NOTE: The author is donating all of his book revenues to charitable organizations serving U.S. veterans and their families

Misconception 2

Did U.S. officials manipulate intelligence to induce the President to overthrow Saddam and to persuade the public to support the war?


  • IN FACT:  The Pentagon-CIA dispute over the Iraq–al Qaida relationship began with the criticism that the CIA was politicizing its own intelligence reporting.

Like my government colleagues generally, I believed the CIA’s assessment that Saddam had chemical and biological stockpiles, not just programs. That intelligence was consistent with assessments from the Administrations of George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and from foreign intelligence organizations and UN inspectors. (p. 225)

In July 2004, the [Senate Select Intelligence] committee published a unanimous report concluding that policy makers did not pressure intelligence officials to politicize the intelligence. . . . The Silberman-Robb Commission, too, looked into the briefing, and in March 2005 it also concluded that policy officials had made no effort to politicize Iraq intelligence. (p. 269)

Excerpt from the Silberman-Robb Report:

The Commission also found no evidence of “politicization” even under the broader definition used by the CIA’s Ombudsman for Politicization, which is not limited solely to the case in which a policymaker applies overt pressure on an analyst to change an assessment. The definition adopted by the CIA is broader, and includes any “unprofessional manipulation of information and judgments” by intelligence officers to please what those officers perceive to be policymakers’ preferences (p. 188).

We conclude that good-faith efforts by intelligence consumers to understand the bases for analytic judgments, far from constituting “politicization,” are entirely legitimate. This is the case even if policymakers raise questions because they do not like the conclusions or are seeking evidence to support policy preferences. Those who must use intelligence are entitled to insist that they be fully informed as to both the evidence and the analysis (p. 189; footnote omitted).

Excerpt from the SSCI Report on Iraq Prewar Intelligence:

The Committee did not find any evidence that Administration officials attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to change their judgements related to Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction capabilities (p. 284).

The Committee found that none of the analysts or other people interviewed by the Committee said that they were pressured to change their conclusions related to Iraq’s links to terrorism. (p. 363)