Ignoring The Evidence

Ken AshfordIraqLeave a Comment

Bob Geiger:

Which makes the report issued by the Senate Intelligence Committee before the Memorial Day holiday even more interesting because Prewar Intelligence Assessments About Postwar Iraq (PDF) shows not only that Shinseki was right about troop levels, but also — as if more evidence is needed — that the Bush administration ignored critical pre-war intelligence in their rush to invade Iraq.

The report, which the previous Republican Congress successfully kept from being produced for two years, shows that months before the Iraq invasion, the White House knew from U.S. intelligence agencies that a civil war would likely erupt after Saddam’s ouster, that al-Qaeda would quickly move to exploit the American occupation and that Osama bin Laden’s organization would actually gain strength globally due to Bush’s action.

"Prior to sending troops to Iraq, the Bush Administration promoted the terrorist nexus between Iraq and al-Qa’ida (and the attacks of 9/11) as a central part of its case to the American people that Iraq posed an imminent threat that only military action could extinguish, despite the Intelligence Community’s view that Iraq and al-Qa’ida viewed each other with suspicion and were not operationally linked," said Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) in the report.

"What the Administration also kept from the American people were the sobering intelligence assessments it received at the time warning that the post-war transition could allow al-Qa’ida to establish the presence in Iraq and opportunity to strike at American it did not have prior to the invasion."

The report reinforced Shinseki’s original contention — which further bolsters the image of a Bush White House that wanted to do the war their way regardless of expert opinion — that up to 400,000 troops might be required to "keep the peace" after the initial invasion due to a severely damaged national infrastructure and the virtual certainty of sectarian violence.

"Sunni Arabs would face possible loss of their longstanding privileged position while Shia would seek power commensurate with their majority status," says the report. "Kurds could try to take advantage of Saddam’s departure by seizing some of the large northern oilfields, a move that would elicit forceful responses from Sunni Arabs. Score-settling would occur throughout Iraq between those associated with Saddam’s regime and those who have suffered most under it."

The report also pointed out that with such an overwhelming U.S. focus on maintaining the Iraq occupation, Osama bin Laden and Company would be allowed to flourish and operate with greater ease in other countries, saying that the White House should expect "‚Ķmany countries — including some US allies — to slacken efforts to hunt down al-Qa’ida and its associates within their borders."

And now that the Congress is in Democratic hands and once again back to the business of actually performing their Constitutional oversight role, the Intelligence Committee’s report makes very clear that George W. Bush got ample warning that an Iraq invasion would require far greater military might than they had planned and that the action itself would embolden the terrorists — as the GOP has so often accused those now against the war of doing.

History will show that the U.S. intellegence agencies got it right about Iraq.  And the Bush Administration ignored them.