Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 5, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

TENET SPEECH RECAP....George Tenet's speech today turned out to be a bit of a yawner. Basically, he says there's nothing wrong with the CIA and it pretty much got everything right. Here are his "provisional bottom lines" on five key areas:

My provisional bottom line on missiles: We were generally on target.

....My provisional bottom line today: We detected the development of prohibited and undeclared unmanned aerial vehicles. But the jury is still out on whether Iraq intended to use its newer, smaller unmanned aerial vehicle to deliver biological weapons.

....My provisional bottom line today: Saddam did not have a nuclear weapon, he still wanted one, and Iraq intended to reconstitute a nuclear program at some point.

....My provisional bottom line today: Iraq intended to develop biological weapons. Clearly, research and development work was under way that would have permitted a rapid shift to agent production if seed stocks were available. But we do not yet know if production took place. And just as clearly, we have not yet found biological weapons.

....My provisional bottom line today: Saddam had the intent and capability to quickly convert civilian industry to chemical weapons production. However, we have not yet found the weapons we expected.

Also: no one pressured us, we did have plenty of human intelligence, we're nowhere near 85% done, and we never said there was an imminent threat. What's more, our findings also relied on some reports from sources that other people said were trustworthy:

Several sensitive reports crossed my desk [in 2002] from two sources characterized by our foreign partners as established and reliable. The first from a source who had direct access to Saddam and his inner circle said Iraq was not in the possession of a nuclear weapon. However, Iraq was aggressively and covertly developing such a weapon.

....The same source said that Iraq was stockpiling chemical weapons and that equipment to produce insecticides under the oil-for-food program had been diverted to covert chemical weapons production.

....A stream of reporting from a different sensitive source with access to senior Iraqi officials said he believed production of chemical and biological weapons was taking place, that biological agents were easy to produce and hide, and that prohibited chemicals were also being produced at dual-use facilities.

As near as I can tell, Tenet admitted only one mistake: "we recently discovered that relevant analysts in the community missed the notice that identified a source that we had cited as providing information that in some cases was unreliable and in other cases fabricated."

And that's it. Everything else was good intel, so quite whining.

Kevin Drum 10:12 AM Permalink | Trackbacks

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