Sen. Carl Levin
Fri Sep 8, 2006 19:41



Senate Floor Statement on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Phase II Report - Sep 8, 2006 more >

Senate Panel Cites Pre-War Intelligence Failures
Los Angeles Times, CA - 50 minutes ago
... The committee found no credible evidence for the intelligence community's conclusion that ... are larger and more advanced than before the Gulf War."

Senate Panel Releases Iraq Intel Report
By JIM ABRAMS, Associated Press Writer
Friday, September 8, 2006

There's no evidence Saddam Hussein had a relationship with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his Al-Qaida associates, according to a Senate report on prewar intelligence on Iraq. Democrats said the report undercuts President Bush's justification for going to war.

The declassified document being released Friday by the Senate Intelligence Committee also explores the role that inaccurate information supplied by the anti-Saddam exile group the Iraqi National Congress had in the march to war.

It discloses for the first time an October 2005 CIA assessment that prior to the war Saddam's government "did not have a relationship, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi and his associates."

Bush and other administration officials have said that the presence of Zarqawi in Iraq before the war was evidence of a connection between Saddam's government and al-Qaida. Zarqawi was killed by a U.S. airstrike in June this year.

The long-awaited report, said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., a member of the committee, is "a devastating indictment of the Bush-Cheney administration's unrelenting, misleading and deceptive attempts" to link Saddam to al-Qaida.


Senate Floor Statement on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Phase II Report

Today the Senate Intelligence Committee is releasing two of the five parts of Phase II of the Committee’s inquiry into prewar intelligence. One of the two reports released today looks at what we have learned after the attack on Iraq about the accuracy of prewar intelligence regarding links between Saddam Hussein and al Qa’ida. The report is a devastating indictment of the Bush-Cheney administration’s unrelenting, misleading and deceptive attempts to convince the American people that Saddam Hussein was linked with al Qa’ida, the perpetrators of the 9-11 attack.

The President said just this week that “one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror.” That shouldn’t surprise anybody. The President’s decision to ignore Intelligence Community assessments prior to the Iraq war and to make repeated public statements that gave the misleading impression that Saddam Hussein’s regime was connected to the terrorists who attacked us on 9-11 cost him any credibility he may have had on this issue.

President Bush said that Saddam and al Qa’ida were “allies” and that “[Y]ou can’t distinguish between al-Qa’ida and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror.” The bipartisan report released today directly contradicts that linkage which the President has consistently made in his effort to build public support for his Iraq policy.

The bipartisan Committee report finds that the prewar intelligence assessments were right when they said that Saddam and al Qa’ida were independent actors who were far from being natural partners. The report finds that prewar intelligence assessments were right when they expressed consistent doubts that a meeting occurred between 9-11 hijacker Mohammed Atta and a senior Iraqi intelligence official in Prague prior to September 11th; and the report finds that prewar intelligence assessments were right when they said that there was no credible reporting on al Qa’ida operatives being trained in Iraq. Those were the two principal arguments made by the Administration to support a linkage.

Those accurate prewar assessments didn’t stop the Administration from making many false and misleading statements trying to link Saddam Hussein and al Qa’ida.

In his February 5th presentation to the United Nations, Secretary Powell said that “Iraq today harbors a deadly terrorist network headed by Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, an associate in (sic) collaborator of Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaida lieutenants.”

After the war, in June 2004, the President said that al Zarqawi, the terrorist leader recently killed in Iraq, was “the best evidence” of a connection between Iraq and al Qa’ida.

And, to this day, these statements haven’t stopped. Just two weeks ago, the President said in a press conference that Saddam Hussein “had relations with Zarqawi.” The Intelligence Committee’s report demonstrates that statement to be false. The Committee report discloses, for the first time, the CIA’s October 2005 assessment that Saddam’s regime “did not have a relationship, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi and his associates.” The President’s statement, made just two weeks ago, is flat out false.

The drumbeat of misleading administration statements alleging Saddam’s links to al Qa’ida was unrelenting in the lead up to the Iraq war, which began in March 2003.

On September 25, 2002, the President said “Al-Qa'ida hides. Saddam doesn't, but the danger is, is that they work in concert. The danger is, is that al-Qa'ida becomes an extension of Saddam's madness and his hatred and his capacity to extend weapons of mass destruction around the world...[Y]ou can't distinguish between al-Qa'ida and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror.”

The next day, Secretary Rumsfeld said, "We have what we consider to be credible evidence that al-Qa'ida leaders have sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire weapon of – weapons of mass destruction capabilities."

On October 14, 2002, the President said “This is a man [Saddam] that we know has had connection with al-Qa'ida. This is a man who, in my judgment, would like to use al-Qa'ida as a forward army."

On January 30, 2003, Vice President Cheney said, "His [Saddam] regime aids and protects terrorists, including members of al-Qaida. He could decide secretly to provide weapons of mass destruction to terrorists for use against us. And as the President said on Tuesday night, it would take just one vial, one canister, one crate to bring a day of horror to our nation unlike any we have ever known."

On February 6, 2003, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz said, "And, worst of all, his connections with terrorists, which go back decades, and which started some 10 years ago with al-Qa'ida, are growing every day."

What the President and other Administration officials did not say was what the Intelligence Community was saying about this crucial issue because it would have undermined their march to war and refuted their main argument for attacking Iraq – that Iraq was linked to the terrorists who attacked us on 9-11.

In June 2002, the CIA said that "our assessment of al-Qa'ida's ties to Iraq rests on a body of fragmented, conflicting reporting from sources of varying reliability." That same report said that “the ties between Saddam and bin Ladin appear much like those between rival intelligence services.” And the Defense Intelligence Agency stated in a July 2002 assessment that "compelling evidence demonstrating direct cooperation between the government of Iraq and al-Qa'ida has not been established.”

These two then-classified assessments preceded the President’s statements that “you can’t distinguish between Iraq and al Qa’ida” and that in his view Saddam would like to use al Qa’ida as “a forward army.”

CIA assessed in January 2003 that “Saddam Husayn and Usama bin Ladin are far from being natural partners” and that Saddam has “viewed Islamic extremists operating inside Iraq as a threat.” The CIA also assessed in January 2003 that Saddam viewed al Qa’ida with “deep suspicion” and stated that “the relationship between Saddam and bin Ladin appears to more closely resemble that of two independent actors trying to exploit each other.” This January 2003 classified report was issued just one day before the Vice President stated to the American public that Saddam’s regime “aids and protects terrorists, including members of al-Qaida. He could decide secretly to provide weapons of mass destruction to terrorists for use against us.”

The misleading statements by administration officials did not stop there. The Intelligence Committee’s report recounts the story of the alleged meeting between Mohammed Atta and the Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague. In the fall of 2001, the Czech intelligence service provided the CIA with reporting based on a single source who stated that Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in April 2001.

On December 9, 2001, Vice President Cheney was asked about the report on Meet the Press. The Vice President said that, “'s been pretty well confirmed that he [9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta] did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack.”

On March 24, 2002, the Vice President told Meet the Press that “We discovered, and it's since been public, the allegation that one of the lead hijackers, Mohammed Atta, had, in fact, met with Iraqi intelligence in Prague...”

But the Intelligence Committee’s report cites a June 2002 CIA paper that said, "Reporting is contradictory on hijacker Mohammed Atta's alleged trip to Prague and meeting with an Iraqi intelligence officer, and we have not verified his travels."

The Intelligence Committee’s report declassifies, for the first time, a July 2002 Defense Intelligence Agency paper that said “Muhammad Atta reportedly was identified by an asset (not an officer) of the Czech service only after Atta's picture was widely circulated in the media after the attacks, approximately five months after the alleged meeting occurred” and that “there is no photographic, immigration or other documentary evidence indicating Atta was in the Czech Republic during the time frame of the meeting.”

Two months later, in September 2002, CIA published its assessment that “evidence casts doubt” on the possibility that the meeting had occurred and that "The CIA and FBI have reviewed the reporting available so far and are unable to confirm that Atta met al-Ani in Prague."

None of those assessments stopped the Vice President from continuing to suggest that the report of the meeting was evidence that Saddam’s regime was linked to the 9-11 attackers. On September 8, 2002, in a Meet the Press interview the Vice President said that the CIA considered the report of the meeting “credible,” although, again, that same month the CIA said that there was evidence that “cast doubt” on it having occurred.

In January 2003, the CIA published an assessment stating that, “A CIA and FBI review of intelligence and open-source reporting leads us to question the information provided by the Czech service source who claimed that Atta met al-Ani.” The January 2003 paper stated that CIA was "increasingly skeptical that Atta traveled to Prague in 2001 or met with IIS officer al-Ani” and that "the most reliable reporting to date casts doubt on this possibility."

But the Vice President was undeterred by the CIA’s skepticism. On September 14, 2003, eight months after the CIA said that the most reliable reporting cast doubt on the possibility of a meeting between Atta and the Iraqi intelligence officer, Vice President Cheney was still citing it as having possibly occurred.

On January 19, 2004, a full year after the CIA expressed serious doubts about the meeting and the fact that not a shred of evidence had been found to support the claim of a meeting, the Vice President told the Rocky Mountain News that the Atta meeting was “the one that possibly tied the two together to 9/11.”

Six months later, on June 17, 2004, the Vice President was asked whether Iraq was involved in 9/11. The Vice President said “We don’t know... We had one report, this was the famous report on the Czech intelligence service, and we’ve never been able to confirm it or to knock it down. We just don’t know.” The Vice President may not have “known” but the intelligence community sure as heck didn’t believe – for a long time before the Vice President’s statement – that the meeting took place.

The intelligence assessments contained in the Intelligence Committee’s unclassified report are an indictment of the Administration’s unrelenting and misleading attempts to link Saddam Hussein to 9-11. But portions of the report which Intelligence Community leaders have determined to keep from public view provide some of the most damaging evidence of this Administration’s falsehoods and distortions.

Among what remains classified, and therefore covered up, includes deeply disturbing information. Much of the information redacted from the public report does not jeopardize any intelligence sources or methods but serves effectively to cover up certain highly offensive activities. Even the partially released picture is plenty bleak about the Administration’s use of falsehoods and distortions to build public support for the war. But the public is entitled to the full picture. Unless this report is further declassified, they won’t. While the battle is waged to declassify those covered up portions of the report – unless those portions truly disclose intelligence sources and methods – every Senator should read the classified version of this report.

In addition to trying to create the impression that Iraq was connected to the 9-11 attackers, the administration also claimed that Iraq had provide al Qa’ida with training in poisons and gasses.

For instance, in a speech in October 2002, the President said "We've learned that Iraq has trained al-Qa'ida members in bomb making and poisons and deadly gases."

In February 2003, the President said "Iraq has also provided al-Qa'ida with chemical and biological weapons training."

And in March 2003, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice said there was “a very strong link to training al-Qa'ida in chemical and biological weapons techniques, we know from a detainee that – the head of training for al-Qaida, that they sought help in developing chemical and biological weapons because they weren't doing very well on their own. They sought it in Iraq. They received the help."

Those statements were based on statements from Ibn al Shaykh al-Libi, a detained senior al-Qa’ida operative. The Administration hid the fact that the Defense Intelligence Agency didn’t believe al-Libi’s statements. In February 2002, a year before the President claimed that Iraq “provided al-Qa'ida with chemical and biological weapons training,” DIA assessed that al-Libi “is more likely... intentionally misleading the debriefers.”

Nor did the administration disclose a second DIA assessment of February 2002, that said “Iraq is unlikely to have provided bin Ladin any useful CB knowledge or assistance” or DIA’s April 2002 assessment that there was no credible reporting on al-Qa'ida training “anywhere” in Iraq.

The Administration statements also flew in the face of the CIA’s January 2003 assessment that al-Libi was not in position to know whether training had taken place.

So here’s what we’ve got.

The President says Saddam had a relationship with Zarqawi. The Senate Intelligence Committee found that the CIA concluded in 2005 that “the regime did not have a relationship with, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi.”

The President said Saddam and al Qa’ida were “allies

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