Saturday, May 31, 2003

Tenet Tries to Defend Iraq Intelligence

WashPost -- The statement by Tenet was a rarity for a director of Central Intelligence, who normally does not react publicly to criticism about intelligence matters except during testimony before Congress. It underscored the ferment building within intelligence agencies because U.S. forces in Iraq so far have not uncovered any proscribed weapons.

Three complaints have been filed with the CIA ombudsman about the administration's possible politicization of intelligence on Iraq, an intelligence official said.

Tenet's statement came in response to the release on Thursday of a "memorandum" to President Bush posted on several Internet sites by a group of retired CIA and State Department intelligence analysts. The analysts said there is "growing mistrust and cynicism" among intelligence professionals over "intelligence cited by you and your chief advisers to justify the war against Iraq."

The group, which calls itself Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, said the failure to find weapons of mass destruction after six weeks of searching "suggests either that such weapons are simply not there or that those eventually found there will not be in sufficient quantity or capability to support your repeated claim that Iraq posed a grave threat to our country's security."

The group called on the president to allow United Nations inspectors to return to Iraq, saying, "If the U.S. doesn't make undisputed discoveries of forbidden weapons, the failure will feed already widespread skepticism abroad about the motives for going to war."

It added that intelligence in the past had been "warped for political purposes but never before has such warping been used in such a systematic way to mislead our elected representatives into voting to authorize launching a war."

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