CIA Defends Intelligence Gathering on Iraq

The CIA Friday defended its handling of prewar intelligence on Iraq, which has reportedly come under criticism in a report being prepared by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, according to the New York Times (see GSN, Oct. 24).

A top-secret internal CIA review has found no evidence of poor work related to prewar Iraq intelligence, four senior intelligence officials said Friday.

“What it has shown us is that the judgments were not only sound, they were very sound, and backed up by more than one source,” one intelligence official said.

The officials also said the work of chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq David Kay would also validate the agency’s findings.

“We don’t think what we did was deficient, we don’t think it was sloppy and we’re waiting to see what David finds to see whether we got it right,” a senior official said.

In a public statement, CIA spokesman Bill Harlow said the Senate intelligence committee had not yet heard from senior intelligence officials.

“The committee has yet to take the opportunity to hear a comprehensive explanation of how and why we reached our conclusions,” Harlow said in the statement.

Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) said Friday that the committee would hear from CIA Director George Tenet and other senior intelligence officials before releasing its findings (Douglas Jehl, New York Times, Oct. 25).

Meanwhile, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, said Friday that Bush administration officials appeared to have bypassed U.S. intelligence agencies to gather their own information on Iraq.

Some Bush administration officials appeared to have collected their own intelligence on Iraq “without the knowledge of the Central Intelligence Agency, the State Department or anybody else,” Rockefeller said.

Congressional sources said Rockefeller was referring to the U.S. Defense Department’s Office of Special Plans, which was in charge of creating Pentagon policies in connection with the war on Iraq, according to the Los Angeles Times. Several Democrats on the intelligence committee also said that they are likely to produce a separate report on the administration’s handling of prewar intelligence (Greg Miller, Los Angeles Times, Oct. 25).

October 27, 2003
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The CIA Friday defended its handling of prewar intelligence on Iraq, which has reportedly come under criticism in a report being prepared by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, according to the New York Times (see GSN, Oct. 24).