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Ex-Official: Evidence Distorted for War
AP via Excite News ^ | Jun 7, 6:18 AM (ET) | JOHN J. LUMPKIN

Posted on 06/07/2003 7:15:11 AM PDT by leadpencil1

The Bush administration distorted intelligence and presented conjecture as evidence to justify a U.S. invasion of Iraq, according to a retired intelligence official who served during the months before the war.

"What disturbs me deeply is what I think are the disingenuous statements made from the very top about what the intelligence did say," said Greg Thielmann, who retired last September. "The area of distortion was greatest in the nuclear field."

Thielmann was director of the strategic, proliferation and military issues office in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. His office was privy to classified intelligence gathered by the CIA and other agencies about Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear programs.

In Thielmann's view, Iraq could have presented an immediate threat to U.S. security in two areas: Either it was about to make a nuclear weapon, or it was forming close operational ties with al-Qaida terrorists.

Evidence was lacking for both, despite claims by President Bush and others, Thielmann said in an interview this week. Suspicions were presented as fact, contrary arguments ignored, he said.

The administration's prewar portrayal of Iraq's weapons capabilities has not been validated despite weeks of searching by military experts. Alleged stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons have not turned up, nor has significant evidence of a nuclear weapons program or links to the al-Qaida network.

Bush has said administration assertions on Iraq will be verified in time. The CIA and other agencies have vigorously defended their prewar performances.

CIA Director George Tenet, responding to similar criticism last week, said in a statement: "The integrity of our process was maintained throughout, and any suggestion to the contrary is simply wrong." On Friday, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency acknowledged he had no hard evidence of Iraqi chemical weapons last fall but believed Iraq had a program in place to produce them.

Also Friday, Sen. John Warner, R-Va., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he was not prepared to place blame for any intelligence shortcomings until all information is in.

"There are always times when a single sentence or a single report evokes a lot of concern and some doubt," Warner told reporters after a closed hearing of his committee. "But thus far, in my own personal assessment of this situation, the intelligence community has diligently and forthrightly and with integrity produced intelligence and submitted it to this administration and to the Congress of the United States."

Thielmann suggested mistakes may have been made at points all along the chain from when intelligence is gathered, analyzed, presented to the president and then provided to the public.

The evidence of a renewed nuclear program in Iraq was far more limited than the administration contended, he said.

"When the administration did talk about specific evidence - it was basically declassified, sensitive information - it did it in a way that was also not entirely honest," Thielmann said.

In his State of the Union address, Bush said, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

The Africa claim rested on a purported letter or letters between officials in Iraq and Niger held by European intelligence agencies. The communications are now accepted as forged, and Thielmann said he believed the information on Africa was discounted months before Bush mentioned it.

"I was very surprised to hear that be announced to the United States and the entire world," he said.

Thielmann said he had presumed Iraq had supplies of chemical and probably biological weapons. He particularly expected U.S. forces to find caches of mustard agent or other chemical weapons left over from Saddam's old stockpiles.

"We appear to have been wrong," he said. "I've been genuinely surprised at that."

One example where officials took too far a leap from the facts, according to Thielmann: On Feb. 11, CIA Director Tenet told the Senate Intelligence Committee that Iraq "retains in violation of U.N. resolutions a small number of Scud missiles that it produced before the Gulf War."

Intelligence analysts supposed Iraq may have had some missiles because they couldn't account for all the Scuds it had before the first Gulf War, Thielmann said. They could have been destroyed, dismantled, miscounted or still somewhere in Saddam's inventory.

Some critics have suggested that the White House and Pentagon policy-makers pressured the CIA and military intelligence to come up with conclusions favorable to an attack-Iraq policy. The CIA and military have denied such charges. Thielmann said that generally he felt no such pressure.

Although his office did not directly handle terrorism issues, Thielmann said he was similarly unconvinced of a strong link between al-Qaida and Saddam's government.

Yet, the implication from Bush on down was that Saddam supported Osama bin Laden's network. Iraq and the Sept. 11 attacks frequently were mentioned in the same sentence, even though officials have no good evidence of any link between the two.

TOPICS: Government; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: baitandswitch; betrayal; cia; desperation; dia; distortion; fiasco; georgetenet; gregthielmann; intelligence; iraqifreedom; johnwarner; proof; slightofhand; wmd
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To: Agape
It would require a concerted effort to slant intell on both sides of the Atlantic, and remember how reluctant Blair was to pull the trigger. He was viewed as a damper on Bush's enthusiasm. But he would not relent. He signed on. If there was a conspiracy to deceive about the intelligence, it was a rather large one that covered two sides of an ocean with no part of it stepping forward with evidence that such a conspiracy existed.
41 posted on 06/07/2003 9:57:10 AM PDT by Owen
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To: Mike4Freedom
Mike wrote:

"The down side risk was considerable as we see in the rejuvenation of Al Queda."


What? Are you saying we shouldn't go after, arrest, make war, hunt down, etc..etc... Because "they" might want to come back and hurt us..because we did what we did? Geesh, man...that line of thinking is wrong headed..and the end result is paralysis.


42 posted on 06/07/2003 10:20:26 AM PDT by Osage Orange (Hillary Clinton: "She makes a hornet look cuddly.")
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To: ohiofarmboy
You wrote:

"Well, from the very beginning Scott Ritter, most of Europe, and the UN inspectors under Hans Blix,"


Well, yeah...I believe those guys.

43 posted on 06/07/2003 10:27:58 AM PDT by Osage Orange (Hillary Clinton: "She makes a hornet look cuddly.")
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Comment #44 Removed by Moderator

Comment #45 Removed by Moderator

To: Mike4Freedom
Remember that history will know the answer with full certainty.

"History" can't even agree whether FDR knew about Pearl
Harbor in advance, or not.  And that was sixty years ago.
46 posted on 06/07/2003 10:32:43 AM PDT by gcruse (Superstition is a mind in chains.)
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To: alnick
Our critics say that WE are the ones seeing zebras.
47 posted on 06/07/2003 12:07:45 PM PDT by jammer
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To: Mike4Freedom; MEG33
...."determine the truth ..."

CNN ^ | Feb. 17, 1998 | Bill Clinton - Text of President Clinton's address to Joint Chiefs of Staff and Pentagon staff on Iraq. [Excerpt]:

"...Previously, it [Iraq/Saddam] had vehemently denied the very thing it just simply admitted once Saddam Hussein's son-in-law defected to Jordan and told the truth.

Now listen to this, what did it admit?

It admitted, among other things, an offensive biological warfare capability notably 5,000 gallons of botulinum, which causes botulism; 2,000 gallons of anthrax; 25 biological-filled Scud warheads; and 157 aerial bombs.

And I might say UNSCOM inspectors believe that Iraq has actually greatly understated its production.

As if we needed further confirmation, you all know what happened to his son-in-law when he made the untimely decision to go back to Iraq.

Next, throughout this entire process, Iraqi agents have undermined and undercut UNSCOM. ...".

48 posted on 06/07/2003 12:13:10 PM PDT by Matchett-PI (Marxist DemocRATS, Nader-Greens, and Religious Zealots = a clear and present danger to our Freedoms.)
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To: fml; Mike4Freedom
"Back in 1998 the Democrates were giving all the same reasons for taking out Saddam, and in 2003 it finally happened. History will show Pres. Bush did what the country ( at least many in the Democrate Senate) wanted Clinton to do."


Hey, Clinton Fans: We "Finished the Job!"

June 3, 2003

Let me illustrate how easily liberals and these politically inept Democrats catch themselves in quicksand, or how easily they allow themselves to be caught. What was their big beef after the Gulf War I?

They chanted, "Bush 41 didn't finish the job." Of course, the "job" was never to remove Saddam from power, and of course they were the ones who demanded we halt the war when they saw the Highway of Death photos.

Nevertheless, now Bush 43 has "finished the job," has he not? He has - and thus they are trapped!

The mistakes the Monday Morning Quarterback Party said were made in '91 have been fixed.

"Oh, no, it was an illegitimate effort! It shouldn't have happened! There weren't any weapons of mass destruction, even if that was only one reason given for going in there and enforcing the resolutions of our beloved United Nations.

Saddam wasn't that bad of a guy!"

Yes, pretty soon they're going to be telling us that the torture chamber stuff was all made up.

They're going to have to, if they're going to remain consistent - and when they do they'll give us more proof of why they aren't to be trusted with the defense of this country.

I don't know how many of you liberals see the depth of the hole you are digging for yourselves, or how many of you realize who the architects of that hole are.

It's none other than Bill and Hillary Clinton. They're taking you people to depths you've never seen so that you don't have a prayer of getting power back in 2004, then they're going to run in 2008.

Bill Clinton is the most active ex-president in criticizing his successor that we've ever seen, even as he "sucks up all the oxygen" from nine Democratic candidates who're trying to get traction. It's a little bit more complicated than setting up Hillary's 2008 run for the White House, but not by much.

Your lust, your idolatry, your mistaken belief that Bill Clinton was the greatest politician to come down the pike because he routinely whacked and beat conservatives at every political turn, has blinded you.

You're following somebody who has no guts or principles, who doesn't care a rat's rear end about you. It's about advancing themselves and their careers, not you!

When it comes to other people, the Clinton's bumper sticker slogan is, "We Brake for Nobody." So you silly little plebes keep this stuff up, claiming that terrorist threats are made up, etc. You're only hurting yourselves - and I have no problem with that."

Read the Article... NY Post: I'm the only Dem who can beat Bush: Joe Lieberman

CIA Web Site: Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs

49 posted on 06/07/2003 12:22:49 PM PDT by Matchett-PI (Marxist DemocRATS, Nader-Greens, and Religious Zealots = a clear and present danger to our Freedoms.)
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To: Matchett-PI
Thank you for the info.
50 posted on 06/07/2003 4:53:06 PM PDT by MEG33
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To: Consort
It became apparent during the war when WMD were not jumping out in front of us that we were going to have this problem. Bush should have been ready for this...maybe he is, or maybe Pres Bush really believed the WMDs would be found by now. There seems to be a lot of circumstantial evidence that something was going on in Iraq. The WMDs are either well hidden or they have been distributed all over the planet. SH had plenty of time to do that thanks to the UN. I'm still not ready to say there were none. They need to change the name of the Democrat party to "The Mob". I hope it backfires on them.
51 posted on 06/07/2003 4:53:30 PM PDT by virgil
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To: All
-Weapons of Mass Destruction ( or Distorsion or Deception? You decide...)--
52 posted on 06/07/2003 4:57:15 PM PDT by backhoe
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To: Mike4Freedom
Time does not always produce the truth as you believe it does. For example, who killed JFK, where is Jimmy Hoffa, how were the pyramids constructed, is Jesus the son of God, is there a God. Bottomline is that Saddam had to be removed and thankfully he was. I could care less whether WMD are found or not and therefore I do not need a useless commission whose findings will be disputed by some and accepted by others.
53 posted on 06/08/2003 6:26:17 AM PDT by Robert DeLong
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To: leadpencil1
Never trust the State Department!
54 posted on 06/08/2003 6:30:23 AM PDT by verity
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To: Robert DeLong
Bottomline is that Saddam had to be removed and thankfully he was. I could care less whether WMD are found or not....

If there were no unconventional weapons and Saddam was not a threat to us, then why would he have to be removed?

If it is just that he was a bad guy, that is not a good reason to risk American lives, or risk inflaming the Muslim street for that matter. There are many bad guys in governments around the world, doing unspeakable things to their own people.

It is only a few months and everyone remembers that those weapons were the number one reason to go to war. None of the other reasons would have gotten the people behind the effort and none of them would have gotten congressional approval. It was the danger of weapons, particularly nuclear weapons or NO WAR. It is too soon to operate as if everyone not a history professor has forgotten.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to know the truth. It is very important. I am particularly disturbed by the forged documents that were submitted with respect to the Niger Uranium purchase. This was a strong argument in Congress and the forgery was discovered before the first missile was fired, but had no effect.

This is as if we had convicted a murderer and, before execution, found that a key piece of evidence used in his trial was false, but went ahead with the execution anyway.

55 posted on 06/08/2003 6:44:09 AM PDT by Mike4Freedom (Freedom is the one thing that you cannot have unless you grant it to everyone else.)
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To: Mike4Freedom
Mike you ignore the fact that Saddam not only possessed WMD he used them during the Iran/Iraq war and he used them against the Kurds. He played a cat and mouse game with weapons inspectors for 7 years until kicking them out in 1998. From 1998 until Dec. 2002 he had free reign to do as he pleased. After spending billions acquiring the technology and equipment to develop them he suddenly eliminated them without documenting their destruction and thereby leaving sanctions in place against his country? If you can answer why he did this then I will give your concerns more attention.

Inspectors believed that Iraq could reconstitute its nuclear weapons program quickly, once sanctions were lifted. Although Iraq might need several years to recreate its enriched-uranium or plutonium programs, it might be able to acquire fissile material on the black market. In that case, it has already learned enough to be able to build a nuclear weapon in less than a year. As a result, Iraq’s nuclear potential would have had to be carefully scrutinized by international inspectors for some time to come.

No Mikey, Saddam was far more than just a bad man, he was a very dangerous man. Probably along the same lines as Hitler. Are you suggesting that we should have allowed Saddam to become a Hitler and acquire nuclear weapons before dealing with him?

You sound as though you believe the documents claiming that Niger sold Saddam and Iraq uranium were forged by this administration. However, the truth is that they were supplied by a Niger diplomat who turned the letters over to Italian intelligence, which provided summaries of the information to Washington and London. Would you as President, responsible for the safety of Americans, dismiss totally these documents?

Your analogy of a criminal convicted of a crime is flawed as well, because no evidence has been secured that proves that Saddam had destroyed his WMD and thus no longer had any. You are only grasping at that theory, supported by the fact that no WMD have been found to date, as it justifies your objections to removing Saddam in the first place.

I do not know where his WMD have gone to and that scares me, but I am certain that he had them before during and after the latest round of inspections, though not necessarily within the boundaries of Iraq, because someone with Saddam's desire for power does not voluntarily destroy them, especially without getting something in return for that act, such as the lifting of sanctions.

56 posted on 06/09/2003 2:39:28 PM PDT by Robert DeLong
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