Hit & Run

More CIA Blunders on WMD


Reported in the New York Times (as reprinted in the registrationless Houston Chronicle):

The CIA was told by relatives of Iraqi scientists before the war that Baghdad's programs to develop unconventional weapons had been abandoned, but the CIA failed to give that information to President Bush, even as he publicly warned of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's illicit weapons, according to government officials.

The existence of a secret prewar CIA operation to debrief relatives of Iraqi scientists -- and the agency's failure to give their statements to the president -- has been uncovered by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

The panel has been investigating the government's handling of prewar intelligence on Iraq's unconventional weapons and plans to release a report this week on the first phase of its inquiry.

The report is expected to contain a scathing indictment of the CIA and its leaders for failing to recognize that the evidence they had collected did not justify their assessment that Saddam had illicit weapons.
The Senate found, for example, that an Iraqi defector who supposedly provided evidence of the existence of a biological weapons program had actually said that he did not know of any such program.

In another case concerning whether a shipment of aluminum tubes seized on its way to Iraq was evidence that Baghdad was trying to build a nuclear bomb, the Senate panel raised questions about whether the CIA had become an advocate, rather than an objective observer, and selectively sought to prove that the tubes were for a nuclear weapons program.

The Times story does not say the Senate Committee will claim explicit administration pressure led to this shading of the intelligence. Why is it George Tenet kept his job as long as he did?