Tags: DoD | Boutique | Intel | Team | Defends | Record

DoD Boutique Intel Team Defends Record

Thursday, 05 June 2003 12:00 AM

“This suggestion that we said to them, ‘This is what we’re looking for; go find it,’ is precisely the inaccuracy that we are here to rebut,” Feith said. “I know of nobody who pressured anybody.”

Feith added that he wanted to set the record straight about his intelligence team and its connection to the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans, an 18-member unit responsible for planning the Defense Department’s Iraq policy. Feith explained that his intelligence team and the special plans office were separate bodies with different assignments, adding that the intelligence team was disbanded last August and the planning office was established two months later.

However, other defense officials told the Times that the intelligence team remained active last fall, inputting to the Special Plans office.

According to Feith, his intelligence team sought to examine terrorist connections around the world, not solely with Iraq – using specialized computers and software to scan and organize materials gleaned variously from the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and other intelligence agencies. “Its job was to review this intelligence to help digest it for me and other policy makers, to help us develop Defense Department strategy for the war on terrorism.”

Feith denied that the larger planning office was a pipeline for intelligence reports from the Iraqi National Congress to the White House.

One of the media reports contradicting Feith’s version was a recent New Yorker magazine article that reported that Special Plans was expressly formed in order to find evidence that Saddam Hussein had close ties to Al Qaeda, and that Iraq had an enormous arsenal of chemical, biological, and possibly even nuclear weapons that could potentially threaten the U.S.

The article suggested that this “politicizing” of the intelligence function was not a good thing and also charged that Iraqi defectors favored by Special Plans were providing plenty of compelling material to reporters in the United States and Europe -- accounts of advances in weapons of mass destruction and Iraqi links to terrorist groups.

In the resulting credibility tug-of-war, the CIA disputed these accounts, pointing out misstatements and inconsistencies in I.N.C. defector versions.

But Rumsfeld and his colleagues fought back, judging, according to the New Yorker, that the CIA was unable to perceive the reality of the situation in Iraq. “The agency was out to disprove linkage between Iraq and terrorism,” a Pentagon adviser told the New Yorker. “That’s what drove them. If you’ve ever worked with intelligence data, you can see the ingrained views at CIA that color the way it sees data.” The goal of Special Plans, he said, was “to put the data under the microscope to reveal what the intelligence community can’t see.”

Whatever the dynamic was between Feith’s small intelligence unit, Special Plans, the CIA, the White House and ultimate policy, some strong positions evolved:

“We know that the regime has produced thousand of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, and VX nerve agents,” President Bush said last fall. “If the Iraqi regime is able to produce, buy or steal an amount of uranium a little larger than a single softball, it could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year.”

In January deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz was ominously warning the Council on Foreign Relations that the U.S. must move swiftly to prevent Saddam from unleashing weapons of mass destruction. “We don’t have a lot of time. Time is running out,” he said.

According to the Times report, some defense officials admitted they were baffled or angered by Feith’s remarks with one citing, “There was a lot of doublespeak out there.”

In-house Pentagon reaction aside, some members of Congress are getting more vocal about forcing the administration to bring forth the hard intelligence that was behind such statements as the President’s and the deputy defense secretary’s above.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, has promised to introduce a resolution asking House committees to demand documents from the Bush administration. “This administration made many assertions, for which they have yet to produce any evidence, about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction,” said the presidential candidate. “What evidence did this administration have to put the lives of American service men and women on the line?”

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"This suggestion that we said to them, 'This is what we're looking for; go find it,' is precisely the inaccuracy that we are here to rebut," Feith said. "I know of nobody who pressured anybody." Feith added that he wanted to set the record straight about his intelligence...
Thursday, 05 June 2003 12:00 AM
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