Pentagon says pre-war intel not illegal
Some of the Pentagon’s prewar intelligence work, including a contention that the CIA underplayed the likelihood of al-Qaida connections to Saddam Hussein, was inappropriate but not illegal, a Defense Department investigation has concluded.[…] [Sen. Carl] Levin [D-Mich.] in September 2005 asked the inspector general to determine whether Feith’s offices’ activities were appropriate. If deemed inappropriate, the inspector general should recommend remedial action, Levin said then. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., who was chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee at the time, separately asked the inspector general to decide on legality as well as appropriateness.
The 2004 report from the Sept. 11 Commission found no evidence of a collaborative relationship between Saddam and Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida terror organization before the U.S. invasion.
Levin also said it was a “red herring” to say that he or others in Congress claimed that any of Feith’s activities had been illegal. Feith has said the accusation that he misled Congress was, by definition, a claim that he had acted illegally.
Doug Feith fans will be disappointed to know that he’s full of shit on this. If misleading Congress always means breaking the law then president “16 words” Bush would have cleaned out his office years ago. What happened here is a pretty simple game and worth breaking down for posterity.
Keep in mind that Sen. Roberts set a modern record for partisan hackery, so we can rule out some residual interest in oversight. Investigating Republicans just isn’t in his blood. Roberts and Feith knew what the Inspector General would find the same way Chuck Colson knew what direction the Watergate story was going, so they gamed the outcome by sliding in the extra bit about legality to paper over the more relevant conclusions.
Now the report is ready and, voila!, headlines read pre-war intel not illegal. Of course that wasn’t the question that Pentagon critics were asking. That other stuff about mendaciously gaming the Saddam-9/11 connection is in there, can’t help that. But the tone of the article seems practically reversed.
Great moments in PR.