The Senate Report on Iraqi WMD Intelligence (formally, the "Report of the Select Committee on Intelligence on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq") was the report by the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence concerning the U.S. intelligence community's assessments of Iraq during the time leading up to the 2003 U.S. invasion. The report, which was released on July 9, 2004, identified numerous failures in the intelligence-gathering and -analysis process. The report found that these failures led to the creation of inaccurate materials that misled both government policy makers and the American public.
The Committee's Republican majority and Democratic minority agreed on the report's major conclusions and unanimously endorsed its findings. They disagreed, though, on the impact that statements on Iraq by senior members of the Bush administration had on the intelligence process. The second phase of the investigation, addressing the way senior policymakers used the intelligence, was published on May 25, 2007. Portions of the phase II report not released at that time include the review of public statements by U.S. government leaders prior to the war, and the assessment of the activities of Douglas Feith and the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans.
After George W. Bush became president in January 2001, and especially after the September 11, 2001 attacks, the U.S. government increased its attention on Iraq. In the first half of 2002, a series of public statements by President Bush and senior members of his administration indicated a willingness to use force, if necessary, to remove Saddam Hussein from power. On October 1, 2002, the CIA delivered a classified National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) assessing the threat represented by Iraq's WMD activities. Three days later, CIA Director George Tenet published an unclassified white paper on the subject of Iraq's WMD capabilities. Over the next two weeks, a joint resolution authorizing the use of force was passed by both houses of Congress.
Over the next several months the U.S. conducted a diplomatic effort at the United Nations, seeking to obtain that body's approval for a new WMD inspection regime, and, potentially, for the use of force to overthrow the Iraqi government. The UN Security Council passed resolution 1441 on November 8, 2002, calling on Iraq to make "an accurate full, final, and complete disclosure" of its WMD programs, and threatening "serious consequences" if it did not comply. In the wake of resolution 1441, Iraq allowed UN weapons inspectors to return to the country. While the inspections were taking place, the U.S. continued to lobby the members of the UN Security Council to pass a resolution explicitly authorizing the use of force against Iraq. As part of that effort U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell gave a presentation to the UN on February 5, 2003, in which he detailed U.S. intelligence findings regarding Iraqi WMD. Faced with the opposition of a majority of the Security Council's members, including Germany, France, and Russia, the U.S. abandoned the effort to obtain an explicit use-of-force authorization from the UN.
On March 20, 2003, the U.S. and its allies invaded Iraq, an action that led to the overthrow of the government of Saddam Hussein.
Over the ensuing year, U.S. and allied forces searched for evidence supporting the pre-invasion claims about Iraqi WMD stockpiles and programs. The lead role in this search was played by the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), consisting of investigators from the U.S. Department of Defense and the CIA. Although scattered remnants of Iraq's WMD stockpiles from the time of the 1991 Gulf War were found, the ISG's final report concluded that Iraq did not possess significant WMD capabilities at the time of the invasion Iraq. The ISG also stated that Iraq had intended to restart all banned weapons programs as soon as multilateral sanctions against it had been dropped.
As these facts were emerging in June, 2003, U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, announced that the Committee, as part of its regular oversight responsibility, would conduct a "thorough and bipartisan review" of Iraqi WMD and ties to terrorist groups. On June 20, 2003, Senator Roberts and Senator John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV), the Committee's vice-chairman, issued a joint press release announcing that the committee would conduct a detailed review of the Iraqi WMD intelligence process, including the following areas:
The following nine Republicans were members of the Committee at the time the investigation was launched: Committee Chairman C. Patrick Roberts (R-KS), Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT), R. Michael DeWine (R-OH), Christopher S. "Kit" Bond (R-MO), C. Trent Lott (R-MS), Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME), Charles Hagel (R-NE), C. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), and John W. Warner (R-VA).
The following eight Democrats made up the rest of the Committee: Vice-Chairman John D. "Jay" Rockefeller IV (D-WV), Carl Levin (D-MI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ronald L. Wyden (D-OR), Richard J. Durbin (D-IL), B. Evans "Evan" Bayh III (D-IN), Johnny R. "John" Edwards (D-NC), and Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD).
Committee staff also interviewed more than 200 people, including intelligence analysts and senior officials with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Defense Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, and other federal entities involved in intelligence gathering and analysis. The Committee also held a series of hearings on the intelligence concerning Iraqi WMD and ties to terrorism.
On February 12, 2004, Senators Roberts and Rockefeller announced an expansion of the scope of the investigation. The new elements added to the investigation were:
On June 17, 2004, Senators Roberts and Rockefeller announced that the completed report had been unanimously approved by the Committee's members, and that they were working with the CIA on the issue of declassification. The completed report, with blacked-out text ("redactions") made by the CIA, was released on July 9, 2004. The report did not cover most of the new topics announced in the February 12, 2004, press release; instead, those topics were now to be covered in a separate report, to be completed later, covering "phase two" of the investigation.
The 511-page report focuses much of its attention on the October, 2002, classified National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) titled Iraq's Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction. The report includes 117 formal conclusions, as well as supporting discussion and background information.
Subsequent conclusions fault the intelligence community for failing to adequately explain to policymakers the uncertainties that underlay the NIE's conclusions, and for succumbing to "group think," in which the intelligence community adopted untested (and, in hindsight, unwarranted) assumptions about the extent of Iraq's WMD stockpiles and programs. The committee identified a failure to adequately supervise analysts and collectors, and a failure to develop human sources of intelligence (HUMINT) inside Iraq after the departure of international weapons inspectors in 1998. It also cited the post-9/11 environment as having led to an increase in the intensity with which policymakers review and question threat information.
Section III of the report discusses assessments of Iraq's domestic nuclear program. It focuses a significant amount of attention on the intelligence process that took place in the spring of 2001 regarding Iraq's attempts to purchase 60,000 high-strength aluminum tubes. The CIA concluded that the tubes could be intended for constructing centrifuges for a uranium-enrichment program (i.e., for a restarted Iraqi nuclear weapons program); analysts in the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense considered that to be unlikely.
The October 2002 NIE stated that Iraq appeared to be reconstitituting its nuclear weapons program. The Committee's report concluded that this view was not supported by the underlying intelligence, and the report agreed with the opinion of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, expressed as an "alternative view" in the NIE, that the available intelligence did not make "a compelling case for reconstitution" of the Iraqi nuclear program. The committee reached several conclusions critical of poor communications between the CIA and other parts of the intelligence community concerning this issue.
Committee Chairman Pat Roberts told NBC's Tim Russert that "Curveball really provided 98 percent of the assessment as to whether or not the Iraqis had a biological weapon." This was in despite the fact that "nobody inside the U.S. government had ever actually spoken to the informant—except [for a single] Pentagon analyst, who concluded the man was an alcoholic and utterly useless as a source."
After learning the intelligence provided by Curveball was going to be used as the "backbone" of the case for war, the Pentagon analyst wrote a letter to the CIA expressing his concerns. The Deputy of the CIA Counter Proliferation Unit quickly responded by saying:
"Let's keep in mind the fact that this war's going to happen regardless of what Curve Ball said or didn't say. The Powers That Be probably aren't terribly interested in whether Curve Ball knows what he's talking about."
One area where the Committee found that the intelligence community's reporting accurately reflected the underlying intelligence concerned Iraq's retention of Scud-type ballistic missiles, and its development of new types of short- and medium-range missiles. In the case of the NIE's reporting on Iraq's development of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), however, the Committee found that the reporting generally was not well-supported by the underlying intelligence, and overstated what was known concerning the likelihood that the Iraqi UAVs were intended for use as a delivery means for biological weapons.
Section VII of the Committee's report focuses on the intelligence behind Secretary of State Colin Powell's speech to the UN on February 5, 2003. The report describes the process whereby the CIA provided a draft of the speech to the National Security Council (NSC), and then, at the request of the NSC, worked to expand the speech with additional material, especially regarding Iraq's nuclear program. The report also describes the subsequent review made by Colin Powell and analysts from the State Department with analysts from the CIA. In the speech, Powell said that "every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we’re giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence." Despite this, the Committee concluded that "[m]uch of the information provided or cleared by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for inclusion in Secretary Powell’s speech was overstated, misleading, or incorrect."
A white paper titled "Iraq's Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction" was released by CIA Director George Tenet on October 4, 2002, three days after the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraqi WMD was released. In part, the white paper was a response to Congressional requests for an unclassified version of the information in the NIE, since that document was available only to a small group of lawmakers due to its classified nature. The white paper, although shorter and less-detailed than the NIE, was very similar to it in format and major conclusions. The Committee found that the white paper presented a significantly stronger characterization of the threat represented by Iraqi WMD than did the NIE, and that that stronger characterization was not supported by the underlying intelligence.
Several sections in the report examine topics relating to allegations of links between Iraq and terrorism. The Committee said that the intelligence community produced reasonable conclusions on this topic, although the Committee found gaps in the intelligence-gathering methods used (Page 350)
Much of the Committee's investigation in this area concerned the CIA's preparation and distribution of a document titled Iraqi Support for Terrorism. An initial version of this document was distributed to senior Bush administration officials in September, 2002; an updated version of the document was provided to Congress in January, 2003. The conclusion of CIA analysts was that although Saddam Hussein's government had likely had several contacts with al Qaeda during the 1990s, "those contacts did not add up to an established formal relationship." The CIA also attempted to determine the attitudes that Iraqi and al-Qaeda leadership held toward the possibility of working cooperatively with each other. The available intelligence in this area suggested that Iraqi and al-Qaeda leaders would be wary of working together.
The "most problematic area of contact between Iraq and al-Qaida were the reports of training in the use of non-conventional weapons, specifically chemical and biological weapons." Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had been present in Baghdad, and an al-Qaeda affiliate organization that identified itself as the "sworn enemy" of Saddam Hussein had operated in northeastern Iraq in an area under Kurdish control. There was no evidence proving Iraqi complicity or assistance in an al Qaeda attack. The report criticized the CIA for its lack of human intelligence resources in Iraq to assess the country's ties with terrorism during the time prior to 2002.
In terms of pressure on analysts, the Committee said that after 9/11, "analysts were under tremendous pressure to make correct assessments, to avoid missing a credible threat, and to avoid an intelligence failure on the scale of 9/11." The Committee concluded that this resulted in assessments that were "bold and assertive in pointing out potential terrorist links," and that this pressure was more the result of analysts' own desire to be as thorough as possible, than of any undue influence by the administration, for which the Committee said they found no evidence. Several Democratic members of the Committee said in the report's "additional views" that the question had not been adequately explored.
This additional view also discusses the question of pressure on analysts, and recommends caution in implementing reforms in the intelligence community.
Senator John Warner (R-VA) used his additional view to defend the integrity and professionalism of front-line intelligence analysts, and to emphasize that "there was no evidence that anyone involved in reaching intelligence judgments for this NIE was subjected to any pressure from their superiors or from policymakers to alter any of their judgments or analyses."
The additional view by Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA), was critical of the Bush administration, saying it "did not fairly represent the intelligence."
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) was also critical of the Bush administration in his additional view, giving a list of public statements by senior members of the administration that misstated and exaggerated the underlying intelligence on Iraq.
Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) focused on the need for greater accountability for the intelligence failures identified in the report.
Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) used her additional view to argue for a number of specific structural and procedural reforms in the intelligence community.
On March 10, 2005, during a question-and-answer session after a speech he had given at the Woodrow Wilson Center, Senator Roberts said of the failure to complete phase two, "[T]hat is basically on the back burner." Senator John D. Rockefeller (D-WV), vice chairman of the Committee, made a statement later that day in which he said, "The Chairman agreed to this investigation and I fully expect him to fulfill his commitment.... While the completion of phase two is long overdue, the committee has continued this important work, and I expect that we will finish the review in the very near future."
In a statement regarding the release of the report of the presidential WMD commission on March 31, 2005, Senator Roberts wrote, "I don’t think there should be any doubt that we have now heard it all regarding prewar intelligence. I think that it would be a monumental waste of time to replow this ground any further."
On April 10, 2005, Senators Roberts and Rockefeller appeared together on NBC's Meet the Press program. In response to a question about the completion of phase two of the investigation, Roberts said, "I'm perfectly willing to do it, and that's what we agreed to do, and that door is still open. And I don't want to quarrel with Jay, because we both agreed that we would get it done. But we do have--we have Ambassador Negroponte next week, we have General Mike Hayden next week. We have other hot-spot hearings or other things going on that are very important."
Moderator Tim Russert then asked Senator Rockefeller if he believed phase two would be completed, and he replied, "I hope so. Pat and I have agreed to do it. We've shaken hands on it, and we agreed to do it after the elections so it wouldn't be any sort of sense of a political attack. I mean that was my view; it shouldn't be viewed that way."
On August 2, 2005, Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) released the text of a letter she had sent to Senator Roberts, saying, in part, “I am increasingly dismayed by the delay in completing the Committee’s ‘Phase II’ investigation into intelligence prior to the Iraq War.... I stand ready to participate in this investigation in any way possible."
On November 1, 2005, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), the Senate minority leader, invoked a seldom-used provision of the Senate rules to place the body in a closed session. During a three-and-a-half hour discussion, agreement was reached on the creation of a six-member Senate panel to report by November 14 on "the intelligence committee's progress of the phase two review of the prewar intelligence and its schedule for completion."
On April 26, 2006, an article by journalist Alexander Bolton in the Congressional journal The Hill reported that Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) was seeking to further divide the phase two report. Under Roberts' new approach, the following components of the report would be released relatively quickly: pre-war intelligence assessments of post-war Iraq, postwar findings in Iraq regarding WMD and ties to terrorism, and the use by US intelligence of information supplied by the Iraqi National Congress. Two components of the report would be delayed: whether public statements before the war by senior government officials were supported by the underlying intelligence, and the role played by the Department of Defense's Office of Special Plans in developing the prewar intelligence.
A September 7, 2006, article by journalist Jonathon Weisman in the Washington Post reported that the part of the phase two report comparing the Bush administration's public statements about Saddam Hussein with the evidence senior officials reviewed in private would not be released before the November 2006 election.
Two volumes of the phase II report were released on September 8, 2006: " Postwar Findings about Iraq's WMD Programs and Links to Terrorism and How they Compare with Prewar Assessments" and " The Use by the Intelligence Community of Information Provided by the Iraqi National Congress" The conclusions of these reports were that there was no prewar evidence that Saddam was building weapons of mass destruction and there was no evidence that Saddam had links to al-Qaeda.
After Democrats gained a majority in the Senate during the 2006 midterm election, chairmanship of the committee passed to Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). The former chair, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) left the committee; the ranking Republican and vice chairman of the committee is now Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO).
On May 25, 2007, the committee released a volume of the phase II report titled, " Prewar Intelligence Assessments About Postwar Iraq". This volume of the report includes seven pages of conclusions regarding assessments provided by the intelligence community to U.S. government leaders prior to the Iraq war. The report concludes that the intelligence community had assessed that establishing a stable government in Iraq would be a "long, difficult, and probably turbulent challenge," that Iraqi society was deeply divided and would engage in violent conflict unless an occupying power took steps to prevent it, and that the war would increase the threat of terrorism, at least temporarily. The intelligence community also assessed that a U.S. defeat and occupation of Iraq would lead to a surge in political Islam and increased funding for terrorist groups, and that the war would not cause other countries in the region to abandon their WMD programs.
This volume of the report includes an appendix containing two previously classified reports by the National Intelligence Council (NIC) titled, "Regional Consequences of Regime Change in Iraq" and "Principal Challenges in Post-Saddam Iraq", as well as a long list of recipients within the government of NIC assessments on Iraq. The appendix also contains a number of "Additional Views" in which different members of the committee comment on the history of the committee's work in this area, and criticize what they characterize as the politicization of that work by members of the other party.
Phase II of the report was publicly released on Thursday June 5 2008 whether statements by US Government officials were substantiated by intelligence reports
This was a bi-partisan majority report (10-5) and "details inappropriate, sensitive intelligence activities conducted by the DoD’s Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, without the knowledge of the Intelligence Community or the State Department." It concludes that the US Administration "repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent. As a result, the American people were led to believe that the threat from Iraq was much greater than actually existed.” These included President Bush's statements of a partnership between Iraq and Al Qa'ida, that Saddam Hussein was preparing to give weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups, and Iraq's capability to produce chemical weapons.
The Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Sen.Jay Rockefeller, stated in press release of report's publication“It is my belief that the Bush Administration was fixated on Iraq, and used the 9/11 attacks by al Qa’ida as justification for overthrowing Saddam Hussein. To accomplish this, top Administration officials made repeated statements that falsely linked Iraq and al Qa’ida as a single threat and insinuated that Iraq played a role in 9/11. Sadly, the Bush Administration led the nation into war under false pretenses. While the report highlights many of the problems with the intelligence and criticizes the Bush Administration for it's handling of the lead up to the war and it's reasons for doing so, the report also supports in many cases that claims made by the Bush Administration about Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction programs were "generally substantiated by the intelligence".
“There is no question we all relied on flawed intelligence. But, there is a fundamental difference between relying on incorrect intelligence and deliberately painting a picture to the American people that you know is not fully accurate."
The Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Sen.Jay Rockefeller twice alleged that the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, or it's former head Douglas Feith may have engaged in unlawful activities, Phase II of the report "found nothing to substantiate that claim; nothing unlawful about the "alleged" rogue intelligence operation in the PCTEG , nothing unlawful about the Office of Special Plans, and nothing unlawful about the so-called failure to inform Congress of alleged intelligence activities." The previous year, the chairman released a press statement claiming that it appeared that the office's were "not in compliance with the law. Yet, rather than pursue these allegations, Rockfeller decided to pursue an issue unrelated to the intelligence, and unrelated to Iraq. He pursued and inquiry of an exploratory meeting held in Rome in 2001 between two DOD officials and two Iranians. Writing for the Minority Opinion as part of the report it was stated that "After four years of making unsubstantiated allegations of unlawful activities, the calculus appears to be that proclamations of "inappropriate" behavior will generate the desired headlines focusing only on the caustic words, rather than the lack of substance behind them. We hope that these additional views will help redirect that focus to the evidence, or lack thereof."
Despite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's telling her caucus members "that impeachment is off the table; she is not interested in pursuing it," Dennis Kucinich D-Ohio introduced a formal resolution to the House of Representatives in an attempt to impeach President George W. Bush from the White House. . House Democrats unanimously voted to send it to a committee; and maneuver that essentially kills Kucinich's efforts.