U.S. Spy Agencies Warned of Iraqi Sects, Panel Says
U.S. spy agencies' predictions about post-war Iraq were mostly accurate, according to a new Senate Intelligence Committee report. But several Republican senators object to conclusions in the report on pre-war intelligence assessments.
Senators and their staff considered a number of documents and previous investigations. But they relied most heavily on two papers from the National Intelligence Council — both of them previously classified — dated January 2003.
The papers looked at what the main challenges would be in a post-Saddam Iraq, and at the regional consequences of a war.
Their judgments were mostly on the mark: The authors warned about the danger of sectarian violence and said al-Qaida and Iran would try to exploit the situation.
The report was approved by a vote of 10-5, with two Republicans — Olympia Snowe of Maine and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska — crossing over to vote with the Democrats.
The five Republicans who voted against the report have a number of issues with it.
On one front, they say the report's conclusions only highlight issues that seem important to those looking at Iraq now — a prism that they say distorts the picture that was presented to policymakers at the time.
The dissenters were also angry that a large chunk of the report — 81 pages — contains names of people to whom the two National Intelligence Council reports were distributed.
While many of the names are blacked out, a good number of them are not.
Scooter Libby and Stephen Hadley at the White House are among names on the first page. The authors, it can be assumed, included the names for the sake of accountability, to show who had access to the warnings.
Republicans pointed out that just because the reports were sent out doesn't mean everyone on the list received them. Some people might have been on leave, for example, and may never have seen the documents. The list, they said, sets a bad precedent.
The Senate panel has yet to produce its findings on a central question: whether the intelligence on Iraq was hyped by senior Bush administration officials to make the case for war.
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