In October 2002, the case against Iraq was laid out in the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE). These pages manufactured the evidence on which the American Administration sent the children of other American citizens to either die on foreign soil, or to murder the children of another nation. Reading this paper has left many in their own state of shock and awe, but has come as no surprise to the anti-war protestors. What would fail as a university level submission has served as the foundation on which a nation sent the youth of its poor to war. The NIE illustrates the reason for feelings of betrayal held by the likes of Lila Lipinska; a war of “freedom” and “against terror” whose repercussions and consequence the American population will feel for generations.
The first two words in the NIE report are “We judge”, and it is this non-factual tone which carries the rest of the report. Peppered throughout, there are sentences and words such as “We lack specific information on many key aspects of Iraq’s WMD program”, “we have little specific information on Iraq’s CW stockpile”, “probably” and “could” (not certainly and do), “we assess” (without explanation or logic), “in the view of most agencies” (without the names of the agencies), “clandestine reporting” (without qualification), “largely rebuilt” (not definitely), and “when it obtains” (rather than it has obtained). The entirety of the report does not begin to allude to a justifiable, reasonable assumption, let alone a full-blown and definite case for the attack on, invasion and occupation of a sovereign nation. If you were unaware of it before, then this is the day on which you should be convinced of the illegality of this war.
The above was reinforced by the recent results of a year-long, bipartisan investigation undertaken by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI). They found that the October 2000 NIE conclusions leading to war, reasons about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and links to Al-Qaeda were “overstated”, “misleading”, conclusions “not supported”, “provided readers with an incomplete picture of the nature and extent of the debate within the Intelligence Community”, and failed at analytic trade craft. There was no adequate or accurate explanation regarding the “uncertainties”, the report suffering from a “collective presumption” that Iraq did possess WMD rendering their conclusions completely presumptive rather than factual.
As with most Hollywood films, the SSCI also found that this Administration’s production carried one lone character who provided a form of comic relief. Unfortunately in this instance, the individual served as the exclusive source asserting Iraq had mobile bioweapons laboratories. Code-named "Curve Ball", this person was debriefed by foreign intelligence service and met with only one American (who thought that Curve Ball was an alcoholic). While individuals throughout the Pentagon raised concerns about this individual’s credibility, it was his information that, according to the Washington Post, “became the centerpiece of Secretary of State Colin L. Powell’s presentation to the United Nations seven weeks before the war.”
Powell stood before the world and declared the existence of WMD undeniable, based not on definitive evidence, but on one potentially drunk person’s unsubstantiated allegations. Worse still, this testimony was not something the American intelligence agencies received directly, but rather one achieved through another foreign government. And so, ladies and gentlemen, one of the ways in which the case for war was manufactured was done so by playing ‘broken telephone’ (these intelligence boys and girls sure have a lot of time on their hands).
Ultimately, the SSCI found that there was a significant shift in the CIA’s position once Cheney began stating publicly that Iraq had actively reconstituted its nuclear weapons program. The SSCI further concluded that the toeing of the Administration’s line resulted in grave NIE misstatements, concealment of dissenting opinions and dismissal of evidence that contradicted the official Administration’s ‘story’.
What you see isn’t what you get
Most interesting is that the above-mentioned qualifiers were dropped from the version that was made available for popular consumption, portraying the assessments and the judgments as facts rather than what they really were: biased interpretations and biased opinions. In defense of this report, and considering the national hysteria in which America has been steeped since 9/11, this manufactured reality may still serve as enough reason to go to war with anyone.
There was and there continues to be a deliberate and active part on the current American Administration to cheat its own civilian population from the truth. That we are forced to watch this slow murder of reality is one of the many bizarre characteristics of the current and devastating state of affairs. Apart from these particularly brutish lies, we must also watch as they are furthered by resident news agencies who toe the Administration’s line and work to manipulate the American peoples’ fears in an effort to meet ulterior political, economic and religious ends.
As we have heard time and again, the powers within the White House made a direct request that after September 11, a case for war against Iraq be built on the assumption that Iraq had weapons that could threaten the United States, and that these weapons would be used because of the links that existed between Iraq and Al-Qaeda. Unfortunately for this Administration, the SSCI concluded that there was no “established formal relationship" between the country and the network. And it is here that the SSCI falls short, for although it asks ‘What’ and ‘How’, it failed to ask ‘Why’, willing to only state that there must exist pressure on the intelligence community “when the most senior officials in the Bush administration had already forcefully and repeatedly stated their conclusions publicly.”
The rule of law has joined Cirque du Soleil
The approach utilized by the NIE was that Saddam was branded guilty before the process of investigation began. The rule of law was forced to do acrobatics, beginning from the assumption that he was ‘guilty until proven so’ and not ‘innocent until proven guilty’. Ultimately, the NIE ignored dissenting opinions, turned estimates into facts, and worst of all, exaggerated Iraq’s ability or want to harm any American civilian, let alone threaten the entirety of its United States.
Here there is a deeper problem that the rule of law does not normally support: The sheer illogic of asking the accused to prove a negative. That the United States was forcing Saddam to prove that he did not have weapons of mass destruction was unprecedented.
Let’s simplify this by using a different analogy: I accuse you of having the capacity to lay an egg. Legally, it is incumbent on me, the accuser, to prove this claim. Most definitely, it would be odd for me to lay that claim, and then make you prove that you don’t in fact lay eggs. Odd because of the way our legal system works, for it is set up to protect innocent individuals from being accused at random and for the purpose of some ulterior motive.
Prove that you’re not hiding a blue button with red beads on it.
Prove that you don’t own a Kermit the frog doll.
Prove that you don’t have an ‘Nsync CD.
Strange? Well, the US got away with it, and the SSCI is calling them on the conclusions that worked to ‘connect the dots’ between their ludicrous accusations, and the means by which they reached the conclusions that led to the accusations. The sheer backwardness of the actions of the United States should have served as proof that the United States began with an assumption it then worked to prove; that it was desperately trying to piece3 together a picture that simply did not exist.
Still, we are left with the ‘Why’ -” and although many of us have our assumptions, that question can only be answered by an independent and official inquiry that has the power and the authority to question even the President of its country.
Acting CIA Director John E. McLaughlin defended outgoing CIA director Tenet by admitting that there were some "serious flaws" that existed months ago, but that have since been remedied.
Obviously, that remedy, whatever it was and turned toward whatever flaw McLaughlin referred to, can not rectify the actions which stemmed from that October 2002 NIE. Most of the dead have been buried, the infrastructure totally decimated, the world’s opinion of America further damaged. As I type, there is a war raging inside of Iraq, one that remains unjustifiable, one that was always unjustifiable and unacceptable.
One of the men who presented the SSCI’s report was Senator Jay Rockefeller, who stated that the NIE’s report had diminished American credibility on the world stage. “Our standing in the world has never been lower. We have fostered a deep hatred of Americans in the Muslim world, and that will grow. As a direct consequence, our nation is more vulnerable today than ever before."
It is time that America’s boys and girls were brought home, apologies, compensation and reparations made. More importantly, it is time for the men and women who sent this military to fight a false war be brought to trial for both crimes against their country and crimes against humanity.