Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Iraq WMD Intelligence Whitewash

One of the main headlines in the mainstream media today has been that the presidential commission investigating the intelligence failures regarding Iraq's WMD capabilities has issued its final report -- blaming the CIA and the rest of the intelligence community.

There may be some merit to this, but it seems that the scope of the investigation hobbled it from the start, since it looked only at the role of the agencies which are formally part of the intelligence community, and didn't look at the role of the Office of Special Plans or the Vice President's office. Now, with all of the rumblings about a backchannel from OSP directly into the White House for "intelligence" passed outside the normal channels, and pressure from these offices on the agencies of the formal intelligence community, an investigation which omits their role seems to be rather incomplete. That probably suits these guys just fine.

It also seems to suit the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee just fine as well, since he dropped the parallel congressional investigation of this aspect. As you may remember, it was agreed last summer that the second phase of the congressional investigation, focusing on political pressure, would be delayed until after the presidential election. Instead, it's been quietly dropped.

Unless there's some serious counterspin from the blogosphere very quickly (hence this post as a start), the conventional wisdom is going to be cemented that this was a "CIA mistake," without looking into the role of possible political pressure or intelligence backchannels. Are we going to let this happen?

Potential Action Item: If you have time to write a letter in regard to this story to your local newspaper, pointing out how flawed the scope of this investigation was, that would be a good start.


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