Senate has writers' block on Iraq intel report

The report on prewar intelligence just can't seem to make it out of committee.

Published July 31, 2006 5:08PM (EDT)

Way back in Paleolithic times, the U.S. Senate promised to investigate what went wrong with U.S. intelligence and policymaking in the runup to the Iraq war. We got the first part of that report in mid-2004 -- the part that talked about the failures on the part of our intelligence agencies. The other part, the one that was supposed to look at how the Bush administration used and misused the intelligence it received, got punted till after the election.

Eons passed; no report. Democrats actually shut down the Senate briefly last year in protest. The report was imminent, they were told then. Just a little final polishing was needed.

Fast-forward to today, and this report in the Washington Post:

Just two of five planned sections of the committee's findings are fully drafted and ready to be voted on by members, according to Democratic and Republican staffers. Committee sources involved with the report, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said they are working hard to complete it. But disputing [Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Pat] Roberts, they said they had started almost from scratch in November after Democrats staged their protest....

Two relatively uncontroversial sections of the report may see the light of day soon. But not the stuff that matters.

The section most Democrats have sought, however, is not yet in draft form and might not emerge until after the November election, staffers said. That section will examine the administration's deliberations over prewar intelligence and whether its public presentation of the threat reflected the evidence senior officials reviewed in private.

As long as the Senate remains in Republican hands it's a good bet that the stonewalling will continue. Barring a change of that body's control in November, we can expect to be hearing that this report still needs a little more work come November 2008.

By Scott Rosenberg

Salon co-founder Scott Rosenberg is director of He is the author of "Say Everything" and Dreaming in Code and blogs at

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