Ignorant Iraqi Intelligence

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It isn't clear whether any of this matters any more politically, but the Pentagon-funded Iraqi National Congress wasn't just misleading the Bush administration, they were misleading the U.S. press as well. Details in this Knight-Ridder report. An excerpt:

A June 26, 2002, letter from the Iraqi National Congress to the Senate Appropriations Committee listed 108 articles based on information provided by the Iraqi National Congress's Information Collection Program, a U.S.-funded effort to collect intelligence in Iraq.

The Information Collection Program was financed out of the at least $18 million that the U.S. Congress approved for the Iraqi National Congress, led by Ahmed Chalabi, now a member of the Iraqi Governing Council, from 1999 to 2003. The group remains on the Pentagon's payroll.

The assertions in the articles reinforced President Bush's claims that Saddam Hussein should be ousted because he was in league with Osama bin Laden, was developing nuclear weapons and was hiding biological and chemical weapons.

Feeding the information to the news media, as well as to selected administration officials and members of Congress, helped foster an impression that there were multiple sources of intelligence on Iraq's illicit weapons programs and links to bin Laden.

In fact, many of the allegations came from the same half-dozen defectors, were not confirmed by other intelligence and were hotly disputed by intelligence professionals at the CIA, the Defense Department and the State Department.

Nevertheless, U.S. officials and others who supported a pre-emptive invasion quoted the allegations in statements and interviews without running afoul of restrictions on classified information or doubts about the defectors' reliability.

NEXT: The Blue Knight

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  1. “According to the letter, publications in which the articles appeared included the New York Times, the Washington Post, Vanity Fair, the Atlantic Monthly, the Times of London, the Sunday Times of London, the Sunday Age of Melbourne, Australia, and two Knight Ridder newspapers, the Kansas City Star and the Philadelphia Daily News. The Associated Press and others news services also wrote stories.”

    Goes to show that just becuase something is published in every one of these distinguished institutions, it doesn’t mean it’s true. But then again, just becuase something can’t be independently verified, doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

    If something can’t be independently verified, isn’t it the editor’s job to decide whether or not reporting it will sully the name of the paper? Can’t articles be written to show the biases of “expert(s)”? So who’s getting fired?

    But then, before the war, who could have independently verified the existence of chemical and biological labs in Iraq? Hans Blix and the UN couldn’t, and it looks like the ultimate authority in the US, our own intelligence services, couldn’t either; they were just plain wrong.

    My guess is that it was a foregone conclusion in the minds of most news editors that Saddam had the banned weapons. If someone had suggested to me that Saddam Hussein was subjecting his PERSONAL bottom line to sanctions that were predicated on him doing something he had already done, I would have laughed.

    So why did Saddam do it?

    I once worked for a hospital that converted into a full lock-down mental institution, and I had something to do with case review. I used to ask one particularly talkative psychiatrist about interesting cases, “Why does so and so think he’s Nero?”, I asked one day. The good doctor replied that if I found rational reasons for why people do crazy things, I’d be locked up myself within a week.

    Maybe the editors of these papers, like me, tend to assume that most sadistic, meglomaniac dictators are rational just because they’re in power. (See Shultz’s First Law) Maybe the editorial boards on the papers mentioned in this article were playing it straight regarding WMD, at least as far as they knew. You’d never know they thought he had them looking at their editorial pages today.

    But the question of whether or not Iraq had WMD always looked like a red herring to me, and so did whether or not we had an international coaliton. I was against the war becuase I thought it might kill thousands of Iraqi civilians and leave Iraq destabilized, and I thought that those people’s lives, liberty and pursuit of happiness was worth more than whatever we would gain by deposing Saddam.

    I don’t remember any reporters asking the Iraqi Congress people about that.

  2. So Ken are you saying that the Iraqi’s lives, liberty and pursuit of happiness were better under Saddam than they are now?

    Are you saying that the 100 to 300 lives lost a month to Al Queda are worse than the 1,000 a month Saddam was doing?

    Are you planning a campaign to get Saddam re-installed?

    Why not?

    It still amazes me that the anti-war people have no conception of better/worse. It is all utopia or disaster for them.

  3. M. Simon,

    Please note that I want to be wrong on this issue. I was writing about where I was when the war started.

    When the war started, I was afraid that during a bombing campaign, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis would lose their lives, and then, during an invasion, I thought that there would be street fighting in Baghdad like we saw in Berlin.

    Those things didn’t happen; thank God.

    But I was also concerned that after destabilizing the country, that it would fall under the influence of Iranaians and Kurdish extremist groups that would be worse than Saddam, and I didn’t hear a convincing contingency plan to deal with that. I was afraid there might be a civil war with millions of Iraqis effected.

    We haven’t yet seen how the latter fears will all play out. But, when I pray, I pray that I was miserably wrong.

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