Administration was warned invasion would help Iran, al-Qaida

Some within the intelligence community predicted exactly what would happen in the wake of an invasion of Iraq -- and the White House knew about it.

Published May 24, 2007 3:57PM (EDT)

The latest Senate Intelligence Committee report about the run-up to the invasion of Iraq is still being declassified -- it reportedly could be released as early as this week -- but some news about what it contains is already leaking out.

According to the Associated Press, "U.S. intelligence agencies warned senior members of the Bush administration in early 2003 that invading Iraq could create internal conflict that would give Iran and al Qaeda new opportunities to expand their influence ... warnings predicting what would happen after the U.S.-led invasion were circulated widely in government, including to the Defense Department and the Office of the Vice President. It wasn't clear whether President Bush was briefed."

The AP article goes on to report the words of one former intelligence official, who said that a decision to invade Iraq had been made before those warnings were circulated, and that the analysts responsible knew that, but hoped their reports would be taken into consideration during planning stages.

Asked at his press conference today about the report, President Bush dodged the question.

"Going into Iraq, we were warned about a lot of things, some of which happened, some of which didn't happen," he said. "And, obviously, as I made a decision of -- as consequential as that, I weighed the risks and rewards of any decision.

"I firmly believe the world's better off without Saddam Hussein in power. I know the Iraqis are better off without Saddam Hussein in power. I think America's safer without Saddam Hussein in power.

"As to al-Qaida in Iraq, al-Qaida's going to fight us wherever we are. See, that's their strategy. Their strategy is to drive us out of the Middle East."

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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