CIA Report Slams Bush Administration For Ignoring Iraq War Intelligence

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10.12.2005 12:23 PM EDT

According to a newly published study by former CIA analysts, in the run-up to the Iraq war, the Bush administration ignored warnings that an invasion could result in a divided country that would be plagued by ethnic tensions. Instead of planning more rigorously for the aftermath of invasion, the report says, the administration focused its attention on claims that the country had weapons of mass destruction — claims that were quickly proven false.

The allegations, detailed in a USA Today story, come in a report written by a team of four former CIA analysts led by former deputy CIA director Richard Kerr.

"In an ironic twist, the policy community was receptive to technical intelligence (the weapons program), where the analysis was wrong (see "U.S. Intelligence Was 'Dead Wrong' About WMDs, Report Says"), but apparently paid little attention to intelligence on cultural and political issues (post-Saddam Iraq), where the analysis was right," according to the report.

The report was commissioned by then-CIA director George Tenet after the invasion of Iraq, just as he was wrapping up his tenure at the agency in July 2004. It is based on highly classified intelligence information and is the only one of three such reports that has been released in declassified form, according to USA Today. The full report is in the current issue of Studies in Intelligence, a CIA quarterly read mostly by people in the intelligence community.

In addition to the mistakes in assessing Iraq's WMD capabilities, the report says that intelligence before the war "accurately addressed" scenarios on how the battle might develop, how Iraqi forces might or might not fight, and how ethnic factions in the country would react to the invasion.

As a crucial referendum on Iraq's new constitution nears this Saturday, the country's rival Sunni and Shiite factions continue to trade barbs and struggle to hold together a fragile, just-completed agreement over the wording of the controversial document. The situation has been hampered by the ongoing deadly insurgency being led by Sunni factions loyal to former leader Saddam Hussein, who are believed to be behind the almost daily suicide bombings that have claimed hundreds of lives over the past few weeks and who have promised to disrupt the voting process (see "U.S. Sending 1,500 More Troops To Iraq This Fall").

Agreeing with other government reviews that found prewar intelligence on Iraq's weapons program to be faulty, the report also says that those doubts received little attention, "hastening the conversion of heavily qualified judgments into accepted fact." And the use of costly U.S. spy satellites in trying to find evidence of the non-existent WMD facilities did little to help, as they provided accurate information on "relatively few critical issues."

In response to the report's findings, a White House spokesperson said that the administration considered many scenarios involving postwar instability in Iraq and that the report's assertion to the contrary "has been vehemently disputed."