Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 3, Number 14 May 11 - 17, 2003 Quezon City, Philippines
Officers Challenge Bush
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
FOR: The President
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
write to express deep concern over the growing mistrust and cynicism with which
many, including veteran intelligence professionals inside and outside our
movement, regard the intelligence cited by you and your chief advisers to
justify the war against Iraq. The controversy over intelligence on Iraq has deep
roots, going back a decade. It came to a head over recent months as intelligence
was said to be playing a key role in support of your administration's decision
to make war on Iraq. And the controversy has now become acute, since you have
been backed into the untenable position of assuming the former role of Saddam
Hussein in refusing to cooperate with UN inspectors. (Chief UN nuclear inspector
Mohamed ElBaradei noted earlier this week, ``We have years of experience and
know every scientist worth interviewing.'') The implications not only for US
credibility abroad but also for the future of US intelligence are immense. They
need to be addressed without delay.
pundits (and, quite probably, some of your own advisers) are now saying it does
not matter whether so-called ``weapons of mass destruction'' are ever found in
Iraq. Don't let them fool you. It matters a great deal. The Wall Street Journal
had it right in its page-one lead article on April 8:
Debate Involving the UN in Verification:
forces in Iraq are rapidly confronting two other tasks (besides hunting down
Saddam Hussein) of enormous importance: finding any weapons of mass destruction
and convincing the world the finds are real. The weapons search is a critical
one for the Bush administration, which went to war charging that the Iraqi
leader had hidden huge amounts of chemical and biological weapons and could pass
them on to terrorists. If the US doesn't make any undisputed discoveries of
forbidden weapons, the failure will feed already-widespread skepticism abroad
about the motives for going to war.''
failure to find weapons of mass destruction six weeks after US and UK forces
invaded Iraq suggests either that such weapons are simply not there, or that
those eventually found there will not be in sufficient quantity or capability to
support your repeated claim that Iraq posed a grave threat to our country's
security. Your opposition to inviting UN inspectors into Iraq feeds the
suspicion that you wish to avoid independent verification; some even suggest
that your administration wishes to preserve the option of ``planting'' such
weapons to be ``discovered'' later. Sen. Carl Levin recently warned that, if
some are found ``Many people around the world will think we planted those
weapons, unless the UN inspectors are there with us.''
matters still further, foreign resistance is building to lifting the economic
sanctions against Iraq until the UN can certify that Iraq is free of weapons of
mass destruction. Russian President Vladimir Putin this week joined others in
insisting that only UN weapons inspectors can reliably certify that. With
considerable bite and sarcasm, he asked Prime Minister Tony Blair on April 29,
``Where are these arsenals of weapons of mass destruction, if they were there?''
is at play here is a policy and intelligence fiasco of monumental proportions.
It is essential that you be able to separate fact from fiction-for your own
sake, and for the credibility of our country's intelligence community. We urge
you to do two things immediately:
Invite UN inspectors to return to Iraq without further delay; and
Ask Gen. Brent Scowcroft, Chair of your Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, to
launch an immediate inquiry into the performance of the CIA and other
intelligence agencies in providing the intelligence upon which you have based
your fateful decision for war against Iraq.
may not realize the extent of the current ferment within the Intelligence
Community and particularly the CIA. In intelligence, there is one unpardonable
sin-cooking intelligence to the recipe of high policy. There is ample indication
that this has been done with respect to Iraq. What remains not entirely clear is
who the cooks are and where they practice their art. Are their kitchens only in
the Pentagon, the National Security Council, and the Vice President's office?
There are troubling signs, as will be seen below, that some senior officials of
the CIA may be graduates of the other CIA-the Culinary Institute of America.
there have been occasions in the past when intelligence has been deliberately
warped for political purposes, never before has such warping been used in such a
systematic way to mislead our elected representatives into voting to authorize
launching a war. It is essential that all this be sorted out; Gen. Scowcroft is
uniquely qualified to lead such an investigation.
things are already quite clear to us from our own sources and analysis. We
present them below in the hope that our findings will help get the investigation
off to a quick start.
of the many lawmakers who believe they were deceived last summer and fall, Rep.
Henry Waxman (D-CA) wrote you a letter on March 17, asking that you explain why
``evidence'' that your administration knew to be forged was used with him and
others to garner votes for the war. Waxman was referring to bogus correspondence
purporting to show that Iraq was trying to obtain in Africa uranium for nuclear
weapons, and noted that it was the perceived need to prevent Iraq from
developing nuclear weapons that provided ``the most persuasive justification''
for war. The continued lack of any White House response to Waxman's letter can
only feed the suspicion that there is no innocent explanation and that the use
of the forged material was deliberate.
to find out what had happened, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), vice-chair of the
Senate intelligence oversight committee, suggested that the committee ask the
FBI investigate, but committee chair Pat Roberts (R-OK) resisted-giving a fresh
meaning to the word ``oversight.'' Roberts said through a spokeswoman that it
was ``inappropriate for the FBI to investigate at this point.'' Roberts then
declined to join Rockefeller in signing a letter to the FBI requesting an
investigation. Rockefeller sent one anyway but the response he has just received
from the Bureau was a brush-off. Unless you give FBI Director Robert Mueller
different instructions, it appears doubtful that any genuine investigation will
Waxman is right to point out that the specter of Saddam Hussein armed with
nuclear weapons was the crucial element that convinced many representatives and
senators to vote to give you the authority to use military force against Iraq.
It is now clear that bogus intelligence fed lawmakers' fears before the vote on
October 11, 2002.
Memorandum: ``Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs''
October 4, 2002, a week before Congress voted on the war resolution, the
National Intelligence Council, an interagency body under the CIA Director as
head of the entire Intelligence Community, published an unclassified version of
a memorandum that had been briefed to Congressmen and Senators over the previous
the key judgments: ``Most analysts assess Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear
clumsy clause conceals a crass cave-in. The preponderant view, then as now,
among nuclear scientists and engineers of the Intelligence Community and the
Department of Energy's national laboratories is that Iraq had not been able to
reconstitute in any significant way the nuclear development program dismantled
by UN inspectors prior to 1998. The conclusions of the vast majority of analysts
dovetailed with the findings repeatedly presented to the UN by International
Atomic Energy Agency Director Mohamed ElBaradei and his inspectors after their
inspection work at the turn of the year; i. e., that Iraq had no nuclear program
worthy of the name.
NIC memorandum's discussion of alleged Iraqi attempts to reconstitute a nuclear
weapons program does not pass muster as rigorous analysis. The only data offered
that can remotely be called ``evidence'' is Iraq's efforts to obtain
high-strength aluminum tubes. The NIC memorandum claims, again, that ``most
intelligence specialists'' believe the rods were intended for use in uranium
enrichment, while ``some believe that these tubes are probably intended for
conventional weapons programs.''
truth is just the opposite. Those who posit a nuclear application are in the
distinct minority in the US and foreign intelligence, scientific, and
rest of the ``evidence'' adduced to support the existence of a ``Nuclear Weapons
Program'' includes Baghdad's failure to provide inspectors with all the
information sought, the fact Saddam Hussein held frequent meetings with nuclear
scientists, and the surmise that Baghdad ``probably uses some money from illicit
oil sales to support its weapons of mass destruction efforts.'' The memorandum
concedes that the IAEA ``made significant strides toward dismantling Iraq's
nuclear weapons program,'' but claims that, in the absence of inspections since
late 1998, ``most analysts assess that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear
program.'' ``Most analysts'' in the Pentagon, perhaps; and in the Vice
President's office, surely; in the intelligence/scientific/engineering
how soon Iraq could go nuclear, the NIC memorandum states ``Iraq is unlikely to
produce indigenously enough weapons-grade material for a deliverable nuclear
weapon until the last half of this decade.'' It goes on to say that Iraq could
produce a nuclear weapon ``within a year,'' if it could acquire the necessary
fissile material abroad.
your speech of October 7, 2002, just four days before the vote in Congress, your
advisers had you blur that distinction and raise the prospect that if Iraq could
``produce, buy, or steal'' highly enriched uranium, it could have a nuclear
weapon in less than a year. You went on to warn that ``the smoking gun could
come in the form of a mushroom cloud.'' (The ``mushroom cloud'' specter was
again used on October 8 by National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice with Wolf
Blitzer on national TV, and on October 9 by Assistant Secretary of Defense for
Public Affairs Victoria Clarke with TV commentator Sam Donaldson.)
the NIC memorandum does not include the information from the forgery purporting
to show that Iraq was trying to get uranium from Niger, although that material
had been around for at least several weeks. Since the other ``evidence,'' like
the argument from aluminum rods, was presented in such a way as to play up the
threat from Iraq, the absence of the forgery information is conspicuous. Its
absence may be explained by the reluctance of the purveyors of that information
to make available the actual source material, which representatives of the
various intelligence agencies preparing the NIC paper would have required, and
the consequent likelihood that the hoax would be prematurely uncovered.
the ``Intelligence'' on Weapons of Mass Destruction?
Rangwala, the Cambridge University analyst who exposed the plagiarism by British
intelligence of ``evidence'' on Iraq from a graduate student in California,
suggests that much of the information on such weapons has come from Ahmed
Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress (INC), which has received Pentagon money for
intelligence gathering. ``The INC saw the demand and provided what was needed,''
says Rangwala. ``The implication is that they polluted the whole US intelligence
is well known in intelligence circles that Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul
Wolfowitz has overseen the polluting of the stream of intelligence reporting on
Iraq with a flood of fabricated material from Chalabi, who has few supporters
and still fewer sources inside Iraq. When both the CIA and the Defense
Intelligence Agency refused to give credence to such reporting, Defense
Secretary Rumsfeld set up his own intelligence analysis unit headed by Rich
Haver-a passed-over but still ambitious aspirant to the post of CIA director.
The contribution of reporting from émigrés has been highly touted for months
by Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, who seem unaware of Machiavelli's warning that of all
intelligence sources, exiles are the least reliable.
the face of like admonitions from the Intelligence Community, Wolfowitz has
chosen to take the offensive. He has stated in public, for example, that CIA
analysis ``is not worth the paper it is written on.''
Beske, San Diego
McGrath Christison, Santa Fe
Christison, Santa Fe
McGovern, Arlington, VA
Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) is a coast-to-coast enterprise;
mostly intelligence officers from analysis side of CIA. Ray McGovern (firstname.lastname@example.org)
worked as a CIA analyst for 27 years.
May 1, 2003