[Congressional Record: June 5, 2008 (Senate)]
[Page S5133-S5135]

                        PREWAR IRAQ INTELLIGENCE

  Mr. ROCKEFELLER. Mr. President, I am pleased to report to the Senate 
that the Senate Intelligence Committee has completed its review of 
prewar intelligence related to Iraq. Today the committee filed with the 
Senate and released to the public the two final reports of what has 
been called phase 2 of the review. One of these reports examines the 
public statements of senior policymakers prior to the war and compares 
those statements to the intelligence that was available to those senior 
policymakers at the time they made those statements. The second report 
looks at the intelligence activities of individuals working for the 
Office of the Under Secretary of Defense Policy.
  The first of these reports, report on public statements, has 
obviously been the most controversial aspect of the committee's work on 
prewar intelligence. That was inevitable. Much has been said and much 
has been written since the beginning of the war about how we got into 
it. In the end, the committee did conclude that the administration 
repeatedly presented intelligence as fact, when in reality it was 
unsubstantiated and often contradicted what they were saying, or even 
was nonexistent.
  The committee's July 2004 report found that the prewar assessments on

[[Page S5134]]

intelligence related to weapons of mass destruction were clearly 
flawed. There was a 511-page report and it decimated the whole concept 
of weapons of mass destruction being there. It turned out most of them 
were left over from the Iran-Iraq war. Nuclear scientists were kept 
around, but they had nothing to do. People began to draw conclusions. 
They understood, at some of the highest levels, that this intelligence 
was there, but they ignored it. The report we are releasing today 
indicates that many of the public statements of the Bush administration 
were, in fact, accurate and substantiated by underlying intelligence, 
even though that intelligence itself was flawed. So we tried to be 
fair. No one, however, should interpret these findings as vindication 
of how the administration was using intelligence to sell to the 
American people and to the Congress the war in Iraq.
  This report documents significant instances in which the 
administration went beyond what the intelligence community knew--well 
beyond what the intelligence committee knew or believed, most notably 
on the false assertion that Iraq and al-Qaida had an operational 
relationship, a partnership, and the manipulative attempt to suggest, 
inaccurately, that Iraq had any complicity in the attacks of September 
11--shockingly wrong statements which were made and made and made.
  Many of them obviously were made prior to the State of the Union 
Address in an attempt to prepare American public opinion. But, on the 
other hand, many of them continued well afterwards and even until 
recently. The committee also found that when administration officials 
were making statements related to weapons of mass destruction, they 
often spoke in declarative and unequivocal terms that went well beyond 
the confidence levels reflected in the intelligence community's 
intelligence assessments and products.
  They omitted caveats. In other words, if the Department of Energy and 
INR in the Department of State, their intelligence wing, disagreed--
those were omitted. Anything that didn't agree was omitted, it was 
ignored. Dissenting views by intelligence agencies were ignored and did 
not acknowledge significant gaps in what we knew. In other words, they 
had a message they were driving and they stopped at nothing to do that.
  In short, administration officials failed to accurately portray what 
was known, what was not known, and what was suspected about Iraq and 
the threat it represented to our national security. When the Nation is 
weighing the decision to go to war, they deserve the complete and 
unvarnished truth, and they did not get it in the buildup to the war in 
  Additionally, the committee found instances where public statements 
selectively used intelligence information which supported a particular 
policy viewpoint; that is, public statements made by high officials, 
the highest officials, and at the same time they completely ignored 
contradictory information that weakened the position which they 
declared to be the truth. While on its face the statement might have 
been accurate, it nevertheless presented a slanted picture to those who 
were unaware of the hidden intelligence. Intelligence is complex. It is 
an art, not just a science. You have to establish all aspects of what 
goes into an intelligence product before you can make any kind of a 
declaration or decision.
  In fact, the committee's report cites several areas in which the 
administration's public statements were not supported by the 
intelligence, and I very specifically wish to state them now. No. 1, 
statements and implications by the President and the Secretary of 
State, suggesting Iraq and al-Qaida had a partnership or Iraq had 
provided al-Qaida with weapons training were not substantiated by the 
intelligence. No. 2, statements by the President and the Vice 
President, indicating Saddam Hussein was prepared to give weapons of 
mass destruction to terrorist groups for attacks against the United 
States were contradicted by available intelligence information. No. 3, 
statements by President Bush and Vice President Cheney regarding the 
postwar situation in Iraq, in terms of the political security, the 
economics, et cetera, did not reflect the concerns and uncertainties 
expressed in the intelligence products. The results have been there for 
us to see. No. 4, statements by the President and Vice President, prior 
to the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iraq's 
chemical weapons production capability and activities, did not reflect 
the intelligence community's uncertainties as to whether such 
production was ongoing. No. 5, the Secretary of Defense statement that 
the Iraqi Government operated underground WMD--weapons of mass 
destruction--facilities that were not vulnerable to conventional 
airstrikes because they were underground, so deeply buried--that was 
not substantiated by available intelligence information. No. 6, the 
intelligence community did not confirm that Mohamed Atta met an Iraqi 
intelligence officer in Prague in 2001, as the Vice President has 
repeatedly, repeatedly, repeatedly claimed--and may do so again today. 
That is terribly important. There was all kinds of information which so 
totally contradicts that it should be embarrassing, but it was not, and 
they went ahead and used it. No connection between Mohamed Atta and 
Iraqi intelligence.
  In addition, the administration's misuse of intelligence prior to the 
war was aided by selective declassification of intelligence reporting. 
The executive branch exercises the prerogative to classify information 
in order to protect national security. Unlike Congress, it can 
declassify information unilaterally, and it can do so with great ease. 
The administration manipulated and exploited this declassification 
authority in the lead-up to the war, and disclosed intelligence at a 
time and in a manner of its choosing, knowing others attempting to 
disclose additional details that might provide balance or improved 
accuracy would be prevented from so doing under the threat of criminal 
prosecution. So they could declassify what they wanted. Nobody else 
could do anything.
  This unlevel playing field allowed senior officials to disclose and 
discuss sensitive intelligence reports when they supported the 
administration's policy objectives and keep out of the discourse 
information that did not support those objectives.
  In preparing a report on public statements, the committee 
concentrated on those statements that were central to the debate over 
the decision to go to war in 2002-2003. We identified five major policy 
speeches made by President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Secretary 
of State Colin Powell during this period as the most significant 
expressions of how the Bush administration communicated intelligence 
judgments to the American people, to the Congress, and to the 
international community. Additional statements made by senior 
administration officials during this same timeframe, containing 
assertions not included in the major policy speeches, were examined as 
well and they are part of our report.

  To the point: The statements we examined were made by the individuals 
involved in the decision to go to war and in convincing the American 
public to support that decision. The committee will be criticized for 
not examining statements made by Members of Congress. A bipartisan 
majority of the committee--bipartisan--agreed these statements do not 
carry the same weight of authority as statements made by the President 
and others in the executive branch. It was the President and his senior 
advisers who were pushing the policy of invasion, not the Congress. In 
addition, Members of Congress did not have--do not have--the same ready 
access to intelligence as the senior executive branch policymakers. We 
do not see raw intelligence data. We do not get PDEs. We do not receive 
the daily briefing and were not briefed every morning by the Nation's 
senior intelligence officers.
  It is important to note we did not receive the October NIE, National 
Intelligence Estimate, critical to the vote, until 3 days before the 
Senate was expected to vote. Was that initiated by the administration? 
No. It was initiated, requested and finally agreed to and then rushed 
up very quickly because Senator Bob Graham was chairman of the 
Intelligence Committee at that time, and he asked for it.
  As I said, the truth of how intelligence was used or misused is not 
black and white. Supporters from both sides will point to specific 
findings in this report to bolster their arguments. I consider that to 
be evidence that the

[[Page S5135]]

committee's findings are fair and objective. Our job was to compare 
statements to intelligence and render a narrow judgment as to whether 
the statement was substantiated. In those instances where a statement 
is not substantiated by the intelligence, the committee renders no 
judgment as to why. All we were interested in was the facts.
  The second report we are releasing today deals with operations of the 
Office of Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. It is a very important 
report. A February 2007 report from the Department of Defense inspector 
general addresses many of the issues the committee had originally 
intended to examine relating to this office. That report concluded that 
the Policy Office of the Pentagon had inappropriately disseminated an 
alternative intelligence analysis, drawing a link between Iraq and al-
Qaida terrorists--again what the administration wanted--who carried out 
the attacks on September 11. This hypothesis has been thoroughly 
examined by the intelligence community and no link was found. That, 
however, did not stop this office from concocting its own intelligence 
analysis and presenting it to senior policymakers. The committee first 
uncovered this attempt by DOD policy officials to shape and politicize 
intelligence in order to bolster the administration's policy in our 
July 2004 report and the inspector general's review. Both of these were 
  The committee's own investigation of the policy office's activities 
had been abruptly terminated by the former chairman of the Intelligence 
Committee in July of 2004 because the inspector general's report 
thoroughly covered the issues of alternative analysis when the 
committee investigation was restarted in 2007, it focused on 
clandestine meetings between DOD policy officials and Iranians in Rome 
and Paris in 2001 and 2003.
  These meetings were facilitated by Manucher Ghorbanifar, an Iranian 
exile and intelligence fabricator implicated in the 1986 Iran Contra 
scandal. During these meetings, intelligence was collected, but it was 
not shared with the intelligence community. It went right around the 
intelligence community, including the CIA. They knew nothing about it. 
George Tenet indicated there was no possible way he knew anything about 
  The committee's findings paint a disturbing picture of Pentagon 
policy officials who were distrustful of the intelligence community and 
undertook the collection of sensitive intelligence without coordinating 
their activities. It was a rogue operation. It went to high levels in 
the administration; it went right to the National Security Council, 
totally bypassing all other intelligence agencies. It is infuriating 
and not the way intelligence should be handled at all.
  The actions of DOD officials to blindly disregard the red flags over 
the role played by Mr. Ghorbanifar in these meetings and to wall off 
the intelligence community from its activities and the information it 
obtained were improper and demonstrated a fundamental disdain for the 
intelligence community's role in vetting sensitive sources.
  The committee's 2004 report presented evidence that the DOD policy 
office attempted to shape the CIA's terrorism analysis in late 2002, 
and when it failed, prepared an alternative intelligence analysis 
attacking the CIA for not embracing a link between Iraq and the 9/11 
terrorist attacks. So the CIA and the intelligence community were 
trying to do what they could, and these people were just end-running 
them because that is what the White House wanted to see. And then, you 
know, it was a disgrace, an embarrassment to the Nation. The Department 
of Defense inspector general found himself that these actions were 
highly inappropriate.
  Our most recent report shows that these rogue actions of this office 
were not isolated. The committee's body of work on Iraq-related 
intelligence--a series of six reports issued over a 4-year period--
demonstrate why congressional oversight is essential in evaluating 
America's intelligence collection and analytical activities.
  During the course of its investigation, the committee found that the 
October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's alleged weapons 
of mass destruction was based on stale, fragmentary, and speculative 
intelligence reports and replete with unsupported judgments. Troubling 
incidents were reported in which internal dissent and warnings about 
the veracity of intelligence on Iraq were ignored in the rush to get to 
  The committee's investigation also revealed how administration 
officials applied pressure on intelligence analysts prior to the war 
for them to support links between Iraq and the terrorists responsible 
for the attacks of September 11, none of which existed.
  Our investigation detailed how the Iraqi National Congress and Ahmed 
Chalabi attempted to influence the U.S. policy on Iraq by providing 
false information through defectors directed at convincing the United 
States at the higher levels that Iraq possessed weapons of mass 
destruction and had links to terrorists and how this false information 
was embraced despite warnings and fabrication.
  The committee's investigation also documented for the public how the 
administration ignored the prewar judgments of the intelligence 
community that the invasion would destabilize security in Iraq and 
provide al-Qaida with an opportunity to exploit the situation and 
increase attacks against U.S. forces during and after the war. After 5 
years and the loss of over 4,000 American lives, these ignored 
judgments were tragically prescient.
  Overall, the findings and conclusions of the committee's Iraq 
investigation were an important catalyst in bringing about subsequent 
legislative and administrative reforms of the intelligence community so 
that these mistakes will never be repeated again, hopefully.
  In conclusion, it has been a long, hard road for the committee to get 
to this point. There have been and continue to be a lot of finger-
pointing and accusations of partisanship. It is important to remember 
that this undertaking was a unanimous decision--phase 1 and phase 2--
was a unanimous decision of the committee in February of 2004. That it 
took such a long time to do is another subject. It is also important to 
remember that the committee adopted these two reports, both reports, by 
a vote of 10 to 5--in other words, bipartisan.
  In undertaking these additional lines of inquiry, the committee acted 
to tell a complete story of how intelligence was not only collected and 
analyzed prior to the Iraq invasions but how it was publicly used in 
authoritative statements made by the highest officials in the Bush 
administration in furtherance of its policy to overthrow Saddam Hussein 
and more.
  I believe these reports will help answer some of the many lingering 
questions surrounding the Nation's misguided decision to launch the war 
in Iraq.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Cardin). The Senator from Pennsylvania.