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September 8, 2006
The Phase II Reports

I spent my lunch break in a teleconference regarding the release of two reports from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence -- the so-called Phase II reports. These came from further investigations by the SSCI into the differences between pre-war intel and post-war findings, and specifically focused on two areas of inquiry. The first covered the general accuracy of pre-war intel on WMD and Iraqi connections to al-Qaeda. The second report analyzes the information given to American intelligence by the Iraqi National Congress, headed at the time by Ahmed Chalabi, who currently serves in Iraq's National Assembly.

This telecon was "on background" and involved senior Republican staffers on the Hill, and it was pretty strange. For one thing, I found it less than enlightening. They covered the data in very broad strokes, basically giving us a quick rundown of what they saw would create the most controversy -- but didn't provide much in specific data until afterwards by e-mail. What we did find out was how angry they were over the hijacking of the process. I think their anger may be well justified, from what we have read in the reports.

The main controversy appears to come in the second report regarding the INC. This report wound up getting a series of conclusions added through Democratic insistence that reportedly doesn't really match up with the data in the report. Chuck Hagel and Olympia Snowe sided with the Democrats, giving them enough of a majority to win out. This prompted a series of "additional views" by Chairman Pat Roberts and other members of the SSCI, apart and together. It turns the report into a partisan squabble, which given the atmosphere in the past decade or more, surprises no one.

The report on general intel also has created controversy. AJ Strata and Thomas Jocelyn have outlined major omissions in the data regarding the lack of further evidence for Iraq/AQ ties. More to the point, AJ shows where the report openly states that the committee didn't really pursue questions of Iraq's links to terrorism outside of the scope of their mission, ie, comparing pre-war intel to post-war intel, an exercise that doesn't lend itself to the same level of certainty as the WMD question. He also notes this passage in the report that the media skipped in its reporting:

The Committee examined the assessments from the Intelligence Community on the topics discussed in the NIE produced prior to and following the NIE. In most cases, the opinions of the community and individual agencies did not change following the publication of the NIE or following the 2002-2003 United Nations’ inspections in Iraq. The community judgement did change pertaining to the intended use of the Iraq’s UAVs. Specifically, the NIE judgement that Iraq’s attempts to procure U.S. mapping software for its UAVs that was useless outside the U.S., “strongly suggests that Iraq is investigating the use of these UAVs for missions targeting the United States.” A change was made to the UAV judgements in a new NIE published in January 2003 titled Nontraditional Threats to the US Homeland Through 2007.

The procurement of mapping software for the US in a program for ultralight aircraft is more than just suggestive of terror plotting; no other explanation would make sense. Unless Saddam and his boys decided that they wanted to retire from the hectic life of genocidal tyrants and take up ultralight aviation as a hobby in America, the combination clearly describes a potential delivery mechanism for some kind of attack -- probably an anthrax or other airborne biological attack. AJ explains the details.

I would suggest that people refrain from jumping to the conclusions of either party in this instance and instead do the unthinkable: read the reports for yourselves. I'll be working on them this weekend and attempting to analyze the conclusions of all parties in light of the data. In these unfortunate times, we cannot rely on our representatives to honestly and forthrightly present the data and reach realistic conclusions.

Addendum: It would be a lot easier to do that with searchable copies of these reports in PDF format. The versions on the SSCI site are scans of the printed versions.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 8, 2006 9:13 PM

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The webmaster's blog-within-a-blog. Continuously updated and bumped, newest items at the top. 01:57 The Phase II Reports Ed Morrissey I spent my lunch break in a teleconference regarding the release of two reports from the Senate Select Committee on In... [Read More]

Tracked on September 9, 2006 2:00 AM

» About That Senate Report from Iowa Voice
A lot of hoopla this weekend over a report released by the Senate yesterday, saying that there were no connections between al Qaeda and Iraq: There’s no evidence Saddam Hussein had ties with al-Qaida, according to a Senate report issued Friday on pre [Read More]

Tracked on September 9, 2006 11:01 AM


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