Transcript: Senate Intelligence Committee Report Released
Weíve done a little bit of work on the number three guy in the Defense Department, Douglas Feith, part of his alleged efforts to run intelligence past the intelligence community altogether, his relationship with the INC and Chalabi, who was very much in favor with the administration wanting them to come on in. And was he running a private intelligence failure, which is not lawful.
As a result, the committeeís report fails to fully explain the environment of intense pressure in which the intelligence community officials were asked to render judgments on matters relating to Iraq when the most senior officials in the Bush administration had already forcefully and repeatedly stated their conclusions publicly.
ROCKEFELLER: It was clear to all of us in this room who were watching that, and to many others, that they had made up their mind that they were going to go to war. And I believe to this day, and I always have and Iíve said so publicly many times in regretting my vote, that there was a predetermination, even going back to 1998 in a letter to Bill Clinton, saying, "The time for diplomacy has ended and now is the time for the use of military force."
So the justification for the preemptive invasion of Iraq was: one, that Iraq had stockpiled weapons, chemical and biological; two, that they were actively pursuing a nuclear weapon; three, that Iraq might use its alliances with terrorist organizations, including Al Qaida, to use these weapons to strike at the United States.
And in one part of our report, I believe we used the word "even the use of this in the homeland," the United States.
Of the first two administration points, the case for invasion, the committee details, as Chairman Roberts has indicated, how these key pillars were not supported and should not have been there. The national intelligence estimate was given to us, at our request -- at the request of the Senate Intelligence Committee, about 10 days before the vote came. It was done in three weeks. It was thrown together. It was based upon fragmentary intelligence, ancient intelligence.
And then there was this enormous difference between the classified version, where all kinds of doubts and caveats were included, and then the white paper, which was the unclassified version, which all of a sudden everything moved in one direction toward, "Theyíve got them, theyíre ready to use them, and watch out."
ROCKEFELLER: I donít think that was an accident.
Let me just finish by saying, again, an emphasis on this relentless public campaign prior to the war, which repeatedly characterized the Iraqi weapons program in more ominous and threatening terms than any intelligence would have allowed. In short, we went to war in Iraq based on false claims.
So in conclusion, during a critical time in our nationís history, 18-month period spanning the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, to the invasion of Iraq on March 20th, 2003, the credibility of the intelligence community, which is the spear tip of all actions, and particularly under a doctrine of preemption, was significantly compromised.
The capable, independent, intelligence community is an essential piece of our national security. Pat Roberts described the incredible work of people doing dangerous work all over the world. If you make one mistake, youíre caught and on the front page. And if you do everything else right, nobody notices.
So the shaping of intelligence and analysis over this year and a half has called into question the basis for Americaís military action in Iraq, for some of these decisions to be made in the way they were, to put American men and women in harmís way, send them into combat, create a dangerous gap in the information the Congress and the American people desperately needed.
ROCKEFELLER: This cannot happen again.
QUESTION: Senator Rockefeller, you talked about -- you thought that there was some (OFF-MIKE) in terms of what was classified in the NIE intelligence brief (OFF-MIKE)
And maybe Pat Roberts can comment on this as well.
In a report thereís an extensive section talking about the lack of red teaming and double advocacy here. How do you square in the report and what weíve heard downstairs (OFF-MIKE) that there was not a (OFF-MIKE) of the intelligence (OFF-MIKE) versus the difference in the white paper and the classified version that was presented to the Senate prior to this?
ROCKEFELLER: Well, first of all, I want to make a very strong point, which Iíve made in the committee quite a lot. This is a community and a town and a group of all of us, which, when there is a difference of opinion, we immediately say "politics." And when you have a presidential election coming up, you say "politics" twice as quickly. You just make the assumption that legislators canít think, that nobody has, you know, independent views. Everybody is just guided by the fact that theyíre Republicans or Democrats.
I donít buy that. I think that there are honest policy differences. And in intelligence which is such a discreet world, honest policy differences are real. They are real from time to time between Pat and myself. And it doesnít have to mean that itís a matter of politics.
I can say that I wish we had gotten more cooperation from the administration and I think Pat Roberts would say that, too. But itís not political, itís a matter of policy. Itís a difference of policy.
So on the fact that the NIE changed so dramatically from its classified to its unclassified form and broke all in one direction toward a much more dangerous scenario, which is what, of course, what the American people got, I think, was highly significant.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) The report states -- the unanimous report states no political pressure.
ROBERTS: Yes, sir.
QUESTION: And you are now saying it was political pressure. Then why did you vote for the report?
ROCKEFELLER: Thatís me.
Because there are 511 pages in the report. And the vast amount of that report, which covered basically only the prewar intelligence, basically on weapons of mass destruction, was superb.
And we had major disagreements on pressure. And I felt that the definition of pressure was very narrowly drawn in the final report. And that is that, sort of, that if somebody came up to you and you were one of the analysts who had been working on WMD, and they said, "Did anybody tell you that you had to change your point of view?" and the answer was, "No," well that was the description of pressure.
Thatís not my description of pressure. Thatís a description of pressure. But another description of pressure is the total ambience of this cascade of ominous statements, which continued really up to the present, about what was going to happen or the relationship between Al Qaida and Iraq, Mohammed Atta and the rest of it.
ROCKEFELLER: So, to me, pressure also can be defined by what else is in our additional views. And that is that George Tenet indicated that he was approached by analysts from the CIA. Going to the directorís office? If youíve ever done that, itís, sort of, intimidating.
And they came to him and he said, to relieve the pressure, "Simply donít answer the question if there is no new information." But the key phrase there is "to relieve the pressure." He was agreeing, assenting to the fact that there was.
The ombudsman of the Central Intelligence Agency, whose job it is for people to come to with their complaints, a veteran of many years there, said that the hammering on analysts was greater than he had seen in his 32 years of service to the Central Intelligence Agency, and he was referring to pressure.
And the former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Robert Kerr (ph), had a group which did analysis of this within the CIA, and he also came up with the same conclusion, that the pressure was there, itís always internal to the analysts and it was external in the whole ambience, the whole sense of what the nation was moving toward, what the policy-makers were in fact moving toward, except that we couldnít discuss that in our report.
ROBERTS: Well, let me respond to that.
I hope to heck there was pressure by the policy-makers. You have to be forward-leaning. We just went through 9/11. We were very forward-leaning. There had been a long history in regards to Iraq and the war against Iran and the war, obviously, against Kuwait in í91, when we found out they were much further ahead in regards to their nuclear program.
ROBERTS: You know, you can define pressure any way you want. But I think the debate in the committee largely centered around whether or not there were repetitive questions.
And thatís a job of a policy-maker to ask repetitive questions. As a matter of fact, when they asked the repetitive questions, we got a better product in regards to the section in regards to terrorism. They were pretty reasonable about that and there were repetitive questions. There were not repetitive questions in regard to the WMD section and as a result, we got a product that was flawed.
I must say that in regards to all of the talk about the public statements by those in the administration, i.e., the policy-makers, making very declarative and positive comments, even aggressive comments, I know about that. Everybody read about that. But those of us in the Congress, some of which who are the most severe critics, made the same comments back in í98, í99, 2000.
I urge them to read their own comments in regards to the severity and the possibility of the fact that Iraq had WMD and that we had to use the military action. So I think it cuts both ways.
Read the report. I do not think there is any evidence of undue pressure on any analyst. Repeatedly, I asked as chairman in public and in the committee if anybody felt pressured, more especially in terms of politics, let me know. Only one individual ever raised his hand and it was about Cuba and it was a completely different kind of thing.
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