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Bob Graham: What I Knew Before the Invasion


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What I Knew Before the Invasion

By Bob Graham

Sunday, November 20, 2005; B07

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/18/AR2005111802397.html

In the past week President Bush has twice attacked Democrats for being hypocrites on the Iraq war. "[M]ore than 100 Democrats in the House and Senate, who had access to the same intelligence, voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power," he said.

The president's attacks are outrageous. Yes, more than 100 Democrats voted to authorize him to take the nation to war. Most of them, though, like their Republican colleagues, did so in the legitimate belief that the president and his administration were truthful in their statements that Saddam Hussein was a gathering menace -- that if Hussein was not disarmed, the smoking gun would become a mushroom cloud.

The president has undermined trust. No longer will the members of Congress be entitled to accept his veracity. Caveat emptor has become the word. Every member of Congress is on his or her own to determine the truth.

As chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence during the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, and the run-up to the Iraq war, I probably had as much access to the intelligence on which the war was predicated as any other member of Congress.

I, too, presumed the president was being truthful -- until a series of events undercut that confidence.

In February 2002, after a briefing on the status of the war in Afghanistan, the commanding officer, Gen. Tommy Franks, told me the war was being compromised as specialized personnel and equipment were being shifted from Afghanistan to prepare for the war in Iraq -- a war more than a year away. Even at this early date, the White House was signaling that the threat posed by Saddam Hussein was of such urgency that it had priority over the crushing of al Qaeda.

In the early fall of 2002, a joint House-Senate intelligence inquiry committee, which I co-chaired, was in the final stages of its investigation of what happened before Sept. 11. As the unclassified final report of the inquiry documented, several failures of intelligence contributed to the tragedy. But as of October 2002, 13 months later, the administration was resisting initiating any substantial action to understand, much less fix, those problems.

At a meeting of the Senate intelligence committee on Sept. 5, 2002, CIA Director George Tenet was asked what the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) provided as the rationale for a preemptive war in Iraq. An NIE is the product of the entire intelligence community, and its most comprehensive assessment. I was stunned when Tenet said that no NIE had been requested by the White House and none had been prepared. Invoking our rarely used senatorial authority, I directed the completion of an NIE.

Tenet objected, saying that his people were too committed to other assignments to analyze Saddam Hussein's capabilities and will to use chemical, biological and possibly nuclear weapons. We insisted, and three weeks later the community produced a classified NIE.

There were troubling aspects to this 90-page document. While slanted toward the conclusion that Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction stored or produced at 550 sites, it contained vigorous dissents on key parts of the information, especially by the departments of State and Energy. Particular skepticism was raised about aluminum tubes that were offered as evidence Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program. As to Hussein's will to use whatever weapons he might have, the estimate indicated he would not do so unless he was first attacked.

Under questioning, Tenet added that the information in the NIE had not been independently verified by an operative responsible to the United States. In fact, no such person was inside Iraq. Most of the alleged intelligence came from Iraqi exiles or third countries, all of which had an interest in the United States' removing Hussein, by force if necessary.

The American people needed to know these reservations, and I requested that an unclassified, public version of the NIE be prepared. On Oct. 4, Tenet presented a 25-page document titled "Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs." It represented an unqualified case that Hussein possessed them, avoided a discussion of whether he had the will to use them and omitted the dissenting opinions contained in the classified version. Its conclusions, such as "If Baghdad acquired sufficient weapons-grade fissile material from abroad, it could make a nuclear weapon within a year," underscored the White House's claim that exactly such material was being provided from Africa to Iraq.

From my advantaged position, I had earlier concluded that a war with Iraq would be a distraction from the successful and expeditious completion of our aims in Afghanistan. Now I had come to question whether the White House was telling the truth -- or even had an interest in knowing the truth.

On Oct. 11, I voted no on the resolution to give the president authority to go to war against Iraq. I was able to apply caveat emptor. Most of my colleagues could not.

The writer is a former Democratic senator from Florida. He is currently a fellow at Harvard University's Institute of Politics.

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Ok...so there is a question whether a congressman, the same that often leak information for political purposes, was witness to the same intelligence as the President.

Still I ask.... what about the intelligence of Britian, France, Germany, Russia, the UN, and other nations that believed Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Did Bush force them all to lie? :doh: The point is... alot of entities believed he had WMD and our intelligence apparatus, however flawed, thought so to. Someone again explain to me how this points out definitively how Bush lied to bring us to war?

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Ok...so there is a question whether a congressman, the same that often leak information for political purposes, was witness to the same intelligence as the President.

Still I ask.... what about the intelligence of Britian, France, Germany, Russia, the UN, and other nations that believed Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Did Bush force them all to lie? :doh: The point is... alot of entities believed he had WMD and our intelligence apparatus, however flawed, thought so to. Someone again explain to me how this points out definitively how Bush lied to bring us to war?

Sen. Graham never accuses Bush of lying in this piece, and to my knowledge he has never said anything like that.

He is simply responding to the attack, used by Cheney and other Republicans over the past week, that everyone had access to the same intelligence, so they should not be allowed to criticize the President. Graham is saying that not everyone had the same access, so it's an unfair attack. Some Senators and Congressmen did in fact rely on information that was filtered, so their votes were in fact cast with incomplete information.

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A very interesting piece. Whether or not people want to accept everything in it, it does provide good insight into how access to intelligence works.

It is a really interesting perspective ... he seems to imply that members of the Select Committee on Intelligence had more access than other Senators, which begs the question: how did the other members of the committee vote on the Iraq War Resolution?

Bob Graham (D), Chairman - Nay

Richard Shelby ®, Vice-Chairman - Yea

Evan Bayh (D) - Yea

Mike DeWine ® - Yea

Dick Durbin (D) - Nay

John Edwards (D) - Yea

Dianne Feinstein (D) - Yea

Orrin Hatch (D) - Yea

James Inhofe ® - Yea

Jon Kyl ® - Yea

Carl Levin (D) - Nay

Richard Lugar ® - Yea

Barbara Mikulski (D) - Nay

Pat Roberts ® - Yea

John Rockefeller (D) - Yea

Fred Thompson ® - Yea

Ron Wyden (D) - Nay

Tom Daschle (D), ex oficio - Yea

Trent Lott ®, ex oficio - Yea

...the question is whether any of those that voted Yea have been accusing Bush of cherry-picking intelligence or whatnot...

Edwards said he was wrong last week, taking responsibility rather than blaming Bush. I don't think any of the Republicans, Bayh, Feinstein, Rockefeller, or Daschle have been particularly outspoken against the President on this issue.

Harry Reid, Dick Durbin and Ted Kennedy have been the Senators most critical recently. Durbin is in Graham's shoes - he had Select Intelligence Committee access and he voted no. Kennedy was not on the committee and he voted no. I guess the person that Graham is trying to defend is Reid - someone who did not have access to the classified information (and has admitted he didn't even read the NIE), and voted yes. At the very least, you can't tell Harry Reid that he had access to the same information.

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Whether bush and admin purposely misled, was mislead, or a combination of the two is a matter of opinon at this point

I certainly think that anything is possible as many facts point in both directions

Personally I think its irrelevant anyways

maybe its the utilitarian in me

The question maybe we should ask is why he would mislead or misrepresent?

for oil money and lucrative contracts?

some might think this, but I seriously doubt that money alone drove his ambition

others, more informed, might say that it's his administrations neo-con agenda

ahh now theres an idea, take a look at this website, read thorougly please :)http://www.newamericancentury.org/

coincidence that the founding members contain alot of top bush admin names?

Try going directly to the statement of principles link in the top right

I think they overuse the word AMERICAN ("american leadership" "american interests" " american security") when GLOBAL could easily be substituted.

The principles I do mostly agree with, the americanization of them I dont.

The world will never accept american leadership only global leadership and not american values but universal democratic values.

But like they say america is the only country fully capable of accomplishing such goals

Do you agree even in part with their ideas? or not at all?

The true debate boils down to these arugments IMO

The first one strongly based on neo-con policy

the second based on the belief that we should not be in iraq because our intelligence was wrong about them being an immenent threat and now that we realized that mistake we should get out as quickly as possible

do you think we should be risking our neck and using all our resources trying to effect positive change in the world to assist future generations of peoples that might not even be american?

Or do you think we should mind our own buisness and not medle in others affairs unless their is imminent danger? (which sometimes can be to late)

all the rest if just filler imo :)

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You hit the nail on the head with PNAC.

Read what Wilkerson, Clarke, and others have and to say. There was an energy task force meeting in 01 before 9-11 where discussions on Iraq's oil fields took place. The leading theory is that the cabal wanted to divy up Iraq's oil and destroy OPEC by increasing oil production over and above OPECs quotas.

Here is a good article on the BBC about the meetings. One of the people present was interviewed by the BBC and disclosed information about the scheme to screw OPEC.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/4354269.stm

Here's an article from the American Conservative on The American Standards role in pushing the Iraq agenda

http://amconmag.com/2005/2005_11_21/article.html

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you say I hit the nail right on the head with PNAC and then go on to describe the "big oils" plans for divying up iraq

The article states that there was a battle between the two and that big oil "seems" to have one.

Scroll down the bottom and read the last paragraph its a quote it sums it up pretty well.

So did we invade iraq for oil or for pnac's goals in your eyes?

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