How the intelligence was cooked

A newly declassified Defense Department report sheds more light on Douglas Feith's office, his push for war, and how persistently he ignored the intelligence community.

Published April 10, 2007 7:31PM (EDT)

Last Thursday, Sen. Carl Levin released a declassified version of a report from the Department of Defense's inspector general. The report confirms that there were no operational links between Saddam Hussein's regime and al-Qaida and describes the intelligence-gathering gaffes that led to the war in Iraq, particularly those emanating from the office of Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith. The report comes down hard on Feith, a prominent neoconservative who also headed the Office of Special Plans, the notorious "stovepiping" operation responsible for taking much of the bad intelligence on Iraq directly to the office of Vice President Dick Cheney. The report claims that Feith's office "developed, produced, and then disseminated alternative intelligence assessments on the Iraq and al-Qaida relationship, which included some conclusions that were inconsistent with the consensus of the Intelligence Community." This faulty intelligence was able to reach the highest level of government policymakers, the report claims, because Feith failed to seek input from the intelligence community.

Presented here are the report and a PowerPoint presentation that Feith and his staffers gave to members of the U.S. intelligence community, the Department of Defense and the Bush administration. According to the inspector general's report, the presentation portrayed as fact a reported 2000 meeting between Sept. 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence official in Prague, Czechoslovakia, despite the fact that the CIA had explicitly stated it could not confirm such a meeting took place.

Feith also added or subtracted slides depending on whether the audience consisted of members of the DoD, the CIA or the administration. For instance, a slide emphasizing the importance of the Prague meeting was added for the presentation given to Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's former chief of staff. Reproduced on this page is a slide criticizing the intelligence community for being overly skeptical about the possibility of a connection between Iraq and al-Qaida. This slide was omitted from the version of the presentation shown to then-CIA head George Tenet. On the next page is an excerpt from the I.G.'s report, which discusses how Feith's office tended to omit discussion of how its intelligence assessments varied from the views of the intelligence community at large. The full inspector general's report, as well as the full presentation given by Feith, can be downloaded here and here.

By Salon Staff

MORE FROM Salon Staff

Related Topics ------------------------------------------