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Pentagon Faults Prewar Iraq Intelligence
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Intelligence provided by US former undersecretary of defense Douglas J. Feith to buttress the White House case for invading Iraq included "reporting of dubious quality or reliability" that supported the political views of senior administration officials rather than the conclusions of the intelligence community, according to a report by the Pentagon's inspector general.


Feith's office "was predisposed to finding a significant relationship between Iraq and al Qaida," The Washington Post reported Friday, citing portions of the report released Thursday.


An unclassified summary of the full document is scheduled for release Friday in a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee.


The inspector general concluded that Feith's assessment in 2002 that Iraq and al Qaida had a "mature symbiotic relationship" was not fully supported by available intelligence but was nonetheless used by policymakers, the Post reported.


At the time of Feith's reporting, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had concluded only that there was an "evolving" association, "based on sources of varying reliability," the newspaper said.


Feith, who was defense policy chief before leaving the government in 2005, was one of the key contributors to the administration's rationale for war. His intelligence activities, authorized by then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul D. Wolfowitz, and coordinated with Vice President Cheney's office, stemmed from an administration belief that the CIA was underplaying evidence of then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's ties with al Qaida.


In interviews with Pentagon investigators, the summary document said, Feith insisted that his activities did not constitute intelligence and that "even if they were, (they) would be appropriate given that they were responding to direction from the Deputy Secretary of Defense."


The summary document confirmed a range of accusations that Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, had leveled against Feith's office, alleging inaccurate work.


Feith's office, it said, drew on "both reliable and unreliable" intelligence reports in 2002 to produce a link between al Qaida and Iraq "that was much stronger than that assessed by the IC (Intelligence Community) and more in accord with the policy views of senior officials in the Administration."


It stated that the office produced intelligence assessments "inconsistent" with the US intelligence community consensus, calling those actions "inappropriate" because the assessments purported to be "intelligence products" but were far more conclusive than the consensus view.


(Xinhua News Agency February 10, 2007)

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