4/03/2005

Doubts on WMD were dismissed

From the WaPo:
As former secretary of state Colin L. Powell worked into the night in a New York hotel room, on the eve of his February 2003 presentation to the U.N. Security Council, CIA officers sent urgent e-mails and cables describing grave doubts about a key charge he was going to make. On the telephone that night, a senior intelligence officer warned then-CIA Director George J. Tenet that he lacked confidence in the principal source of the assertion that Saddam Hussein's scientists were developing deadly agents in mobile laboratories...Tenet told the commission he did not recall that part of the conversation. He relayed no such concerns to Powell, who made the germ-warfare charge a centerpiece of his presentation the next day. That was one among many examples - cited over 692 pages in the report - of fruitless dissent on the accuracy of claims against Iraq. Up until the days before US troops entered Iraqi territory that March, the intelligence community was inundated with evidence that undermined virtually all charges it had made against Iraq, the report said. In scores of additional cases involving the country's alleged nuclear and chemical programs and its delivery systems, the commission described a kind of echo chamber in which plausible hypotheses hardened into firm assertions of fact, eventually becoming immune to evidence...Even after Powell's now-famous presentation in the chamber of the U.N. Security Council, the CIA tried to find out more information about Curveball (a defector/informant), whose stories had been relayed to the Pentagon through German intelligence. Five days after Powell's presentation, the CIA sent an e-mail to a senior defense intelligence official seeking more information about the defector. What followed, in the commission's account, highlights the terrible working relationships within the intelligence community, the lack of interest in getting the truth about Curveball and the ease with which the DIA discarded concerns about the case against Iraq.

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