Congressional Record: March 2, 2004 (Senate)
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                           IRAQ INTELLIGENCE

  Mr. LEVIN. Mr. President, the question of whether or not the 
intelligence was flawed which was used so forcefully by the 
administration prior to going to war as the reason for going to war is 
a question which is going to consume the time of this body and a number 
of our committees for some time to come. It is a critically important 
question as to whether or not the intelligence was flawed, not just in 
terms of the accountability--which is so important if mistakes were 
made, if exaggerations were undertaken in order to advance the decision 
to go to war--but also in terms of the future security of this Nation.
  This country went to war, we were told, because Iraq had weapons of 
mass destruction. That was the reason that was given over and over 
again by the administration. Whether or not there were other reasons, 
and there surely were, for that decision, which could be argued as a 
basis for the decision, the facts are that the American people were 
told it was the presence in Iraq of weapons of mass destruction which 
was the basis for attacking that country.
  When a decision is made to go to war based on intelligence, it is a 
fateful decision. It has ramifications and impacts way beyond the 
current months and years. If the intelligence is as flawed as this 
intelligence was, we should find out why.
  Whether people are glad we went to war or are not glad we went to 
war, whether history will prove we should have waited until we had 
greater support through the United Nations in order to avoid the kind 
of aftermath which we have seen, or not--we don't know what history is 
going to show in that regard--but regardless of the arguments back and 
forth as to the timing of it, the way in which it was handled, the 
failure to galvanize the international community so we had a broad 
array of countries with us, including Muslim nations so we would not be 
there as a Western occupying power with other Western nations after the 
military success; whether or not there was adequate planning for the 
aftermath, and I think it is obvious that there was not adequate 
planning, but regardless of what position one takes on all of those 
issues, it is incumbent upon us to find out how in Heaven's name the 
intelligence could be so far off.
  How could we have 120 top suspect sites for the presence of weapons 
of mass destruction that were high-level to medium-level sites, where 
there was confidence that there were weapons of mass destruction either 
being stored or produced, and we batted zero for 120? How could we be 
so far off?
  How is it possible that the CIA could tell us, as they did in their 
assessments, that there were chemical weapons and biological weapons 
and that a nuclear program was being undertaken again when, in fact, 
that apparently is not the case? How is it possible that intelligence 
can be as flawed as is this intelligence?
  Again, regardless of what the arguments are on any side or any issue, 
I don't think any of us should be in the position of arguing that it is 
irrelevant to the future security of this Nation whether or not the 
intelligence upon which the decision to go to war was based is 
important. It is critically important.
  Does North Korea have nuclear weapons or doesn't it have nuclear 
weapons? Should we put some credibility in the intelligence community's 
assessment of that? Where is Iran along the continuum of obtaining 
nuclear weapons? What are their intentions? Should we put confidence in 
the intelligence community's assessment of that?
  Whether or not we place confidence or make decisions based upon the 
intelligence community's assessment is critically important. The lives 
of young men and women, perhaps the life of this Nation, could be 
dependent upon intelligence which is being assessed by the intelligence 
community. Life and death decisions are being made by the President of 
the United States based on decisions and assessments and appraisals of 
the intelligence community. When it is as wildly off as this 
intelligence community's assessments apparently were, then it seems to 
me we better find out for the future health of this country, not just 
in terms of trying to assess the accountability for past assessments.
  Something happened to the intelligence after 9/11. The pre-2002 
intelligence assessments relative to nuclear programs and biological 
programs and chemical programs were different from the October 2002 
National Intelligence Estimate. Some of this has been set forth in the 
Carnegie Endowment's recent report. There are so many examples of where 
the intelligence shifted on these critical issues after 9/11.
  A few examples: On the reconstitution of the nuclear program after 
1998, the pre-2002 intelligence assessment was that Iraq had probably 
not continued their research and development program relative to 
reconstituting a nuclear program after 1998. Yet in October 2002, the 
intelligence community said, yes, it has restarted its nuclear program 
after the United Nations left in 1998. What happened between the pre-
2002 intelligence assessment and the post-9/11 assessment?

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  What about enriching uranium for use in nuclear weapons? Prior to 
2002, the assessment was that Baghdad may be attempting to acquire 
materials that could be used to reconstitute a nuclear weapons program. 
But after 9/11, in the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, we 
have, yes, Iraq has imported aluminum tubes and high-strength magnets. 
The Department of Energy's disagreement with this conclusion was set 
forth, but the assessment of the intelligence community shifted after 
  Whether they attempted to purchase uranium from abroad, the same kind 
of shift in the intelligence assessment, there were no reports 
mentioning any attempts to acquire uranium prior to that 2002 
assessment, but in 2002, October, suddenly the National Intelligence 
Assessment says Iraq has been trying to procure uranium ore and yellow 
cake. Again, disagreement from the Department of State, but that was 
the assessment of the intelligence community, and on and on. We have 
this kind of change that occurred in the intelligence assessments.
  What is the explanation for that? What happened? There is no 
evidence, as the President has mentioned; there is no evidence that 
Saddam Hussein was part of the attack of 9/11, so what happened that 
caused the intelligence community to shift its assessment of chemical, 
biological, and nuclear programs after the 9/11 attack on us? That is 
something which we must find out.
  We must make a determination--hopefully someday there will be an 
outside commission which will make a comprehensive review of this whole 
matter--but, in any event, we must do the best we can through the 
Intelligence Committee.
  I am making an effort, the Armed Services Committee, my staff, to 
look into these issues, particularly as they relate to the question of 
how intelligence affected the operations and the planning relative to 
our military effort in Iraq.
  But we must make that decision. We have an obligation. This is not a 
partisan issue and it makes no difference to me whether this assessment 
is finished before the election or after the election. It must be made 
for the health of this Nation, as to how our intelligence community, 
No. 1, could be so totally wrong relative to the presence of weapons of 
mass destruction on Iraqi soil immediately prior to the war; and, No. 
2, how and why did the intelligence community shift its assessments so 
significantly after 9/11 from the assessments that occurred before 9/
  There is another aspect of this which relates to the way in which 
intelligence was used or exaggerated by the policymakers. Here we have 
another issue--an issue which is going to be looked at by the 
Intelligence Committee at least as far as the use of the intelligence 
is concerned up to the point where the war began. There are some recent 
statements that I think also require explanation.
  I have tried a number of times to find out how the Vice President 
could have, about a month ago, made a statement relative to the vans 
that were found in Iraq, that those vans were part of a mobile 
biological weapons program. For the life of me, I do not understand how 
the Vice President can make that statement when Dr. Kay who has looked 
at the van has said that there is a consensus in the intelligence 
community--and I am now reading from Dr. Kay's answer to my question in 
the Armed Services Committee--that the consensus opinion is that those 
two trailers were not intended for the production of biological 
  How is it that the Vice President of the United States at about the 
same time that statement was made before the Armed Services Committee 
by the chief weapons inspector--that some trailers which were found in 
Iraq are unrelated to a biological weapons program--would say the 
opposite in a very public forum? What is the basis for the Vice 
President's statement? I tried to find out. In fact, I wrote the Vice 
President the other day asking him: What is the basis for your 
  We should know. The American people should know when the Vice 
President says something as significant as that, that these particular 
vans which we have now gotten in our possession are, in fact, 
biological weapons laboratories. In fact, what the Vice President said 
on January 22 on NPR was:

       I would deem that--

  Here he is referring to those two vans--

     conclusive evidence that Saddam did in fact have programs for 
     weapons of mass destruction.

  Again, this is so totally opposite from what our chief weapons 
inspector has decided and said the consensus opinion is--that surely 
the American public is entitled to an explanation from the Vice 
  What is the basis for his statement of January 22 on national radio? 
What is the basis, Mr. Vice President, for your statement? The American 
public is entitled to know that. This is not some assistant secretary 
of some agency sitting in the bowels of the Pentagon or the bowels of 
some other building. This is the Vice President of the United States 
who is saying on national radio that we believe, in fact, that those 
semitrailers were part of the biological weapons program, that they 
were biological weapons vans. There is no explanation forthcoming, just 
sort of silence from the Office of the Vice President. We are entitled 
to more than that.
  One possibility which the CIA's Director suggested when I asked him 
the question was that, well, maybe the Vice President was using old 
information when he said that. If the Vice President of the United 
States is making statements of significance based on old information, 
first, it seems to me he ought to say so and then say, Too bad that 
happened, I will make sure it doesn't happen again.
  But it is also kind of discouraging, if that is true. There are daily 
briefings which I assume he is a part of--at least weekly briefings on 
these critical issues. We have a chief weapons inspector who says those 
vans, according to the consensus opinion, are not part of and were not 
part of the production of biological weapons.
  But what all this is part of is kind of what is going to be phase 2 
of the Intelligence Committee's investigation which is the use of 
intelligence by the policymakers. Here the statements of our top 
leadership go beyond the intelligence in a number of ways. They are 
much more certain than the intelligence communities' assessments were.
  For instance, the Vice President, on August 2002, said the following:

       There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of 
     mass destruction. There is no doubt that he is amassing them 
     to use against our friends and against our allies and against 

  We have this additional aspect which is now being looked into by the 
Intelligence Committee and again by my staff on the Armed Services 
Committee as to how the administration could take the intelligence that 
was given and then turn those less certain findings into certainties.
  Our friend from Arizona, Senator Kyl, made the point earlier tonight 
that there is a lot of uncertainty in intelligence, and he surely is 
right. But wow. It sure doesn't sound that way coming from the 
administration prior to the war.
  Vice President Cheney told Tim Russert: We know with absolute 
certainty that Saddam is using his procurement system to acquire the 
equipment he needs in order to enrich uranium to build a nuclear 
  Secretary of State Colin Powell--and this will be my last comment--
said at the U.N.: There can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has 
biological weapons.
  The list of these statements where there is no doubt and there is 
absolute certainty that the administration says exists about these 
programs goes beyond what the intelligence communities' assessments 
were. It is those statements of absolute certainty which, it seems to 
me, require an explanation as to what was the basis of those statements 
of absolute certainty and there being no doubt, particularly in light 
of the fact Senator Kyl pointed out that intelligence is, indeed, very 
uncertain and should be treated that way.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senator from 
Rhode Island is recognized for 30 minutes.