The WMD Debate


The Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction

Through January 2004

See also Congressional Investigation of pre-Iraq War intelligence.

Materials presented chronologically.

MacMichael, David, and Ray McGovern. "WMD: Where? Find? Plant?" CounterPunch, 26 Apr. 2003. []

"While the odds of [the United States 'planting' weapons of mass destruction in Iraq] seem less than even, speculation on the possibility drove us down memory lane. Likely or not in present circumstances, there is ample precedent for such covert action operations. VIPS [Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity] member David MacMichael authored this short case-study paper to throw light on this little known subject."

Goodman, Amy. "'The Crazies Are Back': Bush Sr.'s CIA Briefer Recalls How the First Bush Administration Referred to Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld and Cheney." Information Clearing House, 17 Sep. 2003. []

Transcript of "Democracy Now!" program: "Former CIA analysts Ray McGovern and David MacMichael accuse President Bush of waging the Iraq war based on a series of lies, discuss the unprecedented pressure that VP Dick Cheney put on the CIA before the invasion and call on CIA analysts and agents to come forward with information that will reveal the lies of the Bush administration."

Hersh, Seymour M. "The Stovepipe: How Conflicts Between the Bush Administration and the Intelligence Community Marred the Reporting on Iraq's Weapons." New Yorker, 27 Oct. 2003, 7-87.

Cohen, Stuart A. "Myths About Intelligence." Washington Post, 28 Nov. 2003, A41. []

This is an attempt to straightened out a bent perception of the nature of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) concerning Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The author was acting chairman of the National Intelligence Council (NIC) when the NIE was published. He states: "I believed at the time the estimate was approved for publication and still believe now that we were on solid ground in reaching the judgments we did."

Pincus, Walter. "Intelligence Weaknesses Are Cited; Draft Says Agencies Not Equal to Needs of Preemptive Attack Policy." Washington Post, 29 Nov. 2003, A18. [http://www.washingtonpost. com]

A nongovernmental study by Anthony H. Cordesman, a Middle East and intelligence expert and senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), asserts that "[m]ore than 10 years' work by U.S. and British intelligence agencies on Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons or programs has 'major gaps and serious intelligence problems.'" He found that "the Iraq experience shows that U.S. intelligence is 'not yet adequate to support grand strategy and tactical operations against proliferating powers or to make accurate assessments of the need to preempt.'"

A second nongovernmental study, by physicist David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) and a consultant to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), "on the Bush administration's controversial claim that Iraq was seeking specialized aluminum tubes to use in a centrifuge to create nuclear weapons material, raises questions about whether senior policymakers ignored technically qualified critics to promote the Iraqi threat."

According to congressional sources, "Cordesman's and Albright's conclusions reflect many of the draft findings of inquiries underway by the House and Senate intelligence committees.... Those committees are not expected to report their findings until next year."

Berger, Rose Marie, and Jim Rice. "The Burden of Truth." Sojourners Magazine 32, no. 6 (Nov.-Dec. 2003). []

"Full transcript of interviews with former CIA analysts" Ray McGovern and David MacMichael. In the build up toward the war in Iraq, McGovern says that "there was very little substance to the main charges with respect to weapons of mass destruction."

Isenberg, David, and Ian Davis. "Unravelling the Known Unknowns: Why No Weapons of Mass Destruction Have Been Found in Iraq." British American Security Information Council (BASIC) Special Report 2004.1. Jan. 2004. []

From "Executive Summary": With regard to Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), "[t]he conclusion is inescapable: there is nothing to be found. This means that President Bush and Prime Minister Blair made a WMD mountain out of what, at best, was a molehill.... The main conclusion [of this study] is that the failure to find banned weapons in Iraq suggests very strongly that the UN weapons inspectors succeeded in their mandate, and that the Iraqi government complied with its obligations."

Pincus, Walter, and Dana Milbank. "Kay Backs Outside Probe of Iraq Data: Ex-Inspector Again Says Forbidden Arms Probably Didn't Exist." Washington Post, 29 Jan. 2004, A1. [http://www.]

David Kay, the former head of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), told the Senate Armed Services Committee on 28 January 2004 "that there should be an independent investigation into the flawed intelligence about Saddam Hussein's weapons capability.... Kay repeated his previous assertions that stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction probably did not exist in Iraq."

Pollack, Kenneth M. "Spies, Lies, and Weapons: What Went Wrong?" Atlantic Monthly 293, no. 1 (Jan.-Feb. 2004): 78-92.

Return to WMD Table of Contents