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President in Public Statements Overstated Report on Links between Iraq and Al Qaeda

tnitsuj

Diamond Member
May 22, 2003
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washingtonpost.com
Report Cast Doubt on Iraq-Al Qaeda Connection


By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 22, 2003; Page A01


In a nationally televised address last October in which he sought to rally congressional support for a resolution authorizing war against Iraq, President Bush declared that the government of Saddam Hussein posed an immediate threat to the United States by outlining what he said was evidence pointing to its ongoing ties with al Qaeda.

A still-classified national intelligence report circulating within the Bush administration at the time, however, portrayed a far less clear picture about the link between Iraq and al Qaeda than the one presented by the president, according to U.S. intelligence analysts and congressional sources who have read the report.

The National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, which represented the consensus of the U.S. intelligence community, contained cautionary language about Iraq's connections with al Qaeda and warnings about the reliability of conflicting reports by Iraqi defectors and captured al Qaeda members about the ties, the sources said.

"There has always been an internal argument within the intelligence community about the connections between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda," said a senior intelligence official, who, like others interviewed for this article, spoke on condition of anonymity. "The NIE had alternative views."

Similar questions have been raised about Bush's statement in his State of the Union address last January that the British had reported Iraq was attempting to buy uranium in Africa, which the president used to back up his assertion that Iraq had a reconstituted nuclear weapons program. In that case, senior U.S. officials said, the CIA 10 months earlier sent a former senior American diplomat to visit Niger who reported that country's officials said they had not made any agreement to aid the sale of uranium to Iraq and indicated documents alleging that were forged. Details of that CIA Niger inquiry were not shared with the White House, although the agency succeeded in deleting that allegation from other administration statements.

Bush, in his speech in Cincinnati on Oct. 7, made his case that Iraq had ties with al Qaeda, by mentioning several items such as high-level contacts that "go back a decade." He said "we've learned" that Iraq trained al Qaeda members "in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases." Although the president offered essentially circumstantial evidence, his remarks contained none of the caveats about the reliability of this information as contained in the national intelligence document, sources said.

The presidential address crystallized the assertion that had been made by senior administration officials for months that the combination of Iraq's chemical and biological weapons and a terrorist organization, such as al Qaeda, committed to attacking the United States posed a grave and imminent threat. Within four days, the House and Senate overwhelmingly endorsed a resolution granting the president authority to go to war.

The handling of intelligence on Iraq's banned weapons programs and its links to al Qaeda has come under increased scrutiny on Capitol Hill, with some leading Democrats charging that the administration exaggerated the case against Hussein by publicizing intelligence that supported its policy and keeping contradictory information under wraps. The House intelligence committee opened a closed-door review into the matter last week; its Senate counterpart is planning similar hearings. The Senate Armed Services Committee is also investigating the issue.

Bush has defended his handling of intelligence before the war, calling his critics "revisionist historians."

"The intelligence services of many nations concluded that he had illegal weapons, and the regime refused to provide evidence they had been destroyed," Bush said in his weekly radio address yesterday. He vowed to search for "the true extent of Saddam Hussein's weapons programs, no matter how long it takes."

Questions about the reliability of the intelligence that Bush cited in his Cincinnati address were raised shortly after the speech by ranking Democrats on the Senate intelligence and armed services panel. They pressed the CIA to declassify more of the 90-page National Intelligence Estimate than a 28-page "white paper" on Iraq distributed on Capitol Hill on Oct. 4.

In one of the more notable statements made by the president, Bush said that "Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists," and added: "Alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints."

Bush did not indicate that the consensus of U.S. intelligence analysts was that Hussein would launch a terrorist attack against the United States only if he thought he could not stop the United States from invading Iraq. The intelligence report had said that the Iraqi president might decide to give chemical or biological agents to terrorists, such as al Qaeda, for use against the United States only as a "last chance to exact vengeance by taking a large number of victims with him." And it said this would be an "extreme step" by Hussein.

These conclusions in the report were contained in a letter CIA Director George J. Tenet sent to Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), then the chairman of the Senate intelligence panel, the day of Bush's speech.

While Bush also spoke of Iraq and al Qaeda having had "high-level contacts that go back a decade," the president did not say -- as the classified intelligence report asserted -- that the contacts occurred in the early 1990s, when Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda leader, was living in Sudan and his organization was in its infancy. At the time, the report said, bin Laden and Hussein were united primarily by their common hostility to the Saudi Arabian monarchy, according to sources. Bush also did not refer to the report's conclusion that those early contacts had not led to any known continuing high-level relationships between the Iraqi government and al Qaeda, the sources said.

The president said some al Qaeda leaders had fled Afghanistan to Iraq and referred to one "very senior al Qaeda leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year." It was a reference to Abu Mussab Zarqawi, a Jordanian. U.S. intelligence already had concluded that Zarqawi was not an al Qaeda member but the leader of an unaffiliated terrorist group who occasionally associated with al Qaeda adherents, the sources said.

As for Bush's claim that Iraq had trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making and use of poisons and deadly gases, sources with knowledge of the classified intelligence estimate said the report's conclusion was that this had not been satisfactorily confirmed.

"We've learned," Bush said in his speech, "that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases." But the president did not mention that when national security adviser Condoleezza Rice had referred the previous month to such training, she had said the source was al Qaeda captives.

The CIA briefed congressional committees about the National Intelligence Estimate but did not deliver the classified version until the evening of Oct. 1, just before a Senate intelligence committee hearing the next day, congressional sources said. At that closed-door session, several senators raised questions about qualifying statements made in the report, which was circulated only among senior national security officials.

On Oct. 4, three days before the president's speech, at the urging of members of Congress, the CIA released its declassified excerpts from the intelligence report as a "white paper" on Iraq's weapons programs and al Qaeda links. The members wanted a public document to which they could refer during floor debates on the Iraq war resolution.

The white paper did contain passages that hinted at the intelligence community's lack of certitude about Iraq's weapons programs and al Qaeda ties, but it omitted some qualifiers contained in the classified version. It also did not include qualifiers made at the Oct. 2 hearing by an unidentified senior intelligence official who, during his testimony, challenged some of the administration's public statements on Iraq.

"Senator Graham felt that they declassified only things that supported their position and left classified what did not support that policy," said Bob Filippone, Graham's deputy chief of staff. Graham, now a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, opposed the war resolution.

When the white paper appeared, Graham and Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), an intelligence panel member and at that time chairman of the Armed Services Committee, asked to have additional portions of the intelligence estimate as well as portions of the testimony at the Oct. 2 hearing made public.

On the day of Bush's speech, Tenet sent a letter to Graham with some of the additional information. The letter drew attention because it seemed to contradict Bush's statements that Hussein would give weapons to al Qaeda.

Tenet released a statement on Oct. 8 that said, "There is no inconsistency between our view of Saddam's growing threat and the view as expressed by the president in his speech." He went on to say, however, that the chance that the Iraqi leader would turn weapons over to al Qaeda was "low, in part because it would constitute an admission that he possesses" weapons of mass destruction.

On Oct. 9, the CIA sent a letter to Graham and Levin informing them that no additional portions of the intelligence report would be made public.



© 2003 The Washington Post Company

 

Moonbeam

Elite Member
Nov 24, 1999
66,929
3,735
126
Surely everybody knows by now that Bush is a complete and total fraud. You select a President without a brain and you're bound to have trouble. Cowboy might be OK for Texas but not in the developed world. The real question will be if there's enough simpletons nation wide to support a continuation of this joke next term.
 

CADsortaGUY

Lifer
Oct 19, 2001
25,162
1
76
www.ShawCAD.com
tnitsuj - will you ever stop just cutting and pasting crap you read? Sure, the articles you post are fine but anyone can go and read them - this isn't a news server - it is a news forum - Give some commentary on the stuff you cut and paste.

I think the NY Times is looking to hire you if you just rewrite the headline(thread topic ;) ) but copy the content.

CkG

*note - I know he cited his source;)
 

tnitsuj

Diamond Member
May 22, 2003
5,446
0
76
Originally posted by: CADkindaGUY
tnitsuj - will you ever stop just cutting and pasting crap you read? Sure, the articles you post are fine but anyone can go and read them - this isn't a news server - it is a news forum - Give some commentary on the stuff you cut and paste.

I think the NY Times is looking to hire you if you just rewrite the headline(thread topic ;) ) but copy the content.

CkG

*note - I know he cited his source;)
I am cutting and pasting articles because the New York times requires you to register. Washingtonpost also bugs you to enter demo info prior to reading and a lot of people don't like that. I generally just link other sites.

I am sorry if that offends you...but that is really just your own problem.
 

Moonbeam

Elite Member
Nov 24, 1999
66,929
3,735
126
but that is really just your own problem.
----------------------------------------------------
One of many. :D
 

Bowfinger

Lifer
Nov 17, 2002
15,776
392
126
Originally posted by: tnitsuj
I am cutting and pasting articles because the New York times requires you to register. Washingtonpost also bugs you to enter demo info prior to reading and a lot of people don't like that. I generally just link other sites.

I am sorry if that offends you...but that is really just your own problem.
Not really just his problem. These are copyrighted publications. Copying entire articles is likely a copyright infringement. In my personal opinion, it is better to post links with brief excerpts from the articles. This is generally considered fair use. It also helps the papers pay their bills so they can continue to offer on-line material.
 

Moonbeam

Elite Member
Nov 24, 1999
66,929
3,735
126
Interesting point there Bowfinger. I appreciate you posting this point of view. Me and Hayabusarider were trying to determine what the issues on this were the other day.
 

Hayabusa Rider

Admin Emeritus & Elite Member
Jan 26, 2000
50,880
4,212
126
Rats. :D

Now I cant do it as a matter of principle. Too bad so many Bush supporters don't have that problem. :p
 

CaptnKirk

Lifer
Jul 25, 2002
10,054
0
71
Quote:


I could while away the hours
Conferrin with the flowers
Consultin' with the rain
And my head I'd be scratchin'
While my thoughts were busy hatchin
If I only had a brain
I'd unravel every riddle
For any "individul"
In trouble or in pain
With the thoughts you'd be thinkin'
You could be another Lincoln
If you only had a brain
Oh I could tell you why
The ocean's near the shore
I could think of things I never thunk before
And then I'd sit
And think some more
I would not be just a nothin'
My head all full of stuffin'
My heart all full of pain
I would dance and be merry
Life would be a ding-a-derry
If I only had a brain
Gosh it would be awful pleasin'
To reason out the reason
For things I can't explain
Then perhaps I'll deserve 'ya
And be even worthy er've 'ya
If I only had a brain.
 

CADsortaGUY

Lifer
Oct 19, 2001
25,162
1
76
www.ShawCAD.com
Originally posted by: Bowfinger
Originally posted by: tnitsuj
I am cutting and pasting articles because the New York times requires you to register. Washingtonpost also bugs you to enter demo info prior to reading and a lot of people don't like that. I generally just link other sites.

I am sorry if that offends you...but that is really just your own problem.
Not really just his problem. These are copyrighted publications. Copying entire articles is likely a copyright infringement. In my personal opinion, it is better to post links with brief excerpts from the articles. This is generally considered fair use. It also helps the papers pay their bills so they can continue to offer on-line material.
I wouldn't neccessarily see a huge problem with him cutting and pasting if he had a point other than just cutting and pasting. tnitsuj has gotten into the habbit of posting stories or links without explaining HIS thoughts on the matter which *may* excuse his posting the whole article instead of tidbits of it. Bowfinger is correct IMO about the copyright stuff when that is all that is posted. If there was some original authoring to go along with the cut/paste then I could see a need to post it all for context purposes.
But, whatever - post away tnitsuj

CkG
 

JellyBaby

Diamond Member
Apr 21, 2000
9,159
1
81
I'm pretty sure it's not copyright infringement so long as author and copyright holder are clearly listed and the intent isn't to steal from or deprive the author of profit.

I think tnitsuj did the right thing to save us some time plus it's nice to save the text in the forum because links do go bad.

Oh, and, yes Bush alluded to but didn't backup links between Iraq and Al Qeerda. You're just getting lathered up about this now? Where were you when we needed you? ;)
 

Vadatajs

Diamond Member
Aug 28, 2001
3,475
0
0
Originally posted by: tnitsuj
Originally posted by: CADkindaGUY
tnitsuj - will you ever stop just cutting and pasting crap you read? Sure, the articles you post are fine but anyone can go and read them - this isn't a news server - it is a news forum - Give some commentary on the stuff you cut and paste.

I think the NY Times is looking to hire you if you just rewrite the headline(thread topic ;) ) but copy the content.

CkG

*note - I know he cited his source;)
I am cutting and pasting articles because the New York times requires you to register. Washingtonpost also bugs you to enter demo info prior to reading and a lot of people don't like that. I generally just link other sites.

I am sorry if that offends you...but that is really just your own problem.
Washington post demo info is harmless. Just sex, zipcode, and year of birth. You could at least provide a link for those of us who don't mind providing that info.
 

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