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Pentagon Report Finds War Intelligence Flawed But Lawful

A report released Friday by the Pentagon's inspector general found that a 2002 intelligence briefing on Iraq was faulty but legal. NewsHour analysts discuss the Senate Armed Services Committee's response to the report.

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  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    In a small committee room on Capitol Hill, the issue of pre-Iraq war intelligence again was at the center of a partisan debate. This time, it was the contentious matter of the relationship between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida, and how strongly a group inside the Pentagon was pushing that idea.

    It became a central selling point for the 2003 invasion.

    GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States: We know that Iraq and the al-Qaida terrorist network share a common enemy: the United States of America. We know that Iraq and al-Qaida have had high-level contacts that go back a decade.

    DONALD RUMSFELD, Former U.S. Secretary of Defense: We do have solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of al-Qaida members, including some that have been in Baghdad.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    But more than four years later, with mounting American and Iraqi casualties, a Pentagon report raised new questions about the reliability of that intelligence and how it was collected and distributed to top officials.

    The Defense Department's acting inspector general, Thomas Gimble, was highly critical of the Pentagon's planning office, led by then-Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith. Gimble testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

    THOMAS GIMBLE, Acting Inspector General, Department of Defense: We found that the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy developed, produced and then disseminated alternative intelligence assessments on Iraq and al-Qaida relations, which included conclusions that were inconsistent with the consensus of the intelligence community, and these were presented to senior decision-makers.

    While such actions are not illegal or unauthorized, the actions, in our opinion, were inappropriate, given that all the products did not clearly show the variance with the consensus of the intel community and, in some cases, were shown as intel products.

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