Thursday, March 31, 2005

Dead Wrong

From the WaPo:

In a scathing report, a presidential commission said Thursday that America’s spy agencies were “dead wrong” in most of their judgments about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction before the war and that the United States knows “disturbingly little” about the threats posed by many of the nation’s most dangerous adversaries.

The commission called for dramatic change to prevent future failures. It outlined 74 recommendations and said President Bush could implement most of them without action by Congress. It urged Bush to give broader powers to John Negroponte, the new director of national intelligence, to deal with challenges to his authority from the CIA, Defense Department or other elements of the nation’s 15 spy agencies.

It also called for sweeping changes at the FBI to combine the bureau’s counterterrorism and counterintelligence resources into a new office.

The report was the latest somber assessment of intelligence shortfalls that a series of investigative panels have made since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Numerous investigations have concluded that spy agencies had serious intelligence failures before the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks against the United States.

The report implicitly absolves the Bush administration of manipulating the intelligence used to launch the 2003 Iraq war, putting the blame for bad intelligence directly on the intelligence community.

“The daily intelligence briefings given to you before the Iraq war were flawed,” the report said. “Through attention-grabbing headlines and repetition of questionable data, these briefings overstated the case that Iraq was rebuilding its WMD programs.”

The unclassified version of the report does not go into significant detail on the intelligence community’s abilities in Iran and North Korea because commissioners did not want to tip the U.S. hand to its leading adversaries. Those details are included in the classified version.

The Bush administration is working to see if they can find a “volunteer” to pin this on.