Iraq War

Letter | Defending Colin Powell and documenting faulty information that led to Iraq war

March 8, 2014 

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Re: Feb. 22 letter from John McNerney, “More than ‘faulty intelligence’ needed as reason for Iraq War:”

Let me confirm Mr. McNerney's assertion that I do not believe Colin Powell “was probably very aware that he was passing on a lie when he stood before the UN and describes Iraq Mobil Weapons Laboratories..” I believe Colin Powell is an honorable man who did not lie in his speech before the UN. If you have any evidence that he did lie you should have presented it, opinion isn't evidence. Relaying information in his UN speech, that he thought true is not lying.

Mr. Powell spent several days at the CIA with members of his staff from Department of State and members of the intelligence community including CIA head George Tenet going over information that he might use in his speech to the UN. Mr. Powell did discard some of the intelligence he thought wrong or inaccurate. The example you cite about the Mobile Weapons Lab was given by a few persons but the main source was identified as “Curve ball.” This information was wrong, inaccurate or a lie.

It turns out that this information, along with other information in his speech, had not been confirmed and verified, poor tradecraft by the intelligence community and not a lie by Mr. Powell. He was relying on intelligence that had not been vetted, given to him and his staff by the intelligence community. Mr. Powell acknowledges this speech was a “blot” on his record, but in no way proves he or anyone else lied.

You stated that: “They made claims that Iraq had WMDs even though the UN Weapons Inspectors on the ground in Iraq said the WMD's did not exist.” WMDs did not exist and the Bush administration acknowledged this later on. A letter from the Director of National Intelligence to Rep. Peter Hoekstra, chairman, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence stated: “Since 2003 Coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agents.” The UN inspectors were stopped, slowed down, and expelled many times over this 12-year period of this on again off again cat and mouse game of inspection, a violations of the cease fire agreement and only mild actions were taken. The UN inspections were carried on almost at Saddam's whim and direction? All Saddam had to do was account for any WMDs he had and his nuclear program and there is no invasion ... he didn't, thus the war.

This is what the third of the 23 “Whereas” clauses in the authorization to use force (Public law 107-243) against Iraq stated ... “Whereas the efforts of the international weapons inspectors, U.S. intelligence agencies and Iraqi defectors led to the discovery that Iraq had large stockpiles of chemical weapons and a large scale biological weapons program, and that Iraq had an advanced nuclear weapons development program that was much closer to producing a nuclear weapon than intelligence reporting had previously indicated.”

Notice the past tense of the verb “had.” it is very important. He “had an advanced nuclear program” and not nuclear weapons. He “had chemical and bio weapons” because we and the world knew he used them on his own people and in his war with Iran. Saddam used the inspectors as a stalling tactic to get economic sanctions lifted so he could resume his weapons programs, all the while violating the 1991 cease fire agreement.

Bush's policy was consistent with previous administrations from George H.W. Bush's 1st Gulf War, to Clinton's Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, for regime change and his Operation Desert Fox 1998, in which he lobbed missiles into Iraq to hinder Iraq's “ability to produce, store, maintain and deliver WMD's.” It was not a new policy thought up by Bush the younger. Notice the WMD problem in 1998? Was the Clinton administration lying?

“Faulty intelligence” are your words not mine. I used the cites “poor analytical tradecraft and paucity of intelligence” made by Congressional Intelligence Committees. You claim that I “blame it all on ‘faulty intelligence’ even though he documents no specific intelligence reports...” Untrue, it isn't about what I think or believe. I cited two Congressional investigations that found “no indication that the intelligence community distorted the evidence regarding Iraq's WMD's ... no evidence of political pressure to influence the intelligence community's pre-war assessments of Iraq's weapons programs ... We concluded that it was the paucity of intelligence and poor analytical tradecraft, rather than political pressure, that produced the inaccurate pre-war intelligence.”

You never address the findings of the Congressional committees I cited. Why didn't you address the findings of those who investigated the charges and not what you think I believe?

The writer lives in Murrells Inlet.

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