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Wednesday, March 24, 2004

More on Mylroie and Wolfowitz's Grand Delusions

From the Washington Post - June 5, 2003

Vice President Cheney and his most senior aide made multiple trips to the CIA over the past year to question analysts studying Iraq's weapons programs and alleged links to al Qaeda, creating an environment in which some analysts felt they were being pressured to make their assessments fit with the Bush administration's policy objectives, according to senior intelligence officials.

With Cheney taking the lead in the administration last August in advocating military action against Iraq by claiming it had weapons of mass destruction, the visits by the vice president and his chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, "sent signals, intended or otherwise, that a certain output was desired from here," one senior agency official said yesterday.


In a signal of administration concern over the controversy, two senior Pentagon officials yesterday held a news conference to challenge allegations that they pressured the CIA or other agencies to slant intelligence for political reasons. "I know of no pressure," said Douglas J. Feith, undersecretary for policy. "I know of nobody who pressured anybody."

Feith said a special Pentagon office to analyze intelligence in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks did not necessarily focus on Iraq but came up with "some interesting observations about the linkages between Iraq and al Qaeda."

Officials in the intelligence community and on Capitol Hill, however, have described the office as an alternative source of intelligence analysis that helped the administration make its case that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein posed an imminent threat.


Former and current intelligence officials said they felt a continual drumbeat, not only from Cheney and Libby, but also from Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, Feith, and less so from CIA Director George J. Tenet, to find information or write reports in a way that would help the administration make the case that going into Iraq was urgent.

"They were the browbeaters," said a former defense intelligence official who attended some of the meetings in which Wolfowitz and others pressed for a different approach to the assessments they were receiving. "In interagency meetings," he said, "Wolfowitz treated the analysts' work with contempt."


A senior defense official also defended Wolfowitz's questioning: "Does he ask hard questions? Absolutely. I don't think he was trying to get people to come up with answers that weren't true. He's looking for data and answers and he gets frustrated with a lack of answers and diligence and with things that can't be defended."

A major focus for Wolfowitz and others in the Pentagon was finding intelligence to prove a connection between Hussein and Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network.

On the day of the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center,Wolfowitz told senior officials at the Pentagon that he believed Iraq might have been responsible. "I was scratching my head because everyone else thought of al Qaeda," said a former senior defense official who was in one such meeting. Over the following year, "we got taskers to review the link between al Qaeda and Iraq. There was a very aggressive search."

In the winter of 2001-02, officials who worked with Wolfowitz sent the Defense Intelligence Agency a message: Get hold of Laurie Mylroie's book, which claimed Hussein was behind the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, and see if you can prove it, one former defense official said.

The DIA's Middle East analysts were familiar with the book, "Study of Revenge: The First World Trade Center Attack and Saddam Hussein's War Against America." But they and others in the U.S. intelligence community were convinced that radical Islamic fundamentalists, not Iraq, were involved. "The message was, why can't we prove this is right?" said the official.

I hope that members of the newly formed Iraq intelligence failure committee are informed of this Wolfowitz/Mylroie information. The 9/11 committee is charged with only dealing with events leading up to 9/11, so they won't address this particular case of intellectual dysfunction. I would hope that the other would, however. This delusional thinking wasted huge amounts of time because one of the nation's top foreign policy intellectuals turns out to be in thrall of a tin foil hat conspiracy theory. And, that thinking helped lead this country into an unnecessary war that has made this country more vulnerable to its enemies.

Thanks to Antiwar.com for the link.

On TAPPED, Matt Yglesias notes Wolfowitz dancing on the head of a pin as he avoids answering questions about this very thing in the hearings yesterday.

Update: In an amazing moment of Hullabaloo synergy none other than Bob Kerrey seemed to be giving credence to Mylroie and Wolfowitz's apparent beliefs that the '93 WTC attacks were perpetrated by Iraq during Clarke's testimony earlier. Clarke knocked it down very effectively, but I have to wonder just how many people in high places have drunk this noxious kool-aid, anyway?