Is rejecting intelligence on Russian hacking from different agencies poor judgement given they were inaccurate about presence of WMDs in …

Is rejecting intelligence on Russian hacking from different agencies poor judgement given they were … by Tony Garcia

Answer by Tony Garcia:

I cannot answer your question without first correcting a misperception inherent in your question. There was no consensus among analysts of intelligence agencies with regard to the presence of WMDs in Iraq. In fact, the intelligence extant presented conflicting accounts.

Saddam Hussein’s intelligence chief had been a source reporting to the British that Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction.

Iraq’s Director of Intelligence Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti had been passing on sensitive intelligence to the MI6 for more than a year before the U.S invasion. In Jordan, Habbush told MI6 officer Michael Shipster that Saddam had ended his nuclear program in 1991 and his biological weapons program in 1996.

The head of MI6, Richard Dearlove, flew to Washington to present details of the Habbush report to Tenet, who then briefed National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. CIA later informed the British that the Bush administration rejected this, and was not interested in keeping the Habbush channel open.

Tyler Drumheller, CIA’s Chief of Clandestine Operations for Europe from 2001 until 2005, recounts in his book On the Brink that Saddam’s foreign minister Naji Sadri was passing on information to an official of a European government in early autumn 2002 indicating that hints of a WMD program were false, used to impress foreign enemies.

CIA Director George Tenet briefed President Bush on Sabri’s intelligence, but Bush rejected it out of hand as “what Saddam wanted him to think.”

Further evidence of the Bush administration’s rejection of contraindicative evidence was included in my answer to a previous question, How are Trump's attacks on US intelligence agencies impacting national security? I’ve recounted this below:

On September 9, 2002, a classified Department of Defense report containing an assessment of WMD’s in Iraq landed on the desk of Air Force General Richard Myers, the Joints Chiefs of Staff director for intelligence. It came with a note from Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that read, “Please take a look at this material as to what we don’t know about WMD. It is big.”

The report had, in fact, been prepared by Gen. Myers and his staff, and its assessment was blunt: “We’ve struggled to estimate the unknowns… We range from 0% to about 75% knowledge on various aspects of their program.” The urgent tone in Rumsfeld’s note indicated how seriously the report undermined the Bush administration’s efforts to go to war with Iraq.

According to multiple sources at the State Department, the eight-page report was never shared with key members of the Bush administration, such as then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, or top officials at CIA. Instead, this powerful counternarrative to the Bush administration’s invasion argument simply disappeared.

CIA’s reliance on Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, known by the Defense Intelligence Agency cryptonym "Curveball," proved to be a fatal breakdown in protocol—reliance on a sole intelligence source without further corroboration. Curveball ultimately admitted he fabricated the intelligence in order to bring down Saddam Husein’s regime. This error, however, could have been mitigated if the DoD’s own analysis had been shared amongst all the analysts and policymakers.

Getting back to your question, in hindsight, DCI Tenet can be viewed as betraying CIA’s primary mission of providing objective analysis. Instead, he choseg to serve the interests of the Bush administration in preparing the way for war with Iraq.

The Intelligence Product is a collaborative effort. To be effective, finished intelligence cannot be neglected simply because it’s analysis collides with the biases and proposed actions by the policymakers. One can only imagine the overwhelming foolishness and perfidy of a foreign policy that not only dismisses or hides relevant intelligence data, but ignores it entirely.

The fact-checking website Politifact says avers that Hillary Clinton was correct when she stated that 17 federal intelligence agencies concluded Russia was behind the hacking. I suggest that you read this account in the New York times and come to your own conclusions regarding the intelligence agencies: Log In – New York Times

Is rejecting intelligence on Russian hacking from different agencies poor judgement given they were inaccurate about presence of WMDs in …

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