When quick results are imperative, conservatives manipulate

Update: The Washington Post has issued a correction for this story that I posted earlier, Official’s Key Report On Iraq Is Faulted

A Feb. 9 front-page article about the Pentagon inspector general’s report regarding the office of former undersecretary of defense Douglas J. Feith incorrectly attributed quotations to that report. References to Feith’s office producing “reporting of dubious quality or reliability” and that the office “was predisposed to finding a significant relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda” were from a report issued by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) in Oct. 2004. Similarly, the quotes stating that Feith’s office drew on “both reliable and unreliable reporting” to produce a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq “that was much stronger than that assessed by the IC [Intelligence Community] and more in accord with the policy views of senior officials in the Administration” were also from Levin’s report. The article also stated that the intelligence provided by Feith’s office supported the political views of senior administration officials, a conclusion that the inspector general’s report did not draw.The two reports employ similar language to characterize the activities of Feith’s office: Levin’s report refers to an “alternative intelligence assessment process” developed in that office, while the inspector general’s report states that the office “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.” The inspector general’s report further states that Feith’s briefing to the White House in 2002 “undercuts the Intelligence Community” and “did draw conclusions that were not fully supported by the available intelligence.”(emphasis mine)

The Right has seized on this as somehow proof that intelligence was not manipulated by Douglas Feith and the administration. Well WaPo got its correction somewhat wrong (though good for them for trying and being concerned about these details, but the IG’s report is not accurately charaterized by calling it “Levin’s report”). The the fringe right-wing blog Hot Air, WaPo quasi-retracts page-one story about Feith Iraq/AQ intel, posted at 6:49 pm on February 9, 2007 by Allahpundit

And yet, per the Times: “According to Congressional officials [who’d read the report], Mr. Feith’s statement and the policy office’s rebuttal, the report concluded that none of the Pentagon’s activities were illegal and that they did not violate Defense Department directives.” In which case … whence the impropriety? He conducted his own investigation and came to a different conclusion than the CIA. Like Captain Ed says, I thought the left liked dissent.

One can’t help but give pause to note their confidence in the New York Times a paper that Hot Air’s ideological cousin Ann Coulter considers so liberal and un-American that it should be bombed. When they think they’ve found something that supports their case suddenly the NYT is their best friend. Liberals do like dissent and many are still wondering why dissenting views within the intelligence community were not given the kind of consideration they deserved when making one of the most serious decisions a country can make. Senator Levin, unlike the pathological liars at Hot Air actually checked back with the Inspector General to confirm his understanding of the original report from two years ago. The Right does understand that it was not Senator Levin’s personal report, but the Inspector General’s

In the United States, an Inspector General (IG) is a type of investigator charged with examining the actions of a government agency, military organization, or military contractor as a general auditor of their operations to ensure they are operating in compliance with general established policies of the government, to audit the effectiveness of security procedures, or to discover the possibility of misconduct, waste, fraud, theft, or certain types of criminal activity by individuals or groups related to the agency’s operation, usually involving some misuse of the organization’s funds or credit.

In the United States, there exist numerous Offices of Inspectors General (OIGs) at the federal, state, and local levels. Federally, there exist 57 different and autonomous OIGs, a significant increase since the statutory creation of the initial 12 OIGs by the IG Act of 1978. While all of these OIGs operate separate of one another, their activities in the detection and prevention of fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement of government programs and operations of their parent organization, OIGs share information and some coordination through the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency (PCIE) and the Executive Council on Integrity and Efficiency (ECIE), as created or amended in 1992 by Executive Order 12805

In other words contrary to the impression that Hot Air, Captain Ed and other rabid righty blogs have tried to create, about this story the IG is an independent government body. Senator Levin’s clarification of the facts with the IG show that Feith did indeed manipulate intelligence,

In response to some of my specific questions, the Inspector General confirms today that:

* The Feith office produced “its own intelligence analysis of the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda” and presented “its analysis to other offices in the Executive Branch (including the Secretary of Defense and the staffs of the National Security Council and the Office of the Vice President)”;

* The “intelligence analysis produced by the Feith office differ[ed] from the Intelligence Community analysis on the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda”;

* The Feith office presented “a briefing on the Iraq-al Qaeda relationship to the White House in September 2002 unbeknownst to the Director of Central Intelligence, containing information that was different from the briefing presented to the DCI, not vetted by the Intelligence Community, and that was not supported by the available intelligence (for example, concerning the alleged Atta meeting), without providing the IC notice of the briefing or an opportunity to comment”; and

* The briefing drew “conclusions (or ‘findings’) that were not supported by the available intelligence, such as the conclusion ‘intelligence indicates cooperation in all categories; mature symbiotic relationship’, or that there were ‘multiple areas of cooperation,’ and ‘shared interest and pursuit of WMD’ and ‘some indications of possible Iraqi coordination with al Qaida specifically related to 9/11’.”

The Inspector General found that these “inappropriate” activities of the Feith office were authorized by the Secretary of Defense or the Deputy Secretary of Defense.

These findings of the Inspector General reinforce the conclusion that I reached in my report more than two years ago: the office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy generated its own intelligence analysis, inconsistent with the views of the Intelligence Community, in order to support the policy goals of the Administration.

Two recently confirmed senior Administration officials have publicly expressed their own concerns about these activities. On May 18, 2006, General Michael Hayden – now the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency – testified at his nomination hearing that he was not comfortable with the Feith office’s approach to intelligence analysis. Similarly, on December 5, 2006, Robert Gates – now the Secretary of Defense – testified at his nomination hearing that he understands that the Feith office was producing its own intelligence analysis and “I have a problem with that.”

The Inspector General found it unnecessary to make any recommendations in his report, because changed relationships between the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community “significantly reduce the opportunity for the inappropriate conduct of intelligence activities outside of intelligence channels” in the future.

Unfortunately, the damage has already been done. Senior Administration officials used the twisted intelligence produced by the Feith office in making the case for the Iraq war. As I concluded in my October 2004 report:

“Misleading or inaccurate statements about the Iraq-al Qaeda relationship made by senior Administration officials were not supported by IC analyses but more closely reflected the Feith policy office views. These assessments included, among others, allegations by the President that Iraq was an “ally” of al Qaeda; assertions by National Security Advisor Rice and others that Iraq “had” provided training in WMD to al Qaeda; and continued representations by Vice President Cheney that Mohammed Atta may have met with an Iraq intelligence officer before the 9/11 attacks when the CIA didn’t believe the meeting took place.”

In November 2003, the top secret report of the Feith office was leaked to the Weekly Standard. Shortly thereafter, Vice President Cheney said publicly that the article in the Weekly Standard was the “best source” of information about the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda.

The bottom line is that intelligence relating to the Iraq-al Qaeda relationship was manipulated by high ranking officials in the Department of Defense to support the Administration’s decision to invade Iraq when the intelligence assessments of the professional analysts of the Intelligence Community did not provide the desired compelling case. The Inspector General’s report is a devastating condemnation of inappropriate activities in the DOD policy office that helped take this nation to war.

The ever bizarre conservative blog Powerline in a story by Assrocket apparently phoned their post in between nap times, February 09, 2007, The Evolution of a News Story, Posted by John at 04:49 PM

We are living in a topsy-turvy world in which 1) it is acknowledged that the CIA’s performance in the months leading up the Iraq War was dreadful, but 2) it is also claimed that disagreeing with the CIA’s assessments was somehow “improper.”

Well, it could be worse. Senator Levin would have welcomed the conclusion that it is illegal to disagree with the CIA, no matter how wrong that agency might be.

John made it through law school without reading comprehension skills and being too lazy to do his research. So much for meritocracy.

Flopping Aces fell on his little plastic sword over the whole Jamal Hussein right-wing fiasco and now has posted a blatant lie about the IG report, DoD Inspector General Report Destroys Claims of Pentagon Intel Manipulation, Posted by Scott Malensek on February 9, 2007 at 9:25 AM

Several bi-partisan, independent, and even international investigations were conducted to see if the Bush Administration had lied to take the nation to war, and none of those investigations found evidence of that. As political cover evaporated, many of these politicians tried to say that the Department of Defense’ Office of Special Plans had tricked these intelligence committee veterans. They lied.

November 6, 2005, Report Warned Bush Team About Intelligence Suspicions

WASHINGTON, Nov. 5 – A high Qaeda official in American custody was identified as a likely fabricator months before the Bush administration began to use his statements as the foundation for its claims that Iraq trained Al Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons, according to newly declassified portions of a Defense Intelligence Agency document.

The document, an intelligence report from February 2002, said it was probable that the prisoner, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, “was intentionally misleading the debriefers” in making claims about Iraqi support for Al Qaeda’s work with illicit weapons.

The document provides the earliest and strongest indication of doubts voiced by American intelligence agencies about Mr. Libi’s credibility. Without mentioning him by name, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Colin L. Powell, then secretary of state, and other administration officials repeatedly cited Mr. Libi’s information as “credible” evidence that Iraq was training Al Qaeda members in the use of explosives and illicit weapons.

Bush in fact rejected the findings of inspectors that went into Iraq before the invasion, Ex-Iraq inspector: Prewar intelligence failure ‘disturbing’

During the debate over whether to invade Iraq, the Bush administration argued repeatedly that Iraq was violating U.N. resolutions requiring its disarmament after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The administration also dismissed findings of U.N. weapons inspectors, who returned shortly before the war and reported finding no banned weapons.

To date other then a few old chemical shells that have been around since the eighties and deteriorated to the point of being useless as real weapons the inspectors were correct and Bush was, as all the evidence suggests determined to invade Iraq whether Iraq posed a national security threat or not. Secrets, Evasions and Classified Reports

In fact, a declassified version of the NIE was publicly released just 10 days later, and it showed almost precisely the opposite. The NIE, it turned out, contained caveats and qualifiers that had never been publicly acknowledged by the administration prior to the invasion of Iraq. It also included key dissents by State Department intelligence analysts, Energy Department scientists and Air Force technical experts about some important aspects of the administration’s case.

The assertion that still-secret material would bolster the administration’s claims about Iraqi WMD was “certainly not accurate, it was not true,” says Jessica Mathews, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, who coauthored a study last year, titled “A Tale of Two Intelligence Estimates,” about different versions of the NIE that were released. If Miller’s account is correct, Libby was “misrepresenting the intelligence” that was contained in the document, she said.

“I don’t like manipulation, compromise, or interventionistic winemaking – unless something goes wrong.”
Robert M. Parker, Jr.