Senate Report Blasts Intelligence Agencies' Flaws
Moreover, he said, the report shows that "they were also unreasonable and largely unsupported by the available intelligence."
Asked if he believed Congress would have authorized the use of force against Iraq had it known the weakness of the intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, Roberts said, "I do not know." He said he would have voted for the war in Iraq on humanitarian grounds, but that it would have been a different kind of war. He said it would have been more similar to the U.S. interventions in Kosovo and Bosnia in the 1990s -- an apparent reference to the fact that U.S. ground troops were not deployed in either of those conflicts.
"I think it would have been argued differently," he said. "I think perhaps the battle plan would have been different."
Sen. John D. "Jay" Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va), the committee's vice chairman, said categorically that Congress would have rejected going to war in Iraq if not for the faulty intelligence.
Roberts told the news conference that, among other findings, "the committee concluded that the intelligence community was suffering from . . . a collective group-think." He said this caused the intelligence community "to interpret ambiguous elements . . . as conclusive evidence of the existence of WMD [weapons of mass destruction] programs." But the group-think also extended to U.S. allies, the United Nations and other countries, he said.
"This was a global intelligence failure," Roberts said.
He said the committee found the CIA riddled by "a broken corporate culture and poor management," but he insisted that political pressure from the Bush administration did not produce the faulty assessments.
"In the end, what the president and Congress used to send the country to war was provided by the intelligence community, and that information was flawed," Roberts said. "This report cries out for reform."
Rockefeller called the assessments of Iraq before the 2003 war "one of the most devastating intelligence failures in the history of the nation."
He said, "We in Congress would not have authorized that war, with 75 votes, if we knew what we know now." While the government "didn't connect the dots" in analyzing clues before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, he said, "in Iraq we were even more culpable, because the dots themselves never existed."
The intelligence failures detailed in the report will affect U.S. national security for generations to come, Rockefeller said.
"Our credibility is diminished," he said. "Our standing in the world has never been lower. We have fostered a deep hatred of Americans in the Muslim world, and that will grow. As a direct consequence, our nation is more vulnerable today than ever before."
In the news conference, Roberts and Rockefeller displayed the partisan differences that have surfaced over the issue of political pressure on the CIA, a subject that Rockefeller said had produced "major disagreements" on the committee. He said he felt "that the definition of pressure was very narrowly drawn in the final report" and that statements by Tenet and other CIA officials indicated that such pressure existed.
Roberts said there was pressure from policy-makers to be "forward-leaning" and come up with information. But he said, "I do not think there is any evidence of undue pressure on any analysts" with regard to assessments of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
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