An inside peek at the secret combination that got us into this war

Originally published 5/27/07:

Jonathan Schwartz over at Tiny Revolution has a nice look at three separate sources showing that the CIA knew that they had to dig up the intelligence to fit the President’s policy of war with Iraq.  Enjoy.

“Holy Cripes

I’ve been looking through The Italian Letter by Peter Eiser and Knut Royce. There’s some amazing stuff in it about Alan Foley, the head of the CIA’s Weapons Intelligence Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Center (WINPAC). WINPAC led the CIA’s analysis of Iraq’s purported WMD, and so Foley is at the very center of what happened.

But what’s even more amazing is how little attention the material about Foley has gotten. The book came out several months ago, but according to Google, this is the first time the below sections have appeared online.

Here’s what Foley believed before the war (p. 125):

There were strong indications that Foley all along was toeing a line he did not believe. Several days after Bush’s State of the Union speech, Foley briefed student officers at the National Defense University at Fort McNair in Washington, DC. After the briefing, Melvin Goodman, who had retired from the CIA and was then on the university’s faculty, brought Foley into the secure communications area of the Fort McNair compound. Goodman thanked Foley for addressing the students and asked him what weapons of mass destruction he believed would be found after the invasion. “Not much, if anything,” Goodman recalled that Foley responded. Foley declined to be interviewed for this book.

So why, then, would WINPAC report that Iraq had WMD? Here’s the answer (p. 119):

One day in December 2002, Foley called his senior production managers to his office. He had a clear message for the men and women who controlled the output of the center’s analysts: “If the president wants to go to war, our job is to find the intelligence to allow him to do so.” The directive was not quite an order to cook the books, but it was a strong suggestion that cherry-picking and slanting not only would be tolerated, but might even be rewarded.

Interestingly, this event has appeared in other books, although not with Foley’s name attached. This is from Pretext for War by James Bamford:

…within a few months [after the September 11 attacks], for many [at the CIA] the morale once again began to drop through the floor as they began getting pressure to come up with Saddam Hussein’s fingerprints on 9/11 and Al Qaeda. One of those who felt the pressure was a DO case officer who spent years running agents overseas, but who had been reassigned to the unit charged with finding weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq… According to the official, the group never found any indications of WMD in Iraq. “Where I was working, I never saw anything—no one else there did either,” the person said.

Nevertheless, there was a great deal of pressure to find a reason to go to war with Iraq. And the pressure was not just subtle; it was blatant. At one point in January 2003, the person’s boss called a meeting and gave them their marching orders. “And he said, ‘You know what—if Bush wants to go to war, it’s your job to give him a reason to do so’… He said it at the weekly office meeting. And I just remember saying, ‘This is something that the American public, if they ever knew, would be outraged’…He said it to about fifty people. And it’s funny because everyone still talks about that — ‘Remember when [he] said that.'”

And this appears in Blowing My Cover: My Life as a CIA Spy by Lindsay Moran:

During my short tenure in Iraqi Operations, I met one woman who had covered Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program for more than a decade. She admitted to me, unequivocally, that the CIA had no definitive evidence whatsoever that Saddam Hussein’s regime possessed WMD, or that Iraq presented anything close to an imminent threat to the United States. Another CIA analyst, whose opinion I’d solicited about the connection between Al-Qa’ida and Iraq, looked at me almost shamefacedly, shrugged, and said, “They both have the letter q?” And a colleague who worked in the office covering Iraqi counterproliferation reported to me that her mealy-mouthed pen pusher of a boss had gathered together his minions and announced, “Let’s face it. The president wants us to go to war, and our job is to give him a reason to do it.”

Any serious congressional strategy to end this war would include nationally televised hearings about this and all the other lies that got us into Iraq. The seriousness of the Democrats can be judged by such hearings’ non-existence.”


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