Page 2 of 2   <      

Newly Released Data Undercut Prewar Claims

Bush also said in his October 2002 speech: "We know that Iraq and al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade." Levin said the DIA's declassified February 2002 report points out that "Saddam's regime is intensely secular and wary of Islamic revolutionary movements. Moreover, Baghdad is unlikely to provide assistance to a group it cannot control."

"Just imagine," Levin said, "the public impact of that DIA conclusion if it had been disclosed at the time. It surely could have made a difference in the congressional vote authorizing the war."

Levin also pointed out that before the war, the CIA had its own reservations about al-Libi, although the agency did not note them in its publicly distributed unclassified statements. In those, Levin said, it described the source -- without naming al-Libi -- as "credible." In the classified version, however, the CIA added that the source "was not in a position to know if any training had taken place."

Levin said: "Imagine if the president or the others had added that the source of the information might have been making it up for his questioners or wasn't in a position to know. . . . Would he have delivered that in his speech?"

Levin said he first obtained the DIA document as part of his continuing investigation as an Armed Services panel member into intelligence activities that took place within the office of Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Feith's Office of Special Plans undertook a review and analyses of prewar al Qaeda intelligence.

Levin said Friday that he was not aware whether the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, on which he also serves, has the document. That panel did not have the DIA document in July 2004 when it completed its Phase 1 report on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs.

The committee is now conducting its second-phase investigation of the use of Iraq intelligence, one part of which is to compare prewar public statements by officials and members of Congress with the information known at the time.

Levin took part in a news conference Friday with two other intelligence committee Democrats in which they raised questions about whether the panel had received all the classified material on Iraq, including the February 2002 DIA publication, that Bush administration officials had when they made their public statements.

At that news conference, Levin urged that the process be slowed down to make sure the committee had gathered all the intelligence material.


<       2

© 2005 The Washington Post Company