The WMD Debate


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

March 2004 -March 2005


See also Congressional Investigation of pre-Iraq War intelligence.

Materials presented chronologically.

MacMichael, David. "Untruth and Consequences." CounterPunch, 16 Mar. 2004. []

"It is now accepted ... that administration charges of Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction, links with and support for al-Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks, and the imminence of Baghdad's military threat were not true.... [A]dministration ... spokespersons ... who made the case for war ... now say that if they were wrong it was because the intelligence system failed to provide them with accurate information.... [W]e know ... that exile Iraqis and other agenda-driven people told lies to ideologically driven individuals in the Bush administration all too eager to use them to press their case for the invasion and occupation of Iraq."

Sanger, David E. "As a Lightning Rod Departs, a Contentious Issue Remains." New York Times, 4 Jun. 2004. []

George Tenet's "surprise departure" as DCI "removes from President Bush's inner circle one of the lightning rods for the criticism that America went to war based on faulty intelligence. But it also keeps Mr. Bush exposed to the election-year charge that his White House politicized the work of the intelligence agencies."

Jehl, Douglas. "C.I.A. Review Is Critical of Prewar Iraq Analysis." New York Times, 22 Sep. 2004. []

A "C.I.A. document, dated August 2004..., summarizes conclusions reached by a panel called the Iraq W.M.D. Review Group, which completed a 10-month review in May but has not made its findings public. Among the analytical flaws identified in the group's report were what was described as 'imprecise language' and 'insufficient follow-up' as well as 'sourcing problems' in the prewar intelligence on Iraq.... [T]he now-discredited National Intelligence Estimate of October 2002, which found that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons and was reconstituting its nuclear program, was not double-checked to be sure that its assertions were properly backed up."

Priest, Dana, and Walter Pincus. "U.S. 'Almost All Wrong' on Weapons: Report on Iraq Contradicts Bush Administration Claims." Washington Post, 7 Oct. 2004, A1. []

According to a report by the chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq, Charles A. Duelfer, "[t]he 1991 Persian Gulf War and subsequent U.N. inspections destroyed Iraq's illicit weapons capability and, for the most part, Saddam Hussein did not try to rebuild it."

Priest, Dana. "Officer Alleges CIA Retaliation: Lawsuit Says Agency Urged False Reporting on Iraqi Arms." Washington Post, 9 Dec. 2004, A2. []

In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Washington on 3 December 2004 and placed in the public court docket on 8 December 2004, "[a] senior CIA operative who handled sensitive informants in Iraq asserts that CIA managers asked him to falsify his reporting on weapons of mass destruction and retaliated against him after he refused."

Pincus, Walter. "Bush's Intelligence Panel Gains Stature: Duties Expanding Amid Uncertainty." Washington Post, 7 Feb. 2005, A19. []

Since its creation on February 6, 2004, President Bush's Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, has been given "additional responsibilities beyond reviewing intelligence successes and failures over the past four years. For example, after the president signed the intelligence restructuring bill on Dec. 17, the panel was ordered to review how it could be implemented."

Sanger, David E., and Scott Shane. "Panel's Report Assails C.I.A. for Failure on Iraq Weapons." New York Times, 29 Mar. 2005. []

The report of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction "includes a searing critique of how the C.I.A. and other agencies never properly assessed Saddam Hussein's political maneuverings or the possibility that he no longer had weapon stockpiles, according to officials who have seen the report's executive summary."

Pincus, Walter, and Peter Baker. "Dissent on Intelligence Is Critical, Report Says: Commission's Ideas Diverge From Planned Centralization." Washington Post, 30 Mar. 2005, A1. []

According to officials on 29 March 2005, the report of the WMD commission "will propose more competitive analysis and information-sharing by intelligence agencies, improved tradecraft training, more 'devil's advocacy' in the formation of national intelligence estimates and the appointment of an intelligence ombudsman to hear from analysts who believe their work has been compromised. The report will also suggest the creation of a new national nonproliferation center to coordinate the fight against weapons of mass destruction.... But unlike the trend toward greater centralization enshrined in a new intelligence law signed by President Bush, the report envisions the center as a facilitating body and urges the government to keep its specialists dispersed in various intelligence agencies."

Johnston, David, and Scott Shane. "Study Faults U.S. Response to Outlawed Arms." New York Times, 31 Mar. 2005. []

The report of the WMD commission, to be made public on 31 March 2005, "concludes that the [U.S.] government has failed to respond to the dire threat posed by unconventional weapons with the urgency and national purpose displayed after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor." However, even before the report's public release, "officials at some intelligence agencies privately expressed fatigue and scant enthusiasm for further reshuffling, noting the agencies have been in a continuous state of flux since the September 2001 attacks."

Pincus, Walter. "Intelligence Panel's Findings Criticized: Experts Call Suggestions Uninformed." Washington Post, 31 Mar. 2005, A17. []

Some of the recommendations to be officially presented on 31 March 2005 by President Bush's WMD commission "were already drawing criticism" on 30 March 2005 "inside and outside the intelligence community."

The Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction. Report to the President of the United States. 31 Mar. 2005. [Available at and at]

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