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Iraq Intelligence Tensions Essay

1451 words - 6 pages

Eleven years on from the invasion, the Iraq war remains an unforgettable sequence of events for people around the world, especially American’s and one of the greatest intelligence failures in living history. The pre-war intelligence gathered by the CIA suggested that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and connections with al-Qaeda. American officials did everything to prepare the entire world and the entire globe for war against Iraq. The intelligence collected, key to the invasion, was subsequently wishful thinking and wrong. The striking thing about prewar U.S. intelligence is that it played such a small role in one of the most important U.S. policy decisions in recent ...view middle of the document...

Whereas policy makers thus influence which topics intelligence agencies address but not the conclusions they reach. The Bush administration used intelligence not to inform decision-making, but to justify a decision already made. Congress asked for the now-infamous Intelligence Community’s October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq’s unconventional weapons programs, although few members of Congress actually read the document (Adams).
The Bush Administration got away from the professionalism that is supposed to come along with being in the White House not only using policy to drive intelligence, but also using intelligence to win public support for it decision to go to war. Just like cherry picking in a sporting event, they pulled selective intelligence rather than using the intelligence community’s own analytic judgments. A great example of this was when President Bush assured the United States in his State of the Union address that Iraq was purchasing uranium ore in Niger, Africa. This was considered an important step in its suspected nuclear weapons program because Baghdad’s lack of fissile material was a huge constraint in order to produce nuclear weapons. CIA director at the time George Tenet told the White House speechwriters to not include a line about Iraq’s attempts to import uranium from Africa because intelligence officials had huge doubts about any such transaction taking place (Kerr). But the administration included it anyways, referring to it as information from a British source, not a reliable U.S. source. Policy makers act with an eye to what supports his or her case, not necessarily using the whole truth. It was no surprise to the U.N.’s Chief of Weapons Inspector at the time. In an interview with NPR he recalls talking to Condoleezza Rice about the intelligence being iffy and he said “Intelligence is never 100%. But it is not the intelligence that is indicted. It is the Iraqis who are” (Gonyea). Another example of using selective intelligence would be the in-famous “curveball”. An Iraqi defect who fled to Germany attempting to be granted asylum, claimed to be a chemical engineer in Saddam’s Iraq, and he had been made director of a site at Djerf al Nadaf, just outside Baghdad where nuclear weapons were supposedly produced (CBSNEWS). U.S. intelligence never had direct contact with curveball but they took the German’s Intelligence knowledge for granted and ran with it. The supposed “backbone” of the invasion, was mentioned in Colin Powell’s 2003 speech to the United Nations, as a major “inside source” to Saddam’s inner circle. But “curveball” fabricated his relation to Saddam and the chemical and biological weapons that were on the move because he wanted Saddam out of control.
One of the largest differences between the administration’s public statements and the intelligence community’s judgments didn’t concern WMDs, but the relationship between Saddam and al Qaeda. This topic got enormous attention from the media and...

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