SSCI Phase II News
Some of the best news I've heard for a while - Senator Frist's comments after coming out of closed session hearings 2005-11-01:
The one thing that is important for us to mention, for the benefit of our colleagues, is an agreement between the leader and myself to the following three points: that the majority leader and the Democratic leader will appoint three members from their respective parties. This task force of six Senators will meet and report back to leadership no later than the close of business on November 14 the following: The Intelligence Committee's progress on the phase II review of the prewar intelligence and its schedule for completion.
I know it's not much, but at least it's something. It may trickle down from "leadership" and give us poor plebes who're charged with oversight of govt an idea of how whatever's going on is going on.

Senator Robert's comments:
There was some talk on the floor that got a little personal, and I regret that. It seems to me it was rather convenient because it was only yesterday our staff was working with the staff of the minority indicating that not this week but next week we would spend as much time as possible, 5 or 6 days, to complete our work in regard to phase II. It isn't as though it has been delayed. As a matter of fact, it has been ongoing. As a matter of fact, we have been doing our work on phase II. It is difficult, as I will indicate in a minute, while I go through these provisions on what we agreed to do.
I wonder if 5 or 6 days is really enough. The Senate decided it needed a six senator committee to figure out what progress'd been made on Phase II and what its schedule for completion was.
Also, IIRC, Phase II's ETA has already come and gone at least once.

Senator Roberts again:
This is what phase II is all about. That is what we will begin as we have planned to do and what our staff has indicated to the other side's staff in regard to what we were going to do as of next week--that we will start next week, and we will hope to continue that effort. We will cancel all other hearings until we can reach some sort of an accommodation. Now, if we can do this on the WMD report, certainly we can do it in regard to phase II.
I find the word choice, 'accommodation', to be troublesome. I don't know if it's possible to be paranoid about such things.

Senator Roberts:
The biggest issue is as follows. There are five things in phase II: Whether public statements and reports and testimony regarding Iraq by U.S. Government officials made between the gulf war period and the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom were substantiated by intelligence information. In other words, the public statements made in the administration and the public statements made by public officials, whether they be in Congress, whether they be in the administration, or whatever, Congress, because we voted for regime change and we voted to go to war. Obviously, the administration, because they looked at the intelligence and thought our national security was in danger, we went to war.

I think that he has a case to make that when they voted, they 'knew' they were voting for regime change; however...
From the Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq:
SEC. 3. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.
(a) AUTHORIZATION. The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to
(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and
(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq.

Since 'regime change' is not mentioned as an item that the PotUSA was specifically authorized to use the Armed Forces for, Senator Robert's statement that Congress "voted for regime change" requires that one makes the case that regime change was necessary either to "defend the national security of the United States" or to "enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions." Otherwise, it's not correct to say that the Congress voted for 'regime change.'

Further, what has happened is more profound of a change than merely changing a regime. Accordingly, the Admin bears the onus of showing that a total restructuring of Iraqi governmental and military structures was necessary either to "defend the national security of the United States" or to "enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions."

Senator Roberts did not assert that Congress voted for a restructuring of Iraq's entire governmental and military structure as well as various elements of Iraqi civil society in general.

{ Seems like a good time to note my curiosity about a document that's mandated by the War Powers Resolution. The PotUSA was authorized to use force in Iraq under the War Powers Resolution.
From the Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq:
(c) WAR POWERS RESOLUTION REQUIREMENTS. --
(1) SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION. -- Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.
(2) APPLICABILITY OF OTHER REQUIREMENTS. -- Nothing in this resolution supersedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.
From the War Powers Resolution
REPORTING
SEC. 4. (a) In the absence of a declaration of war, in any case in which United States Armed Forces are introduced--
... the president shall submit within 48 hours to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and to the President pro tempore of the Senate a report, in writing, setting forth--
(C) the estimated scope and duration of the hostilities or involvement.

I'd like to see what the Admin's "estimated scope and duration of the hostilities or involvement" was back in March 2003.
Anyway, back to just after the Senate's closed hearing...}

Some more of Robert's comments:
On May 17, in the spring, we started down the list of statements.
We didn't get very far.
We didn't get very far.

Since May the SSCI hasn't gotten very far, yet 5 or 6 days will be enough to wrap things up satisfactorily?

Senator Roberts:
The postwar findings about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and their weapons programs and the links to terrorism and how they compare with prewar assessments. That was done by Charles Duelfer and David Kay. Those two paragraphs are already written. You can simply say that Charles Duelfer and David Kay did not find WMD. That was their conclusion. They made some statements about it.

Only noteworthy for who is saying what he's saying. Many folks still like to hedge on this one.

Senator Roberts:
There are five issues to phase II.
It is required that I note at this point in the narrative that there are actually six or seven issues (depending on how one counts) to Phase II. It's also required that I note Senator Roberts proceeds to list four issues, not five.

Senator Roberts:
Any intelligence activities relating to Iraq conducted by the policy counterterrorism evaluation group and the Office of Special Plans within the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense. This involved a question as to whether Under Secretary Douglas Feith had a special intelligence group that had undue influence in the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate and whether or not that group and that intelligence had an undue influence on the administration's decision to go to war.

This term of reference that the Senator is referencing, is, of course, broader than the above mentioned question, "whether ... Feith had a ... group [w/] undue influence [on the NIE] and whether or not that group and that intelligence had an undue influence on the administration's decision to go to war."{"F.any intelligence activities relating to Iraq conducted by the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group (PCTEG) and the Office of Special Plans within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy"}

The NIE was assembled by members of the US Intel Community. Neither the DoD ODP's OSP nor the PCTEG are members of the US Intel Community. Neither group had a thing to do w/ the NIE. So, I suspect that this is a distractive ploy. Perhaps I'm wrong though.

When the Senator refers to "that intelligence" (as in "whether or not that group and that intelligence") it's not clear which intelligence he's speaking of. Was it the aforementioned NIE, or is it the intel that the OSP cherry-picked showing an operational/collaborative relationship between Hussein and al-Qa'ida.

As to whether "that group and that intelligence had an undue influence on the administration's decision to go to war," well, that seems to be missing the point as well. Since the Admin set up the offices to "supplement" what they were getting from the US Intel Community, the more relevant question is whether "the administration's decision to go to war" had "undue influence" on "that group and [its] intelligence." So, I perhaps this is a distractive ploy as well.

Senator Roberts:
We had Under Secretary Feith before the committee. Then we were going to have him up again. And then ... there was a statement made that what was going on in the Office of Special Plans could be illegal. When that happened, everyone down there at the Office of Special Plans got lawyered up or at least thought about seeking legal representation.
We ... have asked the Department of Defense inspector general to come back and tell us if there was anything wrong in regard to what the Office of Special Plans was doing. We will rely on that. We will put that in the report. We can believe the inspector general of the Department of Defense.

Because the people under investigation by a Senate Select Committee "lawyered up" the Senate is going to vacate it's oversight responsibilities. Weak punks. Why not just turn the entirety of your oversight responsibilities to representatives of the agencies you're overseeing?


Senator Roberts:
Finally, the use of the intelligence community of information provided by the Iraqi National Congress.
The whole question again was, how much effect did the Iraqi National Congress and Mr. Chalabi have on the input to the administration as to whether or not they would go to war.

A better way to couch this question may be, "How much effect did the Iraqi National Congress and Mr. Chalabi have on the OSP's and the PCTEG's reporting to the Admin and on the input to the administration?
It should now be noted that the Iraqi National Congress's Intelligence Collection Program (headed by a known Iranian agent, Aras Karim Habib, whom Oliver North suspected of working for an Israeli intel service as well) reported directly to the Office of the Vice President (John Hannah). The INC's CIA-and-State-Dept-shunned yet Pentagon funded ICP is the crew that brought us "deliberately misleading" anecdotal stylings of Curveball.

You may be wondering at this point, "Which issues did Senator Roberts list and which ones did he leave out?" I'm duty bound to tell you.
Senator Roberts listed:
  • postwar findings about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction;

  • prewar intelligence about postwar Iraq, (the Senator called it the third issue though he listed it second);

  • intelligence activities relating to Iraq conducted by the policy counterterrorism evaluation group and the Office of Special Plans; and,

  • the use of the intelligence community of information provided by the Iraqi National Congress;

Senator Roberts left out:
  • whether public statements and reports and testimony regarding Iraq by U.S. Government officials made between the Gulf War period and the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom were substantiated by intelligence information;

  • the collection of intelligence on Iraq from the end of the Gulf War to the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom; and,

  • the postwar findings about Iraq’s ... links to terrorism and how they compare with prewar assessments.

Human nature (or perhaps merely my personal disposition) forces me to speculate as to why the the Senator would fail to mention some of the more salient points. I'll speculate quietly. We can all speculate quietly while awaiting more info.

Senator Roberts:
I am very pleased to announce, on schedule, exactly what we planned to do, we will start next week.
For those keeping score, the Senate decided it needed a specially assigned subcommittee to determine Phase II's "schedule for completion." Senator Roberts assures us that it's already on schedule.

Senator Rockefeller has the same odd count that Senator Roberts had:
On February 12, 2004, the Intelligence Committee unanimously agreed and publicly announced that five issues would be added to the investigation, phase II.
One, whether public statements, records and testimony regarding Iraq by Government officials made between the gulf war period, end of gulf war I and the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom, whether those statements by Government officials were substantiated by intelligence information.
Prewar intelligence is No. 2, prewar intelligence assessment about postwar Iraq.
Three, any intelligence activities related to Iraq within the Office of Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, headed by one Douglas Feith.
Four, the use of the intelligence community of information provided by the Iraqi National Congress.
Five, the postwar findings about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and weapons programs and links to terrorism.

As we can see from the actual "publicly announced" unanimous agreement of the SSCI these are the additional "terms of reference" agreed upon:
B. the collection of intelligence on Iraq from the end of the Gulf War to the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom;

C. whether public statements and reports and testimony regarding Iraq by U.S. Government officials made between the Gulf War period and the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom were substantiated by intelligence information;

D. the postwar findings about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and weapons programs and links to terrorism and how they compare with prewar assessments;

E. prewar intelligence assessments about postwar Iraq;

F. any intelligence activities relating to Iraq conducted by the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group (PCTEG) and the Office of Special Plans within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; and

G. the use by the Intelligence Community of information provided by the Iraqi National Congress (INC).
Senator Rockefeller leaves out "B. the collection of intelligence on Iraq from the end of the Gulf War to the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom." Feel free to speculate about this omission as well.

Senator Rockefeller again:
My colleague, the chairman of the committee, has referred to all of the things that have been done. In fact, we have had one hearing. And he referred to work that would take place next week. I didn't know about that.
Since the committee identified these five issues as a high priority in February of last year, I and other Democrats on the committee have repeatedly urged completion of the review--we agreed to it unanimously--and had been assured by the chairman, time and time again, that the committee will fulfill this commitment.
Yet, despite these repeated assurances, it is clear that only token work, at best, has been done on phase II since it was authorized. That is unacceptable. We have had only one business meeting on phase II, and no report has been written for members to review--nothing. The public pronouncement of Chairman Roberts earlier this year that phase II was ``on the back burner'' has been, unfortunately, accurate.
Offered w/o comment.

Senator Rockefeller again:
  • When it was reported that the Vice President's Chief of Staff Scooter Libby and the National Security Council prepared a draft speech making the intelligence case against Iraq and sent it to the CIA for Secretary of State Powell to give before the United Nations in February of 2003, my staff asked that the committee obtain the NSC, National Security Council, document as part of our ongoing review of how the Powell speech was formulated. Our requests were denied by the majority.
Given the quality of what Powell did not refuse to say, I too have wondered about what "bullshit" got thrown out.

Senator Rockefeller some more:
  • Because of this denial, I personally wrote to the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Mr. Tenet, requesting the Libby/NSC input into the Powell speech--it was important to have that information--and other documents in October of 2003. Director Tenet did not respond to my letter, nor did he respond to my two subsequent letters for the NSC paper in January and March of 2003.

  • ... last week's National Journal article, which reports that Vice President Cheney and his Chief of Staff Libby overruled White House lawyers and withheld this information--withheld these documents--[re Powell's UN speech] from us, and other documents from the Senate Intelligence Committee.

  • When, during the committee's Iraq investigation, my staff requested that the committee interview the White House speechwriter who wrote the President's 2003 State of the Union Address to better understand how the debunked claim that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger made it into the President's speech--how it got in there, when the same claim was removed, at the CIA's insistence, a few months earlier in Cincinnati--our request was denied by the majority.

  • When we requested that the committee obtain a copy of the one-page summary of the Intelligence Community's National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs that was prepared for the President in October 2002, our request was denied by the majority.
Kudos to the Senator for at least being specific.

The Senators requested info on Powell's UN speech, the 2003 SotU speech, and a summary of the NIE prepared for the PotUSA. These seem like they'd be items that are inherently relevant to Phase II's terms of reference.
12 Nov 2005 by Simon W. Moon

A Q&A w/ the recently publicly released Kerr Report
Intelligence and analysis on Iraq: Issues for the Intelligence Community
(scanned image pdf)* (c&p-able text pdf)** (html)**

Q: Why was the Iraq WMD intel not as good as it shopuld have been?
A: Iraq didn't get enough attention because the CIA was busy combating terrorism and WMD proliferation.

from the Kerr Report, p5:
Iraq was not the only significant intelligence problem facing the Community in the years immediately preceding the war. Counter terrorism and counter proliferation were given higher priority ...

Bureaucratic drollery no doubt.
Least ways, I'm roflmao.

Q: What about the Saddam Hussein - al-Qa'ida linkage?
A: The report says that despite the US Intelligence Community's purposely aggressive, exhaustive and repetitive searches for such a relationship, their assessment was and still is that no operational or collaborative relationship existed.

from the Kerr Report, p11:
In the case of al-Qa'ida, the constant stream of questions aimed at finding links between Saddam and the terrorist network caused analysts take what they termed a “purposely aggressive approach” in conducting exhaustive and repetitive searches for such links. Despite the pressure, however, the Intelligence Community remained firm in its assessment that no operational or collaborative relationship existed.

All of Team Bush's cacophonous din to the contrary was made in spite of the Best Information Available at the Time.

Q: Is irony really dead?
A: No. As matter of fact, irony still abounds and is as plentiful as ever.

from the Kerr Report, p2:
In an ironic twist, the policy community was receptive to technical intelligence (the weapons program), where the analysis was wrong, but apparently paid little attention to intelligence on cultural and political issues (post-Saddam Iraq), where the analysis was right
.
The story's not very leggy yet; yet, ...

Report: Intel analysts pressured to find al-Qaida, Saddam links

MarineTimes.com
October 14, 2005
Intelligence analysts were under heavy administration pressure before the Iraq war to find links between Saddam Hussein’s government and al-Qaida, causing them to take a “purposely aggressive approach” to the issue, according to a newly declassified CIA report.
The analysts never found such ties and remained firm in their conviction that “no operational or collaborative relationship existed,” the report said
.
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press

White House Ignored CIA Warnings on Iraq
The White House disregarded intelligence projections on post-Saddam Iraq according to a newly-declassified CIA report ...
The report, from July 2004, is the third of three prepared by a group of intelligence experts led by Richard J. Kerr, a former deputy director of central intelligence, to examine the U.S. Intelligence Community's assessments in the months before the U.S. invasion. The first two reports remain classified ...
... first reported by USA Today on October 12 and is featured in an article by Douglas Jehl in [10-13's] New York Times. The text of the report was published this month with an edited introduction in the CIA's Studies in Intelligence journal (Vol. 49, No. 3). The complete, unedited version of the report was declassified in response to a Freedom of Information Act request and appeal by National Security Archive senior fellow Jeffrey Richelson.


*
GWU's NatlSecArchive

**
Irrrationally Informed
20 Oct 2005 by Simon W. Moon

CIA Report Offers Fresh Critiques of Iraq
20051014_CIA_report_offers_fresh_critiques_of_Iraq_intelligence_NOTES

http://www.govexec.com/story_page.cfm?articleid=32567&dcn=todaysnews

CIA report offers fresh critiques of Iraq intelligence
By David Ruppe, Global Security Newswire
October 14, 2005

... the report appears to contradict two major conclusions in a report from ... the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction.

[Kerr Report:] ... [Team Bush's] views on Iraqi [WMD] and pressure for certain information might have affected the quality of analyses the intelligence community provided.

[CICUSRWMD] report ... found "no evidence of political pressure to influence the intelligence community's prewar assessments of Iraq's weapons programs."

[Kerr Report:] ... intelligence community [should've asked] whether Iraq may have abandoned [WMD] programs ...

[CICUSRWMD report] noted a failure "even to consider the possibility that Saddam Hussein would decide to destroy his chemical and biological weapons and to halt work on his nuclear program after the first Gulf War."

[Kerr Report:] ... the intelligence community might reasonably have concluded Iraqi WMD programs could have been abandoned given a paucity of information indicating they existed.

"Collection strategies should recognize the extreme difficulty of requiring such a regime to prove the negative in the face of assumptions that it is dissembling."
[--Kerr Report]

... the "Duelfer Report" ... concluded ... Iraq ... abandoned ... weapons and programs, was deliberately ambiguous [to maintain] deterrence ... had no intention of attacking the [US] ...

[Kerr Report:] ... pressure to satisfy ... requests for intelligence regarding suspected Iraqi weapons capabilities and links to al-Qaeda might have driven the intelligence community to cut corners and focus on providing the sought-after information rather than providing a more balanced picture.

"Eagerly responsive to quickly developed policy requirements, the quick and assured response gave the appearance of both knowledge and confidence that, in retrospect, was too high."
[--Kerr Report]

... Kerr report does not blame Bush administration ... "serious pressure from policy-makers almost always accompanies serious issues." [Intelligence Community] was satisfied to produce volumes of information that satisfied the intelligence consumers ...

"The extensive layers of critical management review that traditionally served to insure both the validity and standing of finished intelligence products seem to have been ineffective in identifying key issues affecting collection and analysis."
[--Kerr Report]

[Kerr Report:] ... daily, close intelligence community contacts with policy-makers may have led to the conveyance of intelligence less tempered with caveats than would appear in written reports.

"In the case of Iraq, daily briefings and other contacts at the highest levels undoubtedly influenced policy in ways that went beyond the coordinated analysis contained in the written product. Close and continuing personal contact, unfettered by the formal caveats that usually accompany written production, probably imparted a greater sense of certainty to analytic conclusions than the facts would bear."
[--Kerr Report]

... there "remains an open question" about whether "the climate of policy-level pressure" had "contributed to the problem of inconsistent analytic performance."
[--Kerr Report]

a "constant stream of questions" from [Team Bush] on possible Iraq-al Qaeda connections caused analysts to conduct exhaustive, repetitive searches for such links ... [yet] "no operational or collaborative relationship existed."

"Precisely because we've had such inadequate investigation of this intelligence failure, we still haven't learned the real lessons of what went wrong and it seems like this report has started to correct the balance." "There was conscious political effort to push the intelligence in a way that would support an already determined policy. And this report comes closer than any other in recognizing that fundamental reality."
[--Joseph Cirincione, nonproliferation director at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP)]

©2005 by National Journal Group Inc
(Source URL: http://www.govexec.com/story_page.cfm?articleid=32567&dcn=todaysnews)
15 Oct 2005 by Simon W. Moon

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