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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Phase II

Earlier this week, Democrats used Senate rules to force the completion of the second phase of the Intelligence Committee's investigation into Iraq-related intelligence.

Phase II is supposed to investigate the Bush administration's uses of the Iraq information.

What might the Senate find?

Here are some things I'd like them to unearth:

1. Office of Special Plans was thoroughly politicized.

Ranking Democrat Jay Rockefeller already wondered aloud if the Pentagon's Doug Feith was "running a private intelligence failure, which is not lawful." Various journalists have charged that OSP received information directly from the Iraqi National Congress -- and then "stovepiped" that data to the White House and Office of the Vice President. INC already says that the bogus intelligence didn't matter since the group succeeded in achieving its political goals. Is the same true of the Feith-based crowd?

2. The key intelligence report followed the political uses of the intelligence, not vice versa.

The White House was making bold statements about alleged Iraq threats before any new National Intelligence Estimate was produced. Veep Dick Cheney talked tough to the VFW in August and President Bush lectured the UN in mid-September. Condi Rice worried about smoking gun mushroom clouds on national TV in September.

The NIE came out in October.

3. Analysts were forced to work with politicians looking over their shoulders.

The administration denies that it pressured CIA analysts, but Cheney and Scooter Libby apparently visited Langley on multiple occasions to challenge the intelligence analysts working on Iraq.

4. The attempt to discredit Joe Wilson meant that intelligence was politicized.

Someone leaked Valerie Plame's identity to Robert Novak in order to discredit Wilson -- and perhaps to silence future critics. We still don't know who talked to Novak. Patrick Fitzgerald might not be willing to say anything more than "Official A," but the Senate can learn the truth and expose the leaker.

5. The administration ignored the caveats in the intelligence data and completely overlooked the 2003 IAEA and UN findings.

Go back sometime and look at the certainty in the administration's words. Officials kept using these clauses when talking about Iraqi WMD: "there is no doubt," "we know for a fact," "intelligence...leaves no doubt," "there is no question," etc. And they compounded this error by not only ignoring the IAEA, but also by denigrating the institution that got it right.

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