Bad Service: Intelligence Service as a Farce
[This short news article is translated from the Gerrman in: der Spiegel 44/2003, October 27, 2003.]
In Washington the CIA secret service and the White House are in a bitter trench war over responsibility for the false prognosis about Saddam Hussein's alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. The Senate secret service committee that presented its report in the week of October 27, 2003 on the prehistory of the Iraq campaign concluded that the CIA astonishingly relied on evidentiary proofs and only a few serious sources in assessing the situation. The committee questioned more than a hundred members of the service who gathered and evaluated information on Saddam's weapon arsenal and ties to terrorist groups. "The secret service did a bad service to the government." So the committee chairperson Pat Roberts summarized the report that took president George W. Bush out of the line of fire. The tenor of the investigation was not surprising since the republicans are in the majority in this group. However the US president felt the international consequences of his war at the Madrid donors' conference for rebuilding Iraq at the end of last week.
The CIA resists unequivocal blame or responsibility by carefully disseminating indiscretions about the course of events. The favored addressant was obviously the journalist Seymour Hirsch, famous for his disclosures about the 1968 My-Lai massacre in Vietnam. He described in detail in the "New Yorker" how the Pentagon and Vice-president Richard Cheney claimed a monopoly on analyzing and assessing the IraqiI danger. The hardliners in the government relied on defectors, above all Ahmed Tschalabi, exiles who today play a prominent role in the Iraqi governing council. Deviating or differentiating information, particularly the falsified references to alleged Iraqi uranium dealings with west African Niger were systematically ignored. In the meantime CIA director Gedorge Tenet is the scapegoat for Bush critics and Bush defenders. Either he badly advised the president or didn't protect his service from incursions of the Pentagon and the White House.