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Thread: Pentagon Says Pre-War Intel Not Illegal

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2005

    Pentagon Says Pre-War Intel Not Illegal

    Pentagon says pre-war intel not illegal

    (Gold9472: The Pentagon is three for three when it comes to investigating itself.)

    Associated Press

    WASHINGTON - Some of the Pentagon's prewar intelligence work, including a contention that the CIA underplayed the likelihood of al-Qaida connections to Saddam Hussein, was inappropriate but not illegal, a Defense Department investigation has concluded.

    In a report to be presented to Congress on Friday, the department's inspector general said former Pentagon policy chief Douglas J. Feith had not engaged in illegal activities through the creation of special offices to review intelligence. Some Democrats also have contended that Feith misled Congress about the basis of the administration's assertions on the threat posed by Iraq, but the Pentagon investigation did not support that.

    Two people familiar with the findings discussed the main points and some details Thursday on condition they not be identified.

    The Senate Armed Services Committee has scheduled a hearing Friday to receive the findings by Thomas F. Gimble, the Pentagon's acting inspector general. The committee's chairman, Carl Levin, D-Mich., has been a leading critic of Feith's role in prewar intelligence activities and has accused him of deceiving Congress.

    Levin has asserted that President Bush took the country to war in Iraq based in part on intelligence assessments - some shaped by Feith's office - that were off base and did not fully reflect the views of the intelligence community.

    In a telephone interview Thursday, Levin said the IG report is "very damning" and shows a Pentagon policy shop trying to shape intelligence to prove a link between al-Qaida and Saddam.

    "That was the argument that was used to make the sale to the American people about the need to go to war," Levin said. "And the idea that this separate intelligence assessment, which was wrong, which was distorted, which was inappropriate for the reasons given here (by the IG) is something which is highly disturbing."

    Levin also said it was a "red herring" to say that he or others in Congress claimed that any of Feith's activities had been illegal. Feith has said the accusation that he misled Congress was, by definition, a claim that he had acted illegally.

    Levin in September 2005 asked the inspector general to determine whether Feith's offices' activities were appropriate. If deemed inappropriate, the inspector general should recommend remedial action, Levin said then. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., who was chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee at the time, separately asked the inspector general to decide on legality as well as appropriateness.

    The 2004 report from the Sept. 11 Commission found no evidence of a collaborative relationship between Saddam and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror organization before the U.S. invasion.

    Asked to comment on the IG's findings, Feith said in a telephone interview that he had not seen the report but was pleased to hear that it concluded his office's activities were neither illegal nor unauthorized. He took strong issue, however, with the IG's finding that some activities had been "inappropriate."

    "The policy office has been smeared for years by allegations that its pre-Iraq-war work was somehow `unlawful' or `unauthorized' and that some information it gave to congressional committees was deceptive or misleading," Feith said.

    Feith called "bizarre" the inspector general's conclusion that some intelligence activities by the Office of Special Plans, which was created while Feith served as the undersecretary of defense for policy - the top policy position under Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld - were inappropriate but not unauthorized.

    "Clearly, the inspector general's office was willing to challenge the policy office and even stretch some points to be able to criticize it," Feith said, adding that he felt this amounted to subjective "quibbling" by the IG.

    Feith left his Pentagon post in August 2005 and now teaches at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. He has maintained throughout the controversy over the role of the Office of Special Plans, as well as other small groups that were created after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, that their intelligence activities were prudent, authorized and useful in challenging some of the intelligence analysis of the CIA.

    At the center of the prewar intelligence controversy was the work of a small number of Pentagon officials from Feith's office and the office of Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz who reviewed CIA intelligence analyses and put together their own report. When they briefed Rumsfeld on their report in August 2002 - a period when Vice President Dick Cheney and other administration officials were ratcheting up their warnings about the gravity of the Iraq threat - Rumsfeld directed them to also brief CIA Director George Tenet.

    Their presentation, which included assertions about links between al-Qaida and the Iraqi government, contained a criticism that the intelligence community was ignoring or underplaying its own raw reports on such potential links.

    The controversy has simmered for several years. The Senate Intelligence Committee included the Office of Special Plans in its investigation into the prewar intelligence on Iraq, but the committee did not finish that portion of its work when it released the first part of its findings in July 2004.

    In a dissenting view attached to the committee's report, three Democratic senators, including Levin, said that Pentagon policymakers sought to undermine the analysis of the intelligence community by circumventing the CIA and briefing their own views directly to the White House. This was a particular problem when the spy agencies' judgments did not conform to the administration's dire views on Iraqi links to al-Qaida, the senators said.

    Later, two senators - Levin and Pat Roberts, R-Kan. - separately asked the Pentagon's inspector general to review the role of Feith's office. It was not immediately clear whether the intelligence committee would press ahead with its own investigation, or if the inspector general's report would suffice.

    In a response last month to a draft of the IG's report, Feith's successor as undersecretary of defense for policy, Eric Edelman, wrote that the activity deemed by the IG to be "inappropriate" was actually "an exercise in alternative thinking" conducted at Wolfowitz's direction.

    Edelman wrote that the IG had misinterpreted "what the (Pentagon's) work actually was - namely, a critical assessment by OSD (Office of the Secretary of Defense) for policy purposes of IC (Intelligence Community) reporting and finished IC products on contacts between Iraq and al-Qaida."
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Pentagon office produced `alternative' intelligence on Iraq

    By Jonathan S. Landay
    McClatchy Newspapers

    WASHINGTON - A special unit run by former Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld's top policy aide inappropriately produced "alternative" intelligence reports that wrongly concluded that Saddam Hussein's regime had cooperated with al-Qaida, a Pentagon investigation has determined.

    The Department of Defense Inspector General's Office found that former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith and his staff had done nothing illegal.

    But Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who requested the investigation, called the findings "devastating" because senior administration officials, particularly Vice President Dick Cheney, used Feith's work to help make their case for the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.

    "We went to war based on the argument of the administration ... that there was a link between al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein and that Saddam Hussein could give al-Qaida and other terrorist groups weapons," Levin said in an interview with McClatchy Newspapers.

    The findings "are about as damning a statement as one can hear, and I think the American people will be absolutely furious," Levin continued. The lawmaker is a longtime critic of the administration's use of exaggerated and erroneous intelligence to justify the invasion and a leading voice for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.

    Feith, who resigned from the Pentagon in 2005 and now teaches at Georgetown University, said that he'd been exonerated.

    "The policy office has been smeared for years by allegations that its pre-Iraq war work was somehow `unlawful' or `unauthorized' and that some information it gave to congressional committees was deceptive or misleading," he said in a statement. "The inspector general's report has now thoroughly repudiated the smears."

    But Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement that he'd examine whether Feith had violated the 1947 National Security Act.

    The act "requires the heads of all departments and agencies of the U.S. government involved in intelligence activities `to keep the congressional oversight committees informed,'" Rockefeller said. "The IG has concluded that (Feith's) office was engaged in intelligence activities. The Senate Intelligence Committee was never informed of these activities. Whether these actions were authorized or not, it appears that they were not in compliance with the law."

    The Pentagon investigation focused on the Policy Counter-Terrorism Evaluation Group, which Feith created shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to look for links between Saddam's regime and Osama bin Laden's terrorist network.

    The unit was one of two offices Feith created that received intelligence on Iraq outside of regular intelligence channels as the Bush administration made its case for ousting Saddam.

    An Iraqi exile group, the Iraqi National Congress, fed the other unit, the Office of Special Plans, exaggerated and bogus claims that Saddam was hiding illegal nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and was training Islamic terrorists, several investigations have found. The INC funneled the same claims to selected members of the press.

    DOD Inspector General Thomas F. Gimble was to present the investigation's classified findings Friday to the Senate Armed Services Committee, which Levin chairs.

    Levin and Rockefeller disclosed the conclusions of an unclassified summary of the probe's findings in advance of the session.

    "The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy developed, produced and then disseminated alternative intelligence assessments on the Iraq and al-Qaida relationship, which included some conclusions that were inconsistent with the consensus of the Intelligence Community, to senior decision-makers," said an excerpt of the summary released by Levin's office.

    "The Inspector General's report makes it clear in plain language that the actions of the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy were inappropriate," Rockefeller said. "Individuals in that office produced and disseminated intelligence products outside of the regular intelligence channels."

    Feith's Policy Counter-Terrorism Evaluation Group examined raw U.S. intelligence reports and post-Sept. 11 CIA assessments. Although there were intermittent contacts for about a decade, there was no operational cooperation between Iraq and bin Laden, the CIA assessments stated.

    The CIA's findings have been substantiated by a number of investigations, including that of the independent 9/11 commission.

    Feith's unit, however, concluded that there had been cooperation between Iraq and al-Qaida.

    The unit cited as its strongest evidence a purported April 2001 meeting in the Czech capital of Prague between a senior Iraqi intelligence officer and Mohammad Atta, who led the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon four months later.

    At the time, the CIA had doubts about reports of the meeting, and the agency and the FBI subsequently concluded that it had never taken place.

    Feith's staff briefed Rumsfeld and former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, leading advocates of invading Iraq, on its findings in August 2002. Presentations also were given to top CIA officials and to the White House, including members of Cheney's staff.

    As late as January 2004, Cheney called Feith's findings, which also were leaked to the conservative Weekly Standard magazine, "the best source of information" on links between Saddam and al-Qaida, even though the Pentagon and the CIA had disavowed the conclusions of Feith's office.

    Levin and Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., who stepped down as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee in January, separately requested the Pentagon inspector general look into whether the activities of Feith's unit were appropriate. Roberts also asked that it examine the legality of the unit's conduct.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    It's like reading two different stories.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

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