"Weapons of Mass Deception"


Lawmakers question whether Pentagon manipulated Iraq intelligence

By Chris Strohm

Lawmakers questioned this week whether policy offices inside the Pentagon exaggerated or misrepresented intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction to build a case for invading the country.

Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee asked Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld how units within the office of Douglas Feith, deputy undersecretary of Defense for policy, interpreted and disseminated intelligence on Iraqi weapons to key decision-makers.

"Was the Feith operation supposed to look at intelligence through a different prism from the rest of the intelligence community?" asked ranking member Carl Levin, D-Mich. "Why was it formed, other than for that? And why did it bypass the usual channels with the product of his analysis?"

Levin said the Pentagon has not fully responded to his request last November for information about the Office of Special Plans and the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group, both of which are under Feith's direction. Levin said the Pentagon provided some information Wednesday, but much of what was requested "is still being denied by the department, and that is simply indefensible."

Rumsfeld said he had not seen any evidence that the Pentagon manipulated Iraq intelligence. He said the Pentagon evaluated information from the U.S. intelligence community to help policymakers reach decisions.

A defense official said Thursday that the Office of Special Plans and the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group had different roles.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., chairman the Senate Intelligence Committee, said a 300-page draft report on Iraqi intelligence compiled by his committee would be circulated.

"I must say that, after repeated interviews by our staff, to date we still have yet to find any coercion or intimidation on the part of any analyst to change their analytical product," Roberts said. "It is the most comprehensive inquiry in intelligence in at least a decade."

Roberts added that the committee plans to meet with Feith and CIA Director George Tenet soon, and will issue a public report in March.

During a speech Thursday at Georgetown University, Tenet distanced his agency from the Office of Special Plans, contending the CIA never concluded that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

"You know, there's gambling in this casino," Tenet said when asked about intelligence provided to policymakers. "Everybody has different views of what the intelligence means or doesn't mean. I can tell you with certainty that the president of the United States gets his intelligence from one person and one community: me ... The rest of it, I don't know."

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Milton Frihetsson, 03:40


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