Report: Iraq intelligence ‘dead wrong’

March 31 13:35 2005 Print This Article

Bush says fundamental changes needed in spy agencies
Thursday, March 31, 2005 Posted: 12:43 PM EST (1743 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The U.S. intelligence community was “simply wrong” in its assessments of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction capabilities before the U.S. invasion, according to a panel created to study those failures and recommend corrections to prevent them in the future.

“We conclude that the intelligence community was dead wrong in almost all of its prewar judgments about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction,” said a letter from the commission to President Bush. “This was a major intelligence failure.”

The panel — called the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction — formally presents its report to Bush on Thursday morning.

An October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate warned that Iraq was pursuing weapons of mass destruction, had reconstituted its nuclear weapon program and had biological and chemical weapons.

The Bush administration used those conclusions as part of its argument for the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.

But the Iraq Survey Group — set up to look for weapons of mass destruction or evidence of them in the country — issued a final report saying it saw no weapons or no evidence that Iraq was trying to reconstitute them.

The commission’s report said the principal cause of the intelligence failures was the intelligence community’s “inability to collect good information about Iraq’s WMD programs, serious errors in analyzing what information it could gather and a failure to make clear just how much of its analysis was based on assumptions rather than good evidence.”

“The single most prominent a recurring theme” of its recommendations is “stronger and more centralized management of the intelligence community, and, in general, the creation of a genuinely integrated community, instead of a loose confederation of independent agencies.”

Bush appointed the nine-member commission led by Laurence Silberman, a senior federal appellate court judge who also served in the Nixon and Ford administrations, and former Sen. and Virginia Gov. Chuck Robb, a Democrat.

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