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Map of Iraq
10.29.04
Politics and Economy:
The Road to War
More on This Story:
The administration left no room for doubt about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq in the Fall of 2002, pushing for strong action. Shortly after Secretary of State Colin Powell declared that Iraq's "deadly weapons programs" were "real and present dangers to the region and to the world," Congress voted to authorize the use of force against Iraq. But over the past two years, evidence has emerged indicating that the threat may indeed have been overstated. In June 2003, NOW addressed the question of evidence behind Iraq's suspected weapons of mass destruction. Increasingly since that time, the public, the media, and even intelligence insiders, have started calling on the Bush administration to come clean about whether Iraq's threat was exaggerated.

In June 2003, Greg Thielmann — formerly of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, one of the offices charged with tracking Iraq's weapons of mass destruction — told Bill Moyers on NOW:

The intelligence community as a whole in our considered wording and advice did not give the President the impression that there was an imminent threat.... The one thing that we should have made clear to the American people was that Saddam had no nuclear weapons.
In October 2004, Thielmann speaks with Bill Moyers again, describing how the government presented a distortion of the intelligence agencies' findings to the public. And increasingly, evidence to this effect is coming out into the open.

Congress has not yet been able to investigate to what extent the White House may have manipulated intelligence information. But recent reports have shown that despite the administration's unequivocal claims about the urgency of the Iraq threat, there was strong disagreement within the intelligence community.

Below, take a look at some of the important U.S. reports that have been released over the past two years concerning intelligence on Iraq.


Senate Intelligence Committee Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq
In June 2003, the Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, and vice-chaired by John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, began a review of U.S. prewar intelligence concerning Iraq and the existence of its weapons programs. The report, published more than a year later, on July 7, 2004, concluded that most of the intelligence communities' key judgments were "either overstated, or were not supported by, the underlying intelligence reporting." This FindLaw page contains the complete report as well as links to numerous other documents, resolutions, and reports.

The Duelfer Report
The Duelfer Report, prepared by Charles Duelfer and the Iraq Survey Group, and issued on September 30, 2004, pieces "together the evidence of the Iraqi WMD programs such as they existed." In it, Duelfer concludes that, as summarized by the WASHINGTON POST, "Saddam Hussein was not motivated by a desire to strike the United States with banned weapons, but wanted them to enhance his image in the Middle East and to deter Iran, against which Iraq had fought a devastating eight-year war." While some argue the report contains data that could be seen as justification for going into Iraq, Duelfer clearly states that inspectors found no evidence of "concerted efforts to restart the [nuclear weapons] program."

Iraqi Mobile Biological Warfare Agent Production Plants
This document from May 28, 2003, purports to address evidence of Iraq's mobile biological weapon program. In April and May of that year, coalition forces found three tractor trailers that some believed were for production of biological weapons agents. But when Colin Powell was preparing for a speech to the UN, he was informed in a memo from the State Department that "the decontamination vehicles — cited several times in the text — are water trucks that can have legitimate uses." Nevertheless, addressing the Security Council two days later, Powell played up the possibility that such vehicles were a threat.

De-Classified DIA report (PDF)
The Defense Intelligence Agency produced a report in September 2002 entitled "Iraq — Key WMD Facilities — An Operational Support Study." This declassified section of the report addresses Iraq's Chemical Weapons capabilities. While stating that Iraq "probably possesses CW agent in chemical munitions, possibly including artillery rockets, artillery shells, aerial bombs, and ballistic missile warheads," the report stresses that there is no "direct information" to prove this. Elsewhere, the study explains: "There is no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons or where Iraq has — or will — establish its chemical warfare agent production facilities."

Classified National Intelligence Estimate and CIA White Paper
A chart from the July Senate Intelligence Committee Report comparing the CIA's white paper of October 4, 2002 to the classified National Intelligence Estimate it was based on. According to the Senate Intelligence Committee, the white paper removed caveats and alternatives views offered by the original NIE.



Over the past several months, some of the country's major news sources have reevaluated evidence previously presented as fact. In May 2004, the NEW YORK TIMES' editorial board took itself to task. Citing numerous articles over the course of two years, the TIMES admits to having been lenient with verifying information received from its sources:

Accounts of Iraqi defectors were not always weighed against their strong desire to have Saddam Hussein ousted. Articles based on dire claims about Iraq tended to get prominent display, while follow-up articles that called the original ones into question were sometimes buried. In some cases, there was no follow-up at all.
Read the whole article: "The Times and Iraq."

A similar article appeared in the WASHINGTON POST three months later by staff writer Howard Kurtz, asserting that though the POST challenged the administration, it did not do so on the front page:

The result was coverage that, despite flashes of groundbreaking reporting, in hindsight looks strikingly one-sided at times.
Read the article: "The Post on WMDs: An Inside Story."

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