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The Ongoing Kerfuffle Regarding the IG’s Report February 15, 2007

Posted by nukemhill in WoT.
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There has, of course, been the the ongoing story about how the Inspector General basically took Douglas Feith to task for inappropriately challenging the Intelligence Community’s take on potential ties between Saddam and terrorist groups. The Washington Post got lots of mud on its face last week because it attributed some disparaging quotes to the IG, when in fact they came from Senator Carl Levin (D) several years ago. Needless to say, the WaPo had to do a mea culpa over that.

In the meantime, there has been some discussion about the actual content of the IG’s report. Imagine that. Over at PowerLine, they have a brief analysis of the report, and the DoD Under Secretary’s response to a draft version of the report. Their take on it is, as is their fashion, understated. Nonetheless, it is quite to the point:

The purpose of the DoD project was to re-examine the agencies’ raw intelligence on the contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda “absent an a priori assumption that secular Baathists and Islamic extremists would never cooperate.” The Under Secretary’s comments reveal how closed-minded the CIA was on this topic, and how important it was to bring diverse perspectives to bear. Consider this anecdote:

Sometime in early 2002, in the course of her work, [a DoD analyst] came across a finished 1998 CIA report on Iraq’s [redacted]. The report mentioned that Usama bin Laden had requested and received certain training from an Iraqi [redacted] service. On her own initiative, she requested and received through CIA channels the underlying information on which the item was based, consisting of two Memo Dissems, and subsequently obtained additional CIA reports from DIA and CIA on the issue of Iraq and al-Qaida.*** She recommended that the [Joint Intelligence Task Force] publish the [intelligence community] reporting data “so that it would be available to the entire [intelligence community] because reports published previously did not contain this important data” and that, without it, “analysis of the subject would be incomplete and inaccurate in the future.” ***

The analyst then called the J-2’s senior analyst and again recommended that the [intelligence community] reporting information be published to the entire [intelligence community]. The J-2 analyst responded that “putting it out there would be playing into the hands of people like Wolfowitz,” that the information “was old” and “only a tid-bit,” asked how did she “know that the information was true,” made a comment about trying to support “some agenda of people in the building,” and bucked the issue of publication back to the JITF chief. The JITF chief took no further action on the recommendation to publish the information, as far as we know.

This is the highly professional, objective attitude of the intelligence agencies whom the Inspector General considered it “improper” to question.

Both the IG’s report, and the Under Secretary’s response appear to be well worth the read.

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