Sunday, May 27, 2007

No-one could have predicted that!

Yesterday the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report saying that intelligence agencies had predicted sectarian violence in Iraq.
Democrats on a deeply divided Senate Intelligence Committee on Friday accused the Bush administration of ignoring preinvasion warnings from the nation's spy agencies that a war in Iraq could be followed by violence and division and that it could strengthen the hands of Al Qaeda and of Iran.

"Sadly, the administration's refusal to heed these dire warnings, and worse, to plan for them, has led to tragic consequences for which our nation is paying a terrible price," said Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, the Democratic chairman. His was one of many dueling statements accompanying a long-awaited 226-page committee report on the intelligence agencies' prewar predictions of the effects of toppling Saddam Hussein.

Republicans said the report exaggerated the prescience of the intelligence agencies. They noted that the assessments, made in early 2003, barely mentioned the possibility of a Sunni Arab insurgency — a point the committee's Democratic majority voted not to include in the text — and were "certainly not a crystal ball."

However, these same Republicans -- who bemoan the "politics and partisanship" that plagued this report -- decided to insert a favorite Republican talking point: Valerie Plame was responsible for her husband getting the job to go to Niger.
But Mr. Bond, along with two Republican colleagues, still added to the report a 17-page addendum rehashing a favorite issue of their own: the role of Valerie Wilson, the former Central Intelligence Agency officer, in arranging a prewar trip to Africa by Joseph C. Wilson IV, her husband and a former ambassador, to investigate possible Iraqi uranium purchases.

Except she didn't send Wilson. She didn't have the authority, and the CIA said she didn't:
[T]he CIA has maintained that Wilson was chosen for the trip by senior officials in the Directorate of Operations counterproliferation division (CPD) -- not by his wife -- largely because he had handled a similar agency inquiry in Niger in 1999. On that trip, Plame, who worked in that division, had suggested him because he was planning to go there, according to Wilson and the Senate committee report.

The Republicans also had some other complaints about this report:
Republicans disputed the documents' value and said their release "exaggerates the significance" of prewar intelligence assessments because they were based more on expert analysis than on hard intelligence.

Stupid experts! What do they know?
President Bush said at a news conference Thursday that his administration was "warned about a lot of things, some of which happened, some of which didn't happen."

"And none of which we listened to."
But, he added, "the world's better off without Saddam Hussein in power. I know the Iraqis are better off without Saddam Hussein in power. I think America is safer without Saddam Hussein in power. As to al-Qaida in Iraq, al-Qaida's going to fight us wherever we are."

al-Qaida may fight us wherever we are, but we don't have to make it easier for them!

Ugh. The report is available in PDF format here.

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