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http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/040607A.shtml

Pentagon Officer Created Phony Intel on Iraq/al-Qaeda Link
By Matt Renner
t r u t h o u t | Report

Friday 06 April 2007

Newly released documents confirm that a Pentagon unit knowingly cooked up intelligence claiming a direct link between Iraq and al-Qaeda in order to win support for a preemptive strike against the country.

A report prepared by the Defense Department's Inspector General for Carl Levin, the Democratic Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, explicitly shows how former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith used his defense department position to cook intelligence claiming a connection between the terrorist organization and Saddam Hussein's regime.

The Inspector General's report, "Review of the Pre-Iraqi War Activities of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy," focuses specifically on Feith's intelligence gathering operations in the months prior to the March 2003 invasion. An executive summary of the report was declassified in February. The full report was declassified and released Thursday at Levin's request.

"It is important for the public to see why the Pentagon's inspector general concluded that Secretary Feith's office 'developed, produced and then disseminated alternative intelligence assessments on the Iraq and al-Qaeda relationship,' which included 'conclusions that were inconsistent with the consensus of the Intelligence Community,' and why the Inspector General concluded that these actions were 'inappropriate,'" Levin said. "Until today, those details were classified and outside the public's view."

Documents released in conjunction with the inspector general's findings include a July 25, 2002 memorandum and briefing from Feith's Office of Special Plans titled "Iraq and al-Qaida: Making the Case" that claimed a "mature, symbiotic relationship [between Iraq and al-Qaida]" existed.

But according to the IG's declassified report, "a Senior Intelligence Analyst working in the Joint Intelligence Task Force-Combating Terrorism (JITF-CT) countered point-by-point, each instance of an alleged tie between Iraq and al-Qaida ..."

According to the IG report, both the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) had throughly examined the possibility of an active relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida and determined there were "no conclusive signs [of a relationship]," and "direct cooperation ... has not been established."

Feith's Office of Special Plans, however, created a briefing based on a previous report, "Assessing the Relationship Between Iraq and al Qaida." The presentation was aimed at discrediting the conclusions of the CIA and the DIA.

"The very title of the Feith briefing slides [Assessing the Relationship Between Iraq and al Qaida] contradicts his claim on February 16, 2007 that 'we didn't do intelligence assessments,' as well as his claim on February 14, 2007 that the briefing was simply 'a critique of the CIA's work on the Iraq-al-Qaeda relationship,' and no more than an effort to 'raise questions about CIA work,'" Levin said Thursday.