush in early October 2002, was a one-page summary of a National Intelligence Estimate that discussed whether Saddam's procurement of high-strength aluminum tubes was for the purpose of developing a nuclear weapon.

Among other things, the report stated that the Energy Department and the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research believed that the tubes were "intended for conventional weapons," a view disagreeing with that of other intelligence agencies, including the CIA, which believed that the tubes were intended for a nuclear bomb.

The disclosure that Bush was informed of the DOE and State dissents is the first evidence that the president himself knew of the sharp debate within the government over the aluminum tubes during the time that he, Cheney, and other members of the Cabinet were citing the tubes as clear evidence of an Iraqi nuclear program. Neither the president nor the vice president told the public about the disagreement among the agencies.
Did the president lie his way into a costly, damaging war? Perhaps not. But he misled the American people into it.

As for that report from the Democrats, here's some of it...

From that minority report .pdf (in honor of crappy intel, I am keeping the footnotes):

PAGE 16

2. Claims about the Aluminum Tubes

In 2001 and 2002, shipments of aluminum tubes to Iraq were intercepted.29 This
discovery led to an active debate within intelligence agencies about the intended
use of the tubes.

Numerous experts believed the tubes were for conventional rockets rather than a
nuclear development program. In his February 5, 2004, speech, Mr. Tenet
explained that disagreement over the purpose of the aluminum tubes was “a
______________________________________________________________

29 Speculation, Fact Hard to Separate in Story of Iraq’s ‘Nuclear’ Tubes, USA Today (Aug. 1, 2003).

PAGE 17

debate laid out extensively in the estimate and one that experts still argue over.”30
The agency with the most technical expertise in this area, the Department of
Energy, believed that the tubes likely were not part of a nuclear enrichment
program, stating in the NIE that “the tubes probably are not part of the
program.”31 The International Atomic Energy Agency agreed, concluding:
“There is no indication that Iraq has attempted to import aluminum tubes for use
in centrifuge enrichment.”32

In addition to dissent from the Energy Department and international inspectors,
the State Department also expressed formal reservations, stating in the NIE that
“INR is not persuaded that the tubes in question are intended for use as centrifuge
rotors.”33 Instead, the State Department accepted the “judgment of technical
experts at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) who have concluded that the
tubes Iraq seeks to acquire are poorly suited for use in gas centrifuges.” The State
Department explained its position in detail:

The very large quantities being sought, the way the tubes were tested by
the Iraqis, and the atypical lack of attention to operational security in the
procurement efforts are among the factors, in addition to the DOE
assessment, that lead INR to conclude that the tubes are not intended for
use in Iraq’s nuclear weapon program.35

According to the NIE, “INR considers it far more likely that the tubes are
intended for another purpose, most likely the production of artillery rockets.”36
These doubts about the use of the aluminum tubes were not conveyed by
Administration officials, however. Instead, the aluminum tubes became one of
the two principal pieces of information cited by the Administration to support the
claim that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. President Bush,
Vice President Cheney, Secretary Powell, and National Security Advisor Rice
made 10 misleading statements in 9 public appearances about the significance of
the aluminum tubes.
______________________________________________________________
30 Central Intelligence Agency, supra note 7.
31 National Intelligence Council, supra note 16.
32 U.N. Split Widens as Allies Dismiss Deadline on Iraq, New York Times (Mar. 7, 2003).
33 National Intelligence Council, supra note 16.
34 Id.
35 Id.
36 Id.

PAGE 18

For example, Ms. Rice stated on September 8, 2002: “We do know that there
have been shipments going into . . . Iraq . . . of aluminum tubes that . . . are only
really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs.”37 Similarly,
Vice President Cheney said on September 8, 2002: “[Saddam Hussein] now is
trying, through his illicit procurement network, to acquire the equipment he needs
to be able to enrich uranium to make the bombs . . . [s]pecifically aluminum
tubes.”38 These statements were misleading because they did not present the
possibility that the tubes were suitable or intended for another purpose, or
acknowledge that key U.S. experts doubted that the tubes were intended to make
nuclear bombs.

In one instance, Secretary Powell did acknowledge that some experts disputed
that the aluminum tubes were intended for nuclear uses. In his February 5, 2003,
address before the United Nations, Secretary Powell stated, “By now, just about
everyone has heard of these tubes and we all know that there are differences of
opinion. There is controversy about what these tubes are for. Most US experts
think they are intended to serve as rotors in centrifuges used to enrich uranium.”39
Even in that statement, however, Secretary Powell did not make clear that experts
from the Department of Energy and the State Department’s own intelligence
division played a significant role in the analysis of this issue and in formal and
deliberate dissents had disputed the view that the tubes would likely be used to
enrich uranium.

On another occasion, Secretary Powell cited the tubes as evidence of pursuit of
nuclear weapons, without noting that the intended use of the tubes was under
dispute, asserting: “We also know that Iraq has tried to obtain high-strength
aluminum tubes, which can be used to enrich uranium in centrifuges for a nuclear
weapons program.”40

By January 27, 2003, the International Atomic Energy Agency had reached the
tentative conclusion that the aluminum tubes “would be consistent with the
purpose stated by Iraq and, unless modified, would not be suitable for
manufacturing centrifuges.”41 Following the occupation of Iraq, the Iraq Survey
______________________________________________________________
37 Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, CNN (Sept. 8, 2002).
38 Meet the Press, NBC (Sept. 8, 2002).
39 U.S. Department of State, Remarks to the United Nations Security Council, Secretary Colin L.
Powell (Feb. 5, 2003).
40 U.S. Department of State, Press Conference with Secretary of State Colin Powell re: U.S.
Reaction to Iraqi Arms Declaration (Dec. 19, 2002).
41 UN News Centre, IAEA Chief: No Evidence So Far of Revived Iraqi Nuclear Arms Programme
(Jan. 27, 2003).

PAGE 19

Group did not find evidence indicating that the tubes were intended for nuclear
use. In his January 28, 2004, testimony, Dr. Kay announced: “It is my judgment,
based on the evidence that was collected . . . that it’s more probable that those
tubes were intended for use in a conventional missile program, rather than in a
centrifuge program.”42

______________________________________________________________
42 Testimony of David Kay, supra note 12.

17 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why don't you get your facts straight?

Ex-Official: Russia Moved Saddam's WMD

http://newsmax.com/

11:36 AM  
Blogger Bassizzzt said...

So edit copy left out a detail, big deal. We all do that once in a while.

However, I've read the newsmax article a few months ago, and I agree with what it is saying, but I still contend that some WMD were moved into neighboring (Ba'ath Party governed, mind you, just like Saddam) Syria shortly before the brewhaha in Iraq. Indeed, satellite imagery of large heavy trucks were spotted migrating north from Iraq into Syria, but knowing the liberal "in crowd" this wasn't WMD; they'll drum up some theory and go along with it.

Of course, the leftist media has an agenda to even go as far to explain that the large freshly dug pits weren't there to hide or bury WMD even though it appears that some large containers were pulled out from these pits.

ANYTHING to prove it wasn't WMD. It's scary to think that America's Left would go that far to back up Saddam and buy into it and even deceive others that Saddam didn't have any WMD when in fact he DID.

3:26 PM  
Blogger zen said...

Interesting.
It's amazing to hear the rally of war drums starting for Iran, to see pundits begin to push the hysteria of WMDs and nukes in Iran. It makes one wonder why the port deal and good relations with UAE is so damn vital to Bush: To launch a strike against Iran from bases in UAE? Remember the deals that had to be pushed through with Turkey so we could have a northern front in Iraq?
All this in the face of the National Intelligence Estimate that contends Iran is still about a decade away from any such weapon. And through it all, the tough words from the White House never site any intel sources. Because these facts do not matter. What matters is creating a mood that will support one's agenda. And if that agenda is to use America's military might as a force of change and influence in the world (see PNAC and the neocon platform), well then keeping people scared and submissive will better achieve those goals. Criticism of that agenda? Well then question the critics’ patriotism and tell the public things like "trust me" and "it's for your own good." Removing checks and balances, temporarily (yeah right) erase freedoms and rights...or else the terrorists win.

What is remarkable is the way this administration (not to say other's didn't) market everything to the American public. Looking at the weak and very selective use of intel for invading Iraq, the rhetoric about responding to Katrina, the BS about what was known and warned about 9/11, the obvious failures of management and lack of foresight in planning for post invasion Iraq, even the questionable admission of Cheney's hunting accident, etc... There is always a tremendous amount of effort to spin, and yet always contend that they don't respond to polls.

This marketing effort is so deliberate and crucial to their survival that fact, reason and reality are projected as insignificant. Everything is done with image and perception in mind, to the point of being surreal. War is peace. Heck of a job. Mission Accomplished.
Things that are clearly one way, are pronounced to be completely another. Language is manipulated for maximum effect (smoking gun/mushroom cloud; there are no rebels or insurgents—they are all terrorists; homicide, not suicide bombers)
Predictions that were made pre-9/11, pre-Iraq, pre-Katrina, are flat out denied. And rather than address these paradoxes, the administration finds it more valuable to discredit and cast doubt on critics. Muddy the water and use surrogates to do so in order to appear untainted (swiftboat liars, talk radio). So important is this technique, that acts of treason, or at least obstruction of justice are implemented to protect the cabal.
It’s sadly obvious that the 30% (and shrinking) of the country that still approve of Bush are completely desperate when the same people that despise Bill Clinton point to his lie as a justification for accepting Bush’s.

7:44 PM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

What's wrong with Bush, as CiC, making a decision that he felt the opinions of the CIA made more sense than the other ones regarding the tubes? That's his job - he's not there to say, "Well, they could be this, or this, or this..." - his job is to make the FINAL assessment on such a thing. As it's clear Saddam did in fact have WMD's at some point (good comment bassizzzt), he made a logical one.

3:53 AM  
Blogger zen said...

What's wrong with Bush is the intentional manipulation and the use of very selective intel ("cherry picking") as evidence to support a pre-made decision—war in Iraq. Bush and those that surround him had their eyes on Iraq even before 9/11 (see Paul O'neil). War was the plan, and it became a matter of how to sell it and make it happen.
Sure the US went to the UN, but only to get others behind our war effort—NOT to avert war. Remember it was a "coalition of the willing"—willing for what? War. Bush told inspectors to get out of the way, and then went against the determination of the UN, and yet still pointed to the UN as justification.
Aside from these manuvers to create war, the marketing of what this war would cost in terms of lives and treasure, how the US would be greeted, etc. were all "sold" to the US public as well.
Post-invasion, the 'selling' of this war continues. From the BS Jessica Lynch story, the Pat Tilman cover-up, the planting of friendly stories in Iraqi media, the 'Mission Accomplished' costume party, and of course it continues. It's disrespectful, it's offensive to the public and an abuse of the agreement we have with our military.
The deceit is firm as the mission evolves. We did not go into Iraq to fight terrorists, we did not go into Iraq to rebuild mosques. We went to Iraq to disarm Saddam, what proof do we have that we've done that? You can site newsmax, but that's hardly an unbiased, trust worthy source. And further do you honestly believe that if there were any shred what-so-ever of substance to this claim, that the administration and every hawk out there wouldn't be screaming this from the mountaintops?
Now what do we have from the "with us, or against us" administration? Port deals with governments whose ties to terror are much, much more solid and undeniable than Saddam's ever were. The 9/11 commision gives the admin F's and D's on boarder security (including ports and airspace), preparedness for an inevitable attack (think FEMA and Katrina, something we knew was coming), etc.. Yet you want to convince me that Bush is strong on national security?!

We could continue to debate the merits for war over and over, but at the end of the day it becomes clear that the image that is attempting to be sold to us, does not jibe with reality. We must lift the veil, and stop being blind-folded by the flag, and look at the fact that the efforts and policies of this administration have in fact NOT made the world more safe, more secure; have NOT stabilized the middle east. The reality is they have given strength to and galvanized extremists in the Palistininan territories, Egypt, Iran.

9:50 AM  
Blogger Bassizzzt said...

Regarding the WMD in Iraq, I'll always maintain that there was, and perhaps STILL is, WMD in Iraq.

But the ports and border situation has me gravely concerned. For the first time we're hearing familiar names like Frist, (Hillary, NOT Bill) Clinton, Biden, and a grand mix of Republicans and Democrats alike - incuding myself - who stands against this ridiculous port deal - and I am appalled that nothing much has been done.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - I am extremely disappointed in Bush's apologetic stance alongside Islam, his desire to even go as far as to rebuild a mosque in Iraq, and even delaring that Islam is a religion of peace.

It's downright sickening. I get a headache from thinking that this president even has a scrotum to begin with, which in this case is about as useless as tits on a nun.

We need a hardliner, ultra-conservative in the white house that won't put up with any crap from radical Islam, would say hell no to rebuilding mosques, and isn't afraid to do something without first worrying what people will think or do against him.

In other words, we need another Ronald Reagan.

11:04 PM  
Blogger zen said...

Well, itnis my opinion that an even more militant response will bring us no closer to lasting peace or security.

Was Reagan as tough as you've described?
Case-in-point, how did Reagan respond to the bombing of a US barricks in Beruit—he withdrew. The threat of Communism was dealt with largely with in-action, after all it is known as the "Cold" war. And we should also recognize that the build-up of nuclear weapons during the Reagan era, are precisely what threaten us now—accidents as well as falling into hands of rouges and terrorists.
Reagan won in landslides because he appealed to the greater collective of American's, something a no-BS hardliner could not have done.

Copy Editor>> you ever going to jump in with your wisdom?

8:53 AM  
Blogger Bassizzzt said...

Reagan was tougher than his predecessors against Communism, that is for sure. I mean, come on. Carter? What a joke he was. Reagan won the cold war. He outspent our adversary and had them begging at the bargaining table to stop researching and developing a weapons system nicknamed "star wars" that never even existed.

At least Kennedy did something right by declaring to Kruschev "we will feed you" in response to his "we will bury you" and ironically, just before the fall of the Soviet Union, recall all of that USDA beef that was found rotting in rail cars outside of Moscow.

9:09 AM  
Blogger zen said...

Can of Worms Alert...we seem to be starying off topic "All the President's Intellegence."

The current president is Bush, and it's time we get this guy some clothes.

9:50 AM  
Blogger copy editor said...

Those aluminum tubes were better suited for ice cream than nuclear weapons.

Zen, ha, I have no wisdom. We're not going to attack Iran though. We can't do it militarily. Well, we can launch cruise missles and air strikes -- a very Clinton-esque response -- but we can't put in ground troops. We probably can't even launch an air war because we are very vulnerable in Iraq. I also read that Israel at best has 20 F 15s that could hit some of those nuke sites, but they'd need to launch a number of sorties over many days to hit enough to be confident that Iran's been slowed.

Bush has reduced our options in the Middle East in stunning ways.

12:23 PM  
Blogger zen said...

Is simply recognizing Bush's ineptitude enough? Is exposing the constant mismanagement, incompetance, spin to the point of falacy, enough? The ultimate goal should be accountability and a corrective course for the country should it not?

At first it was just those who opposed Bush from the start; those who viewed him as illegitimately placed into office. Then the bitter pill was swallowed by most after 9/11, and his approval was high. But many things since then have soured the country.
This presidency is viewed by a wide majority (70%) as a failure. These numbers are sustained and evident in any poll. When the die-hard supporters try to spin things to focus on "what history will say", you know its bad now.

So what's all this mean? Most people no longer need to be convinced, they get it: Despite his best efforts Bush has failed us.
But what's next? Do we suffer through the term, and just pray that things don't get worse? When the best indicator of future behavior, is past behavior, that seems unlikely. Do we have any recourse, or is it just "stay the course?" Will the midterm elections provide for a voice of reform, and if they do will that voice be heard?

1:19 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

It is possible that things will change in a dramatic way in November. It may not be likely, because most House seats are deemed safe by people that know a lot more than I do.

It would be nice to get one branch of the Congress and perform some oversight. That was evident to excess in the Clinton years, but not since the GOP majority.

I do not think waiting on the sidelines will make things better. I actually think we are in a lot of trouble with the next Hurricane season and UBL (plus Zarqawi) still out there.

2:46 PM  
Blogger Bassizzzt said...

Four US carrier battle groups enter the Persian Gulf.

We can't do WHAT militarily, CE??

12:11 AM  
Blogger copy editor said...

Bassizzzt, last time I checked there weren't infantry divisions on our carriers.

"We're not going to attack Iran though. We can't do it militarily. Well, we can launch cruise missles and air strikes -- a very Clinton-esque response -- but we can't put in ground troops. We probably can't even launch an air war because we are very vulnerable in Iraq."

;-)

9:28 AM  
Blogger zen said...

Well we see the surrogates attempting to prep the public and rally support for extending war into Syria and Iran. I heard reports this morning pressing the issue that bombs in Iraq are coming from Iran, and the Saddam tapes that implicate Syria.

Is this the part where we start telling our allies to get in line behind us?

10:45 AM  
Blogger Steve Harkonnen said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:16 AM  
Blogger copy editor said...

Looks like Russia jumped back in line today.

4:14 PM  

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