Paul Pillar wrote in the upcoming March & April 2006 issue of Foreign Affairs that President George W Bush misused intelligence information Pillar gathered in order to invade Iraq in March 2003. The former CIA operative also said the United States was alone on claiming weapons of mass destruction existed in Iraq, contrary to what the White House has said.
President Bush's administration was already set on invading Iraq, and they "used intelligence --not to inform decision-making-- but to justify a decision already made," Pillar wrote. He said President Bush went to war without requesting intelligence assessments on any aspect in Iraq.
Policy solutions, Pillar wrote, indicated that the White House's decision to topple Saddam Hussein were driven by other factors, and not weapons of mass destruction, "namely, the desire to shake up the sclerotic power structures of the Middle East and hasten the spread of more liberal politics and economics in the region."
"...Intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions already made," and the White House ignored potentially "ill will between policymakers and intelligence officers, and that the intelligence community's own work was politicized. As the national intelligence officer responsible for the Middle East from 2000 to 2005, I witnessed all of these disturbing developments."
The Senate intelligence committee and President Bush's war commission (tapped with building a case for the invasion of Iraq) 'overlooked' information that President Bush later used as justification for the war.
Pillar is a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operative who was responsible for intelligence in the Middle East at the time the United States invaded Iraq.
"Official intelligence on Iraqi weapons programs was flawed but even with its flaws, it was not what led to the war," Pillar writes.
"If the entire body of official intelligence analysis on Iraq had a policy implication, it was to avoid war -- or if war was going to be launched, to prepare for a messy aftermath."
The CIA meanwhile told Reuters that Pillar was expressing his personal view and in no way should the comments reflect department thoughts or policy on the war in Iraq.
CIA officials at the time of the invasion claimed that Saddam Hussein was storing weapons of mass destruction. [Read Colin Powell's presentation of CIA evidence used to build support for invading Iraq.]
Pillar contends that the White House 'cherry-picked' bits of information they felt was viable to build just cause for invading Iraq.
From this, the White House suspected a link between Iraq and al Qaeda.
The actual intelligence revealed that Iraq was not socially prepared for the same democratic system in place across Western civilizations, and that an invasion at that period in time could back-fire and require a prolonged effort in order to restore the country from chaos.
Pillar suggested in 2002 that by occupying Iraq would subject military personnel to unnecessary guerrilla warfare. He claims that during the pre-invasion findings, President Bush repeatedly called for more information in order to support the weapons of mass destruction claim.
"But the method of investigation used by the panels [Senate committee ] essentially, asking analysts whether their arms had been twisted would have caught only the crudest attempts at politicization," he said.
Pillar is now on faculty of the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University after serving 28 years in the CIA. Foreign Affairs magazine is located online at Foreign Affairs.
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