Questions for the Senate Intelligence Committee

Now that the Senate has identified many of the failings and manipulations of prewar intelligence concerning Iraq, who will hold the Senate accountable for their dereliction of duty when it comes to intelligence oversight?

That’s really the next step, right?

Last week, the US Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the “US Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq” confirmed the 9/11 Commission’s conclusions last month about the dangers resulting from the distortions and deceptions of “cherry picked” intelligence. On Wednesday, July 14th, Lord Butler released his report damning Britain’s justification for waging war against Baghdad. It’s reportedly a somewhat milder version of the Senate’s work – but no one is really held accountable, of course. Lots of writing in the passive voice – “mistakes were made. . .”

During the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, Defense Undersecretary Douglas Feith, together with Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, created their own Iraqi intelligence cell within the Pentagon to churn out propaganda to justifying the invasion of Iraq. They even contracted out extra help from PR firms to help shape public opinion. An appendix to the Select Committee’s report describes the Pentagon Iraqi Intel Cell. The CIA disputed their supposed “evidence,” but President Bush kept hammering the “connections” into the public’s collective mind in numerous speeches.

  • Now – what in the world was the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence doing all this time?

  • How were these senators fulfilling their constitutionally mandated oversight responsibilities?

  • What were their questions and concerns when they were briefed on the run-up to the war?

  • What did they know and when did they know it? . . .and why didn’t they?

Time for some answers from the inquisitors.

July 17, 2004