Friday, February 09, 2007

Check the stove, intel's burning

A Pentagon official who was a prime architect of Bush administration policies that led to the Iraq war presented policymakers with allegations of links between Iraq and Al Qaeda that did not accurately reflect the views of U.S. intelligence agencies, according to a Defense Department investigation disclosed Thursday by a senior Senate Democrat.
The report concluded that the official's actions were inappropriate, Sen.Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said.
The report by the Pentagon's inspector general examined the activities of Douglas J. Feith, an influential undersecretary to former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld during the months leading up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. An unclassified summary of the report will be released today. Its findings lend credence to charges by White House critics that Feith, who has since left the department, was out of line when he sought to discredit analyses by CIA intelligence officials that discounted alleged ties between Al Qaeda and then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

The above is from Julian E. Barnes' "Pentagon aide's prewar work faulted: A Defense report says the ex-official alleged links between Al Qaeda and Iraq that didn't reflect intelligence" (Los Angeles Times). For some, it may seem late in the day to be noting the obvious; however, the fact remains that a number of people continue to believe the lies and continue to deny that the intel was cooked. This is one example of how it was and it's also pertinent as a case against Iran is built by the administration with sleight of hand and innuendo. On the same topic, Martha notes Walter Pincus and R. Jeffrey Smith's "Official's Key Report On Iraq Is Faulted" (Washington Post):

The report was requested in fall 2005 by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), then chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Although the committee and a number of official inquiries had criticized the administration's prewar intelligence, Democratic senators, led by Levin, demanded further investigation of Feith's operation.
"The bottom line is that intelligence relating to the Iraq-al-Qaeda relationship was manipulated by high-ranking officials in the Department of Defense to support the administration's decision to invade Iraq," Levin said yesterday. "The inspector general's report is a devastating condemnation of inappropriate activities in the DOD policy office that helped take this nation to war."
The summary document confirmed a range of accusations that Levin had leveled against Feith's office, alleging inaccurate work.
Feith's office, it said, drew on "both reliable and unreliable" intelligence reports in 2002 to produce a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq "that was much stronger than that assessed by the IC [Intelligence Community] and more in accord with the policy views of senior officials in the Administration."
It stated that the office produced intelligence assessments "inconsistent" with the U.S. intelligence community consensus, calling those actions "inappropriate" because the assessments purported to be "intelligence products" but were far more conclusive than the consensus view.

Turning to the topic of Ehren Watada, whose court-martial this week ended in a mistrial on Wednesday, Megan notes Bob Egelko's "Officer to fight against retrial" (San Francisco Chronicle):

The lawyer for an officer whose court-martial for refusing deployment to Iraq was abruptly halted this week says the Army's planned retrial of his client would violate the constitutional ban on double jeopardy.
Because 1st Lt.
Ehren Watada neither caused nor consented to the mistrial that an Army judge declared Wednesday, the charges against him must be dismissed, attorney Eric Seitz said. Those charges were punishable by up to four years in prison.
"I don't think the judge understands, and I don't think the Army realizes that this case cannot be retried,'' Seitz said in an interview after the trial at Fort Lewis, Wash., was halted. He said the ban on double jeopardy -- trying someone twice for the same crime -- applies equally to military and civilian courts.

Now I realize it must be embarrassing to be Eugene Fidell (quoted later in the article), having predicted what would happen and having the predictions be so far off the mark. However, there's come a time when you're offering analysis and a time when you're offering opinion. Fidell crossed the line between the two last week and comments made indicated this wasn't just analysis but also opinion (he doesn't care for Watada's stand -- to put it mildly). Having demonstrated that he has at least a bit of subjective in his "analysis," it's really past time that the press stops running to him on this case. He is not objective and, of course, he wasn't correct in his analysis/predictions.

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