Monday, July 07, 2003

Thanks to the Daily Howler for this link to a Washington Post article concerning the findings of a CIA internal review panel on wmd's in Iraq. The 4-person panel was headed by Richard J. Kerr, a former CIA deputy director.

From the report, we glean that the CIA was relying on intelligence gathered before 1998, the year the weapons inspectors were kicked out of Iraq. Apparently, the CIA assumed Iraq was continuing the development of wmds, based on purchases made by the country (what purchases and when???).

Kerr must be from a different planet where different rules of logic are used, because he concludes that "the analysts were pretty much on the mark." Is he talking about the same country that we've all been talking about, where no trace of wmds have been found, no smoking guns, no barrels of chemical and vials of biological weapons?

U.S. intelligence analysts lacked new, hard information about Saddam Hussein's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons after United Nations inspectors left Iraq in 1998, and so had to rely on data from the early and mid-1990s when they concluded in months leading up to the war that those programs continued into 2003, according to preliminary findings of a CIA internal review panel.

Although the post-1998 evidence was largely circumstantial or "inferential" because of the inspectors' absence and the lack of reliable agents inside Iraq, the panel said yesterday, the judgment that Hussein continued to have weapons of mass destruction appears justified.

"It would have been very hard to conclude those programs were not continuing, based on the reports being gathered in recent years about Iraqi purchases and other activities before the war," said Richard J. Kerr, a former CIA deputy director who heads the four-person review panel appointed in February by CIA Director George J. Tenet. The panel's mission, initially suggested by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, is to provide "lessons learned" from the Iraq war by comparing the prewar analyses and estimates to the intelligence gathered inside the country after the war.

Kerr said the prewar intelligence reports given to Bush administration policymakers from the CIA, the Pentagon and State Department contained caveats and disagreements on data underlying some judgments, such as whether Hussein's nuclear program was being reconstituted. But "on the whole, the analysts were pretty much on the mark," he said.

Kerr offered no evidence that analysts were pressured to conform to the administrations wishes in creating justification for this war.

In my view, this report is a crock. Having an ex-deputy director investigate the body he use to head is as good as having the CIA investigate itself. There are preconceived notions and beliefs that Kerr took with him in this "investigation". This report proves nothing, except something we already knew: Tenet does not really want the truth revealed, because his goose would be cooked.