Chapter One of the just-completed report [.pdf] by the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction purports to be a case study of the intelligence used to justify Operation Iraqi Freedom:
"As war loomed, the U.S. Intelligence Community was charged with telling policymakers what it knew about Iraq’s nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs. The Community’s best assessments were set out in an October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, or NIE, a summation of the Community’s views.
"The title, ‘Iraq’s Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction,’ foretells the conclusion: that Iraq was still pursuing its programs for weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
"Specifically, the NIE assessed that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear weapons program and could assemble a device by the end of the decade; that Iraq had biological weapons and mobile facilities for producing biological warfare (BW) agent; that Iraq had both renewed production of chemical weapons, and probably had chemical weapons stockpiles of up to 500 metric tons; and that Iraq was developing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) probably intended to deliver BW agent.
"These assessments were all wrong."
"As war loomed"? Were you soccer moms aware in the summer of 2002 that war with Iraq was looming?
Of course, as we now know, the first order of business of the Bush-Cheney administration once it came to power was to invade and occupy Iraq, and every weenie in the White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department, as well as the neo-crazies in and out government and their media sycophants, knew it.
But they needed an excuse and a rationale.
The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 gave them the excuse. A few days later, Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz departed from his prepared speech carried on C-Span to reveal that the Pentagon had already developed a multi-billion dollar plan of attack, but that, "We would never have thought of that [terrorist attack] excuse."
How about a rationale? Well, Wolfowitz spilled the beans, there, too.
“The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason.”
So, "Slam-Dunk" Tenet was directed to prepare "Iraq’s Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction."
But, scroll back to 1995, when Tenet was deputy director of the CIA.
General Hussein Kamel, director of Saddam’s nuke and chem-bio weapons programs (and also Saddam’s son-in-law), had defected to Jordan, carrying with him thousands of WMD program documents.
Kamel was extensively debriefed by UN officials and the CIA.
Kamel revealed that Iraq at his direction had already destroyed all chemical and biological agents and weapons, including the missiles to deliver them. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had discovered and destroyed what remained of the unsuccessful Iraqi nuke program.
Quoth Kamel, “Nothing remained.”
By 1998, the UN inspectors were able to verify to the UN Security Council that Kamel had indeed told the truth. Whereupon several members proposed that the “sanctions” imposed on Iraq in 1991 be lifted.
Clinton-Gore refused. Secretary of State Albright declared, "We do not agree with the nations who argue that if Iraq complies with its obligations concerning weapons of mass destruction, sanctions should be lifted."
The Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 went even further: “It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime.”
Thus empowered, Clinton proceeded to launch Operation Desert Fox, a five-day intensive bombing campaign over Bagdad, an obvious attempt to kill Saddam.
As a result, Saddam didn’t allow the UN inspectors back in Iraq until November 2002. Hence, when Tenet produced his NIE, it is conceivable barely that Saddam might have made some attempt to reconstruct his "WMD" programs.
But by mid-March of 2003, Chairman Blix of the Monitoring and Verification Commission and Director-General ElBaradei of the IAEA were reporting after checking out many of Tenet’s alleged “WMD sites” that they could find no indication that there had been any attempts to reconstruct Iraq’s WMD programs or facilities since 1991.
Saddam was not a threat to anyone, much less to you soccer moms.
Hence, on the eve of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Bush and Congress should have known that every judgment and assumption in Tenet’s NIE was wrong.
And deliberately so. Does the Commission realize that, even now?