Congressional Record: February 3, 2004 (Senate)
Page S388-S389


  Mr. DASCHLE. Mr. President, the vital interest of our national 
security is critical to our understanding of the degree to which we can 
cope with the circumstances involving the intelligence failure we have 
now experienced over this past year or more. Two important voices have 
been added to the growing chorus, raising questions about the accuracy 
and the veracity of the allegations the administration used to take 
this country to war. Just yesterday Secretary Powell made clear the 
importance of the prewar claims, suggesting that the case for war was 
much weaker without the allegations of existing stockpiles of weapons. 
When asked whether he would have recommended an invasion last year if 
he knew then what he knows now, Secretary Powell said:

       I don't know, because it was the stockpile that presented 
     the final little piece that made it more of a real and 
     present danger and threat to the region and to the world.

  A year ago this week, Secretary Powell made a lengthy presentation to 
the United Nations Security Council about the grave threat posed by 
Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. The Secretary of State did not 
speak of ``weapons of mass destruction-related program activities,'' 
but of existing stockpiles--existing stockpiles of horrendous weapons 
and the means to deliver them. In large measure because of the alarming 
assertions by Secretary Powell and similar claims by President Bush, 
Vice President Cheney, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, National Security 
Adviser Rice, and many other senior administration officials, a 
majority of Congress voted to give the President the authority to send 
troops to wage war against Iraq.
  Late last month, Secretary Powell had something decidedly different 
to say. For the first time since his U.N. presentation he explicitly 
acknowledged the strong possibility his claims about Iraq's weapons 
were untrue, telling reporters on his trip to Georgia:

       . . . what the open question is: how many stocks [the 
     Iraqis] had, if any? And if they had any, where did they go? 
     And if they didn't have any, then why wasn't that known 

  A few days later, Dr. David Kay, Chief Weapons Inspector in Iraq 
until a couple of weeks ago, told the Armed Services Committee here in 
the Senate the administration's prewar intelligence on Iraq was, in his 
words, ``all wrong.'' While several nonpartisan experts have reached 
similar conclusions about our intelligence and raised concerns about 
the accuracy of the administration statements on this issue, hearing 
Secretary Powell and Dr. Kay, two of this Nation's most respected and 
knowledgeable officials, speak in this manner, has raised some 
questions at home and abroad about the foundation of the 
administration's case for going to war against Iraq.
  Given the significance of these questions, a broad, thorough, 
nonpartisan review of both the intelligence community's assessment of 
the threats posed by Iraq and the administration's use of this 
information is essential to restoring the trust of the American public 
and the international community in this administration and in the 
intelligence system itself.
  The reason is clear. The most effective means to counterterrorism and 
the many other national security challenges facing this Nation today is 
by gaining and maintaining the support of the American people and 
assembling a international coalition. Accurate, unimpeachable 
intelligence is one of the most crucial tools the President has at his 
disposal for rallying the American people and the world. If the 
President is to successfully convince Americans of the need to send 
daughters and sons into harm's way and urge our allies to support 
America's course of action, our intelligence must be seen as absolutely 
credible and accurate. National security experts of both parties 
have begun to warn that the lack of any weapons of mass destruction in 
Iraq after the administration's grave predictions in the runup to the 
war is undermining America's credibility, not only on Iraq but on other 
national security challenges as well.
  For example, the United States increasingly believes that North Korea 
has used the last couple of years to create additional nuclear material 
and weapons. However, officials in South Korea and China have raised 
questions about these conclusions, in part by pointing to our 
intelligence community's failures in Iraq. This failure to reach a 
consensus on the threat posed by North Korea has greatly complicated 
efforts to effectively confront a nation that already possesses nuclear 
weapons and has been characterized as the world's greatest weapons 
  Given these stakes, one would think the President would be the first 
to demand a full and complete accounting of the accuracy and use of 
Iraq prewar intelligence. Yet up until this past weekend, the President 
has stubbornly insisted there was nothing wrong with that intelligence 
or the alarming assertions that he and senior administration officials 
made in the days leading up to the start of the war in Iraq. In a 
remarkable about-face this past week, administration officials said 
publicly that the President will support the establishment of an 
independent commission, provided he appoints the commissioners and 
defines the scope of their work. As in other instances, the 
administration is apparently seeking to both convince the America 
public it supports a thorough investigation at the same time it stacks 
the deck against such an investigation effort ever occurring.
  Although one of the major questions that needs to be addressed is 
whether senior administration officials exaggerated the nature of the 
threat to Iraq, the President is attempting to make the case that 
actions by these officials are best investigated by a commission whose 
members are appointed by and report to those very officials in the 
White House.
  There is little reason to believe a commission appointed and 
controlled by the White House will have the independence and 
credibility necessary to investigate and bring closure to these crucial 
issues. Consider this: At the same time the Secretary of State was 
suggesting that it was an open question whether Iraq had any weapons of 
mass destruction and the chief weapons

[[Page S389]]

inspector in Iraq was concluding that Iraq did not have any stockpiles 
of weapons before the war, Vice President Cheney was on national radio 
still suggesting that it was just a matter of time until such weapons 
could be found.
  If the President's senior advisers are still arguing that the prewar 
intelligence was right, can the American people be certain that 
commissioners handpicked by the White House to undertake an 
investigation defined by the White House will follow the facts wherever 
they lead?
  It would be a shame to have such an important commission start its 
work under the shadow of such doubt. We can avoid ever having to ask 
those questions by forming a truly independent commission that can rise 
above those concerns. I strongly believe the Congress can and should 
establish a truly independent commission to examine the collection, 
analysis, dissemination, and use by policymakers of intelligence on 
Iraq. Twice the Senate has voted to establish just such a commission 
that would be given access to all relevant information, appointed on a 
bipartisan basis by the congressional leadership of the House and 
Senate. I voted for this proposal both times.
  Although supporters of this commission fell short both times, I 
continue to believe that after putting our troops in harm's way we owe 
it to them to get to the bottom of this question. We owe them a truly 
independent investigation, conducted in the same way that our Armed 
Forces carry out their duties every day in Iraq, with honor and with 
integrity. I fear the process being started by the administration is 
neither, but it is not too late to establish a commission of which we 
can all be proud.
  I yield the floor.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Will the Senator be good enough to yield?
  Mr. DASCHLE. I am happy to yield to the Senator from Massachusetts.
  Mr. KENNEDY. First, I thank the Senator for an excellent statement.
  Earlier today the Armed Services Committee had meant to meet. We were 
going to have Secretary Rumsfeld up before the committee. I intended to 
ask him two or three questions on the issue of intelligence, but since 
the Senator is on his feet now, I am wondering if he would be willing 
to respond to a question or two and help clear this up in my mind.
  What we have now, as I understand it, is the intelligence agencies 
saying that they provided the intelligence to the administration and 
that they were not intimidated. I intended to ask the Secretary whether 
he was aware of the Defense Intelligence Agency's own intelligence 
report that stated--and I am quoting. This has been published. It was 
declassified and published in the news sources--this is the Defense 
Intelligence Agency:

       . . . there is no reliable information on whether Iraq is 
     producing and stockpiling chemical weapons, or where Iraq 
     has--or will--establish its chemical warfare agent production 

  That was in September of 2002. Yet a month later, just as Congress 
was about to vote, the National Intelligence Estimate stated very 
precisely that:

       Iraq probably has stocked at least 100 metric tons and 
     possibly as much as 500 metric tons of chemical weapon 
     agents--much of it added in the last year.

  I was just wondering, if I can raise this point, here we have the 
Defense Intense Intelligence Agency giving one report. Then, if we look 
at the State Department Bureau of Intelligence, this is what the State 
Department Bureau of Intelligence concluded:

       The activities we have detected do not . . . add up to a 
     compelling case that Iraq is currently pursuing what INR 
     would consider an integrated and comprehensive approach to 
     get nuclear weapons . . . INR considers the available 
     evidence inadequate to support such a judgment.

  The Department of State, Bureau of Intelligence.
  Mr. KYL. Could we have regular order?
  Mr. KENNEDY. Regular order. I believe I have the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator may yield for a question but not 
for a statement.
  Mr. KENNEDY. I am making the predicate. If the Senator from Arizona 
is not pleased with it, that is his problem.
  The third intelligence report was the Department of Energy disagreed 
that the famous tubes were for nuclear weapons. The State Department's 
Intelligence Bureau also concluded that the tubes were ``not intended 
for use in Iraq's nuclear weapons program.''
  Finally, Greg Thielmann, retired State Department official, who 
served as director of the Office of Strategic Proliferation and 
Military Affairs in the Bureau of Intelligence, said last July:

       Some of the fault lies with the performance of the 
     intelligence community, but most of it lies with the way 
     senior officials misused the information they are provided.

  He said:

       They surveyed the data, and picked out what they liked. The 
     whole thing was bizarre. The Secretary of Defense had this 
     huge Defense Intelligence Agency, and he went around it.

  I just ask, are these the kinds of questions that we hope an 
independent kind of commission might be helpful to resolve? When the 
administration's own Defense Intelligence Agency, the State Department 
agency, and the Energy Intelligence Agency came up with similar 
conclusions as Dr. Kay prior to the time the Senate voted on this 
issue, don't you think the American people are entitled to know what 
the facts are, not just the intelligence information made available but 
how it was used by the administration and by the President?
  Mr. DASCHLE. Mr. President, I appreciate the question, as well as the 
predicate offered by the distinguished Senator from Massachusetts.
  The answer is yes, I am troubled by one fact that is now undeniable. 
That fact is, we were given bad information, information that now is 
much clearer than it was 6 months or 12 months ago, information that 
many of our colleagues have used repeatedly on which to base decisions 
fundamental to their interpretation of circumstances and ultimately the 
vote they cast on the resolution committing this country to a course of 
  I was troubled by a report I read just this morning that there are 
many in the intelligence community who are becoming increasingly 
angered and frustrated that all of this responsibility has been put on 
their shoulders. The report by one intelligence officer was: ``We did 
our job. We reported the information. It isn't us.''
  My question is, If it is not the intelligence community, who is 
responsible? Why did we get bad information? Was it the collection and 
analysis or was it the use of that information once it was collected 
and analyzed? We do not know the answer to that today. But we do know 
our best opportunity for collecting the answers to the questions posed 
by the Senator from Massachusetts is an independent counsel.
  What does it say of the independence of those potential commissioners 
when someone is suggesting to them, we want you to take this job to 
investigate us; we want you to have the authority to investigate us, 
with the implication that the detrimental consequences of an adverse 
investigation could weigh heavily on the commission itself.
  I don't think there is any doubt about the need for independence, 
about the need to look at past precedent when we have established 
commissions of this kind. We need to know beyond a shadow of a doubt 
that this commission will have the opportunity to go wherever the facts 
lead them.
  The way the President and this administration are proposing this 
investigation be done flies in the face of past precedent, with that 
cloud that hangs over any investigation that could not be as open, 
honest, and ultimately successful as it needs to be.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Illinois.
  Mr. DURBIN. It is my understanding that under the previous unanimous 
consent I am recognized for 10 minutes.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator is correct.