By Katherine Pfleger Shrader, Associated Press
09 July 2004
CIA evidence in the run-up to the Iraq war was "unreasonable and unsupported" say US senators.
The key US assertions leading to the 2003 invasion of Iraq - that Saddam Hussein had chemical and biological weapons and was working to make nuclear weapons - were wrong and based on false or overstated CIA analyses, says the Senate Intelligence Committee in a scathing report today.
The report repeatedly blasts departing CIA Director George Tenet, accusing him of skewing advice to top policy-makers with the CIA's view and elbowing out dissenting views from other intelligence agencies overseen by the State or Defense Departments. It faulted Tenet for not personally reviewing President George Bush's 2003 State of the Union address, which contained since-discredited references to Iraq's attempts to purchase uranium in Africa.
Tenet has resigned and leaves office this week.
Intelligence analysts worked from the assumption that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons and was seeking to make more, as well as trying to revive a nuclear weapons program. Instead, investigations after the Iraq invasion have shown that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had no nuclear weapons program and no biological weapons, and only small amounts of chemical weapons have been found.
Analysts ignored or discounted conflicting information because of their assumptions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, the report says.
"This 'group think' dynamic led Intelligence Community analysts, collectors and managers to both interpret ambiguous evidence as conclusively indicative of a WMD program as well as ignore or minimize evidence that Iraq did not have active and expanding weapons of mass destruction programs," the report concludes.
Such assumptions also led analysts to inflate snippets of questionable information into broad declarations that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons, the report says.
For example, speculation that the presence of one specialized truck could mean an effort to transfer chemical weapons was puffed up into a conclusion that Iraq was actively making chemical weapons, the report says.
Analysts also concluded that Iraq had a mobile biological weapons program based mainly on the since-discredited claims of one Iraqi defector code-named "Curve Ball," it says. American agents did not have direct access to Curve Ball or his debriefers, but the source's information was expanded into the conclusion that Iraq had an advanced and active biological weapons program, the report says.