Tuesday, July 06, 2004

The New York Times > Intelligence: C.I.A. Held Back Iraqi Arms Data, Officials Say

The New York Times > Washington > Intelligence: C.I.A. Held Back Iraqi Arms Data, Officials Say:
"The Central Intelligence Agency was told by relatives of Iraqi scientists before the war that Baghdad's programs to develop unconventional weapons had been abandoned, but the C.I.A. failed to give that information to President Bush, even as he publicly warned of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's illicit weapons, according to government officials."

The existence of a secret prewar C.I.A. operation to debrief relatives of Iraqi scientists — and the agency's failure to give their statements to the president and other policymakers — has been uncovered by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The panel has been investigating the government's handling of prewar intelligence on Iraq's unconventional weapons and plans to release a wide-ranging report this week on the first phase of its inquiry. The report is expected to contain a scathing indictment of the C.I.A. and its leaders for failing to recognize that the evidence they had collected did not justify their assessment that Mr. Hussein had illicit weapons.

C.I.A. officials, saying that only a handful of relatives made claims that the weapons programs were dead, play down the significance of the information collected in the secret debriefing operation. That operation is one of a number of significant disclosures by the Senate investigation. The Senate report, intelligence officials say, concludes that the agency and the rest of the intelligence community did a poor job of collecting information about the status of Iraq's weapons programs, and that analysts at the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies did an even worse job of writing reports that accurately reflected the information they had.

Among the many problems that contributed to the committee's harsh assessment of the C.I.A.'s prewar performance were instances in which analysts may have misrepresented information, writing reports that distorted evidence in order to bolster their case that Iraq did have chemical, biological and nuclear programs, according to government officials. The Senate found, for example, that an Iraqi defector who supposedly provided evidence of the existence of a biological weapons program had actually said he did not know of any such program.

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/06/politics/06INTE.html?pagewanted=all&position=
con·cept: The New York Times > Intelligence: C.I.A. Held Back Iraqi Arms Data, Officials Say