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Why every intelligence community got Iraq's weapons of mass destruction wrong


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The Washington Examiner/Restorng America

 John Schindler
March 25, 2023

This week marks the twentieth anniversary of America’s invasion of Iraq .

Aside from the enduring controversy over the war itself, there’s broad agreement that the U.S. intelligence community failed policymakers and the public by mistakenly assessing that Saddam Hussein’s repressive regime possessed weapons of mass destruction . It’s always easier to blame the spooks than admit that the White House screwed up something massive. Still, it cannot be denied that the intelligence community got this one wrong. That was the point of Michael Rubin's recent Washington Examiner column . He asserts, in part, that they "did what Washington should expect: circle the wagons and shirk responsibility."


I was there, so I can attest that’s true — but it leaves out some important things.

In the run-up to our invasion of Iraq, I headed up a multi-agency intelligence task force that focused on the Iraqi military. Our focus wasn’t WMDs, per se, but of course we followed that issue, since it was the Bush White House’s top intelligence priority in the fateful winter of 2002-2003. It wasn’t just American and Western intelligence agencies that believed Iraq had WMDs - top Iraqis believed it too. Saddam’s regime was a strange Stalinist-inspired labyrinth of lies, violence, and conspiracy theories. The Iraqi strongman respected President George H.W. Bush, his 1991 Gulf War foe, as a worthy adversary. In contrast, he rather simply regarded George W. Bush (whom he referred to privately as "Baby Bush") as a bumbling neophyte who was little more than a pawn of wealthy Zionists. Standard conspiracy stuff.

That said, telling Saddam truths that he didn’t want to hear was a good way to end your career and possibly your life. Senior security officials in Baghdad had a habit of getting executed or simply disappearing. Hence, senior intelligence and military officers in Baghdad consistently presented "the boss" with rose-tinted assessments of all matters, including armaments and WMDs. The key fact is that in the 1990s, Saddam’s regime executed a major denial and deception operation designed to convince Tehran — which was viewed by Baghdad as a greater threat to the regime than Washington — that Iraq possessed WMDs when, in reality, it no longer did.



1. That they got it wrong is understandable. Saddam had used WMD's in the war against Ian, and against The Kurds.

2. IMO a bigger problem is when you say WMD (Weapons  of Mass Destruction) many people think




This is also a WMD. And in many ways worse.


Ask The Kurds.

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