What is often ignored about the intelligence leading to war in Iraq is the fact that it wasn’t just the US that signed off on our findings. Germany, France, Great Britain and Israel all independently confirmed the findings of the US. In the US itself, it wasn’t just the CIA that made determinations about Iraq’s WMD capability–the State Dept. also confirmed their findings. AND it wasn’t just Intel. agencies under the Bush administration that saw Iraq as an ongoing WMD threat–officials, intel committee chairs and media all viewed Iraq as a huge problem left over from the Clinton presidency–one which Clinton had largely ignored and left for Bush to solve. It is much easier to do nothing and appease Islami-Fascists than it is to openly confront them.
And now, the next installment from NORMAN PODHORETZ
So, once again, did the British, the French and the Germans, all of whom signed on in advance to Secretary of State Colin Powell’s reading of the satellite photos he presented to the U.N. in the period leading up to the invasion. Mr. Powell himself and his chief of staff, Lawrence Wilkerson, now feel that this speech was the low point of his tenure as secretary of state. But Mr. Wilkerson (in the process of a vicious attack on the president, the vice president, and the secretary of defense for getting us into Iraq) is forced to acknowledge that the Bush administration did not lack for company in interpreting the available evidence as it did:
“I can’t tell you why the French, the Germans, the Brits and us thought that most of the material, if not all of it, that we presented at the U.N. on 5 February 2003 was the truth. I can’t. I’ve wrestled with it. [But] when you see a satellite photograph of all the signs of the chemical-weapons ASP–Ammunition Supply Point–with chemical weapons, and you match all those signs with your matrix on what should show a chemical ASP, and they’re there, you have to conclude that it’s a chemical ASP, especially when you see the next satellite photograph which shows the UN inspectors wheeling in their white vehicles with black markings on them to that same ASP, and everything is changed, everything is clean. . . . But George [Tenet] was convinced, John McLaughlin [Tenet’s deputy] was convinced, that what we were presented [for Powell’s UN speech] was accurate.”
Going on to shoot down a widespread impression, Mr. Wilkerson informs us that even the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, known as INR, was convinced:
“People say, well, INR dissented. That’s a bunch of bull. INR dissented that the nuclear program was up and running. That’s all INR dissented on. They were right there with the chems and the bios.”
In explaining its dissent on Iraq’s nuclear program, the INR had, as stated in the NIE of 2002, expressed doubt about:
“Iraq’s efforts to acquire aluminum tubes [which are] central to the argument that Baghdad is reconstituting its nuclear-weapons program. . . . INR is not persuaded that the tubes in question are intended for use as centrifuge rotors . . . in Iraq’s nuclear-weapons program.”
But, according to Wilkerson:
“The French came in in the middle of my deliberations at the CIA and said, we have just spun aluminum tubes, and by God, we did it to this rpm, et cetera, et cetera, and it was all, you know, proof positive that the aluminum tubes were not for mortar casings or artillery casings, they were for centrifuges. Otherwise, why would you have such exquisite instruments?”
In short, and whether or not it included the secret heart of Hans Blix, “the consensus of the intelligence community,” as Mr. Wilkerson puts it, “was overwhelming” in the period leading up to the invasion of Iraq that Saddam definitely had an arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, and that he was also in all probability well on the way to rebuilding the nuclear capability that the Israelis had damaged by bombing the Osirak reactor in 1981.
Additional confirmation of this latter point comes from Kenneth Pollack, who served in the National Security Council under Clinton. “In the late spring of 2002,” Pollack has written:
“I participated in a Washington meeting about Iraqi WMD. Those present included nearly twenty former inspectors from the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM), the force established in 1991 to oversee the elimination of WMD in Iraq. One of the senior people put a question to the group: did anyone in the room doubt that Iraq was currently operating a secret centrifuge plant? No one did. Three people added that they believed Iraq was also operating a secret calutron plant (a facility for separating uranium isotopes).”
No wonder, then, that another conclusion the NIE of 2002 reached with “high confidence” was that “Iraq could make a nuclear weapon in months to a year once it acquires sufficient weapons-grade fissile material.” (Hard as it is to believe, let alone to reconcile with his general position, Joseph C. Wilson IV, in a speech he delivered three months after the invasion at the Education for Peace in Iraq Center, offhandedly made the following remark: “I remain of the view that we will find biological and chemical weapons and we may well find something that indicates that Saddam’s regime maintained an interest in nuclear weapons.”)