Saturday, May 26, 2007

Report of the Select Committee on Intelligence on Prewar Assessments About Postwar Iraq

The Senate Intelligence Committee late yesterday afternoon released their review of the intelligence community's performance before the Iraq invasion in predicting the post-war ramifications of deposing Saddam Hussein.

We recently discussed the same studies (see They Can't Say They Weren't Warned). Basically, the White House was told beforehand that we could expect all the bad things that have since happened in occupied Iraq.

Report of the Select Committee on Intelligence on Prewar Assessments About Postwar Iraq (229 page pdf).

The report declassifies and publishes in full two January 2003 National Intelligence Council (NIC) Intelligence Community Assessments (ICA): "Regional Consequences of Regime Change in Iraq" and "Principal Challenges in Post-Saddam Iraq."

There are a sizable number of excised passages in the original papers dealing with other countries in the region, the deletions being most noticeable when the subject turns to Iran's reaction to events in Iraq.

Much information is presented about the political environment in Iraq during Saddam's reign, with the conclusion that the political culture there is far from fertile ground in which to transplant democracy.

Other analysis wasn't always real accurate. Oil going up to $40 a barrel is a negative possibility foreseen in case of a cutoff of Iraqi supplies, especially -- according to the paper -- in combination with instability in Venezuela. But we are told that $15 barrels would be back as soon as the respective situations returned to normal. However, maybe the analysts were right about the basic economics, which would naturally lead to the suspicion that oil company skullduggery may be responsible for the dissonance.

In July 2002, the intelligence community held a simulation of how the post-Saddam political reconstruction might look. A long-term requirement for large numbers of U.S. forces to remain in country was envisioned. The Iraqis were seen to be focused on short-term political advantage over their rivals rather than focusing on the big picture. And the U.N. was seen as not acquiescing to U.S. plans for Iraqi political development.

After the two big ICAs (which are NIE caliber papers), there is also an Overview of Other Intelligence Assessments on Postwar Iraq, listing and summarizing various products of individual intelligence community agencies.

A CIA assessment from August 2002 entitled The Perfect Storm: Planning For Negative Consequences of Invading Iraq summed up in one handy package what could still be in store for Iraq. Intended as a worst case scenario, here are some highlights: "anarchy and territorial breakup in Iraq; instability in key Arab states; a surge of global terrorism and deepening Islamic antipathy towards the United States; major oil supply disruptions; and severe strains in the Atlantic alliance." Also, "Al Qaeda operatives take advantage of a destabilized Iraq to establish secure safe havens from which they can continue their operations", and "Iran works to install a regime friendly to ... Iranian policies." The Perfect Storm also warns of "Afghanistan tipping into civil strife as U.N. and other coalition forces are unable or unwilling to replace American military resources."

The distribution list of the two primary studies is included, attesting to the fact that this material was sent all over town.

This lengthy report tells us that a lot of effort was expended examining the likelihood that a U.S. invasion of Iraq would turn out to be detrimental to U.S. interests. The issue of whether Iraq was actually a threat was not the subject matter of these Phase II (Senate Intelligence Committee investigative terminology, as opposed to the DOD usage of Phase IV to refer to the postwar scenario) studies.

The Kerr Study Group's second report (a 2004 CIA evaluation) noted vis-a-vis these earlier studies, "Intelligence projections in this area [analysis of post-Saddam Iraq], however, although largely accurate, had little or no impact on policy deliberation."

A more damning indictment of how we got to this national nightmare would be hard to conceive.


Blogger DrewL said...

And now, some four-plus years later, nearly 3,500 American servicepeople have paid with their lives and some 20,000 additional servicepeople have paid with their bodies, minds and souls for the utter lack of policy deliberation surrounding these analyses. I think it shows just what kind of "support" these people have shown for our troops. None. In fact, to them, our military is considered to be nothing but a pawn, to be used and abused in the pursuit of personal and political spoils. How incredibly despicable.

Impeachment is a far too courteous - not to mention easy - path for this president and his enablers. And anything less than impeachment would be a national disgrace of historic proportions. Period.

5/26/2007 11:41 PM  
Blogger Effwit said...


The Bush administration was simply so hell-bent to attack Iraq that it was willing to ignore all these prescient warnings.

A shameful performance at best. A criminal conspiracy in all likelihood.

And yes, impeachment would be a pretty courteous approach to malfeasence of this magnitude.

There was an essay a few days ago that made a good argument about why the American people are not eager to impeach the president.

Why Bush Hasn't Been Impeached
by Gary Kamiya

Why was Clinton, who was never as unpopular as Bush, impeached for lying about sex, while Bush faces no sanction for the far more serious offense of lying about war?(...)

... there's a deeper reason why the popular impeachment movement has never taken off — and it has to do not with Bush but with the American people. Bush's warmongering spoke to something deep in our national psyche. The emotional force behind America's support for the Iraq war, the molten core of an angry, resentful patriotism, is still too hot for Congress, the media and even many Americans who oppose the war, to confront directly. It's a national myth. It's John Wayne. To impeach Bush would force us to directly confront our national core of violent self-righteousness — come to terms with it, understand it and reject it. And we're not ready to do that.

The truth is that Bush's high crimes and misdemeanors, far from being too small, are too great. What has saved Bush is the fact that his lies were, literally, a matter of life and death. They were about war. And they were sanctified by 9/11. Bush tapped into a deep American strain of fearful, reflexive bellicosity, which Congress and the media went along with for a long time and which has remained largely unexamined to this day. Congress, the media and most of the American people have yet to turn decisively against Bush because to do so would be to turn against some part of themselves. This doesn't mean we support Bush, simply that at some dim, half-conscious level we're too confused — not least by our own complicity — to work up the cold, final anger we'd need to go through impeachment. ...

5/27/2007 12:23 PM  
Blogger DrewL said...

"Our national core of violent self-righteousness." I like that. It fits. Sadly. We're able to see and criticize the flaws of others...i.e. Clinton. Yet, we are unable to see and criticize our own flaws, which for many of us are wrapped as one with the flaws displayed by Bush and company. We are held hostage by the belief that we would be impeaching ourselves. And self-incrimination is a very bitter pill to swallow.

On another plane, I think our elected representatives are unwilling - maybe unable - to do what is necessary to hold Bush accountable. They are afraid of being branded "traitors", "terrorist sympathizers", and worse. The Bush-Cheney-Rove fear-mongering attack machine would chew them to bits and - perhaps - effectively destroy their political careers. Or, at least, that's their belief. Essentially, the brutish forces responsible for the lies and the deceit have, for all intents and purposes, cowed their dissenters into submissiveness. And, by extension, they have cleared a path that almost ensures a lack of accountability. They've gotten away with it.

What a sad state of affairs if we as a nation allow such nefarious activity to go unaccounted and unpunished. What does it say about our society? Nothing flattering, that's for sure.

5/27/2007 11:10 PM  
Blogger Effwit said...


The spinelessness of our elected officials will be later held up to the light of history, where their present-day fears about the political vulnerabilities of being called names will pale in significance to the more important factor of having not been courageous enough to do the right thing.

Most will be thus harshly judged.

5/28/2007 6:41 AM  

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