Congressional Record: February 23, 2004 (Senate)
Page S1436-S1437                    

                    Flawed Intelligence Assessments

  Mr. LEVIN. Madam President, there is now confirmation from the 
administration's own leading weapons inspector that the intelligence 
community produced greatly flawed assessments about Iraq's weapons of 
mass destruction in the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq. It 
is my opinion that flawed intelligence and the administration's 
exaggerations concerning Iraq's weapons of mass destruction resulted 
from an effort to make the threat appear more imminent and the case for 
military action against Iraq appear more urgent than they were.
  However, regardless of whether one thought the threat was imminent or 
not to proceed as unilaterally as we did, our intelligence was so far 
off the mark and the descriptions of that intelligence by the 
administration were even further off the mark that for the sake of the 
future security of this Nation, there needs to be an independent 
assessment not just of the intelligence but also the characterization 
by the administration of that intelligence.
  Today, I want to raise a related issue: how the Director of Central 
Intelligence, George Tenet, misled the American people before the war 
about the status of our sharing of U.S. intelligence information with 
the United Nations inspectors.
  Director Tenet, after 12 months of indefensible stonewalling, 
recently relented and declassified the material that I requested, which 
makes clear that his public testimony before the Congress on the extent 
to which the United States shared intelligence with the United Nations 
on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs was false.
  Prior to the war, the CIA identified 550 sites in Iraq as possibly 
having weapons of mass destruction or prohibited WMD materials or 
equipment. They were called "suspect sites." Madam President, 150 of 
those sites were so-called "top suspect" sites where the CIA believed 
it would be more likely to find such items. The 150 top suspect sites 
were, in turn, divided into three categories: High priority, medium 
priority, and low priority.
  At two public hearings shortly before the war on February 11 and 
February 12, 2003, I pressed Director Tenet on the issue of how many 
suspect WMD sites were shared with the United Nations. On February 12, 
Director Tenet said the following:

       When the inspections began, we drew up a list of suspect 
     sites which we believe may have a continuing association with 
     Iraq's WMD programs. The list is dynamic. It changes 
     according to available intelligence or other information that 
     we receive.
       Of this set number of suspect sites, we identified a 
     specific number as being highest interest, highest value, or 
     moderate value because of recent activities suggesting 
     ongoing WMD association or other intelligence information 
     that we received.

  And here is his bottom line:

       As I said yesterday, we have briefed all of these high 
     value and moderate value sites to UNMOVIC and the IAEA.

  Mr. Tenet did not say "some;" he did not say "most;" he said 
"all." We have briefed "all" of these high value and moderate value 
sites to the U.N.
  I told Director Tenet at the time in two public hearings that he was 
wrong and that classified numbers told a different story. On March 6, 
2003, Director Tenet again stated in writing that:

       We have now provided detailed information on all of the 
     high value and moderate value sites to UNMOVIC and the IAEA.

  National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice made the same 
representation in a letter to me on March 6, 2003, in which she said:

       United Nations inspectors have been briefed on every high 
     or medium priority weapons of mass destruction, missile, and 
     UAV-related site the U.S. intelligence community has 

  On January 20, 2004, the CIA, after a year of resistance, finally 
declassified the number of "high and medium priority 'top suspect' WMD 
sites" where the CIA shared information with the U.N. inspectors prior 
to the war in Iraq.
  In doing so, they finally acknowledged that 21 of the 105 high and 
medium priority top suspect sites on the CIA list were not shared with 
the United Nations before the war. So the record is now clear that 
Director Tenet twice gave false information on this matter to the 
public and to the Congress shortly before the war.
  The January 20, 2004, letter from the CIA states their position. The 
position of the CIA is that it provided the United Nations "with the 
intelligence that we judged would be fruitful in their search." 
History will, and a thorough investigation would, determine the 
accuracy of that statement. But the public can now judge the accuracy 
of Director Tenet's public statements before the war that all high and 
medium priority top suspect sites were shared with the United Nations. 
All such sites were not shared and Mr. Tenet's repeated statements were 
  Last February, Director Tenet could have answered honestly and said: 
We have not given the U.N. inspectors all the high and medium priority 
top suspect sites and this is why, Senator.
  Instead, he chose a different path, one of misstating the facts. I 
can only speculate as to Director Tenet's motive. If he had answered 
honestly and said that there were 21 high and medium priority top 
suspect sites that we had not yet shared with the United Nations, it 
would have put an obstacle in the path of the administration's move to 
end U.N. inspections and proceed to war. It would have been more 
difficult for the administration to proceed to war without first having 
shared with the U.N. our intelligence on all high and medium priority 
top suspect WMD sites and it would have reinforced widely held public 
and international sentiment that we should allow the U.N. to complete 
their inspections before going to war.
  In other words, honest answers by Director Tenet might have 
undermined the false sense of urgency for proceeding to war and could 
have contributed to delay, neither of which fit the administration's 
policy goals. For the last year, I have attempted to have declassified 
the number of high and medium priority top suspect sites that the U.S. 
did not share with the United Nations. The CIA stonewalled doing that 
for no reason that I can think of except that the facts are 
embarrassing to them. Surely, that is no reason to withhold information 
from the American people and to give inaccurate information repeatedly 
to Congress in public testimony. We rely on our intelligence agencies 
to give us the facts, not to give us the spin on the facts.
  The accuracy and objectivity of intelligence should never be tainted 
or slanted to support a particular policy. What is badly needed and 
what is lacking so far is candor about how we were so far off in the 
assessments of Iraq's possession of WMD. The lack of candor is one of 
the many reasons an independent commission should be appointed by 
Congress, not just by the President, to look at not just how the 
intelligence came to be so flawed but

[[Page S1437]]

how that flawed intelligence came to be further exaggerated by the 
administration in order to support its decision to initiate military 
  One small part of this picture is this recent letter from the CIA 
that finally makes clear the truth. The CIA did not share all of the 
top suspect WMD sites in Iraq that Director Tenet said twice publicly 
before the war that it had shared with U.N. inspectors. It is more 
evidence of the shaping of intelligence to fit the administration's 
policy objectives.
  I ask unanimous consent that the letter from the CIA that I have 
referred to on this matter be printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                                  Central Intelligence Agency,

                                 Washington, DC, January 20, 2004.
     Hon. Carl Levin,
     Committee on Armed Services,
     U.S. Senate,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Senator Levin: I am responding to your letters of 23 
     October 2003 and 8 January 2004 regarding declassification of 
     specific information concerning the Intelligence Community's 
     (IC's) sharing of information on Iraqi suspect weapons of 
     mass destruction (WMD) sites with the United Nations (UN) 
       I want to begin by ensuring that there is a mutual 
     understanding of what has been declassified thus far with 
     respect to Iraqi suspect WMD site numbers and the sharing of 
     this information with the UN inspectors.
       In our 23 May 2003 letter, we provided the number of 
     approximate Iraqi suspect WMD sites identified by Central 
     Intelligence Agency, 550; and, the number of suspect sites 
     where inspectors were more likely to find something than at 
     other sites, 150.
       In our 11 July 2003 letter, we provided the number of 
     suspect WMD site packages provided to the UN inspectors, 67.
       In our 9 and 13 May briefings to the SSCI staff, we 
     explained that this number represented the number of site 
     packages shared with the UN inspectors at the IC initiative. 
     The 67 number does not include site packages provided 
     pursuant to UN inspectors' requests,
       Your most recent letters concern three specific requests:
       The number of high and medium priority sites on the IC's 
     150-site top suspect site list. Answer: High: 37; Medium: 68.
       The number of high and medium priority sites where the IC 
     shared information with the UN, including briefing packages. 
     Answer: High: 33; Medium: 51.
       The number of high and medium priority sites where the IC 
     shared briefing packages with the UN. Answer: High: 21; 
     Medium: 30.
       The 21 high and 30 medium site packages provided to the UN 
     inspectors represent site packages provided at the IC's 
     initiative and pursuant to UN inspectors' requests. The 
     number of high and medium site packages provided to the UN 
     inspectors solely at the IC's initiative are 20 and 25, 
       These numbers have been declassified. However, in order to 
     ensure that the numbers are accurately characterized, it is 
     important to reiterate what has been previously provided in 
     earlier correspondence to you regarding the suspect WMD site 
     information shared with the UN inspectors. I specifically 
     call your attention to the Director of Central Intelligence's 
     11 July 2003 letter, signed by the Deputy Director of Central 
     Intelligence, which states:
       ". . . CIA provided UNMOVIC with the intelligence that we 
     judged would be fruitful in their search for prohibited 
     material and activities in Iraq. We did not have and we never 
     claimed to have, smoking-gun information that would lead the 
     inspectors to a quick find. We selected the best sites we had 
     that we judged would have the best chance of finding 
     something. It is important to remember that we had given the 
     UN a vast amount of data in the 10-plus years we cooperated 
     with them on inspections, including data on many of the sites 
     long suspected of containing illicit activity. Thus, when 
     inspections resumed last year, we wanted to focus our effort 
     on giving the UN new data that we had not told them 
     previously. We started by considering about 150 sites that 
     seemed promising--we further refined that list because many 
     of these sites were already known to the UN inspectors, had 
     been the subject of previous discussions by CIA and those 
     organizations, and on which we had no new information. By the 
     time inspections stopped, we had developed site packages for 
     67 sites. These included the sites on which we had the best 
     intelligence--on which we had pertinent and possible 
     `actionable' information. We would not have helped the UN 
     inspectors by giving them large volumes of data they already 
     had. The UN relied on us to prioritize the information rather 
     than simply to give them everything we had on every possible 
     site in Iraq."
       We ask that the numbers and text be used in tandem when 
     discussing Iraqi WMD suspect sites and site packages provided 
     to the UN inspectors.
       I believe that with this response all your requests for 
     declassification of Iraqi suspect site numbers have been 
                                             Stanley M. Moskowitz,
                                Director of Congressional Affairs.

  Mr. LEVIN. I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. BUNNING. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.