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Cooked intelligence

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's focus on the fallout of nuclear "spin."

Cooked intelligence occurs when actual, factual information is "transformed," "made sexier", and/or embellished to enhance its significance or to lend it more credibility.

According to the Intelligence Glossary/Spy Codes, Cooked means "a mixture of genuine and fake material provided via a double agent to one's adversary."

Allegations

Greg Thielmann, who served as a top intelligence official at the U.S. State Department until resigning shortly before the war with Iraq, is one of several analysts who have charged the Bush administration with cooking its intelligence. An opinion piece in The New York Times reported May 30, 2003, on the intelligence community's response to the George W. Bush Administration's handling of the failure to find weapons of mass destruction, described as an "intelligence failure." It caused "... outrage among the intelligence professionals ... so widespread that they have formed a group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity" (VIPS). On February 7, 2003, Common Dreams published a copy of the letter the group wrote to President Bush "to protest what it called 'a policy and intelligence fiasco of monumental proportions.'"

Getting "cooked intelligence" in the White House

Apparently, in preparation for war against Iraq cooked intelligence played a key role in getting biased, often outdated or plain wrong information into the White House. According to former Officer Karen Kwiatkowski, who worked from May 2002 through February 2003 in the Pentagon, a task force, the Office of Special Plans (OSP), was created to produce more threatening intelligence reports and to find a link between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Other intelligence agencies had no or little influence on the reports sent from the OSP to the White House.

"Democratic congressman David Obey, who is investigating OSP, said: 'The office was charged with collecting, vetting and disseminating intelligence completely outside of the normal intelligence apparatus. In fact, it appears that information collected by this office was in some instances not even shared with established intelligence agencies and in numerous instances was passed on to the National Security Council and the president without having been vetted with anyone other than political appointees'." --Julian Borger, Guardian/UK, July 17. 2003.

White House received "flawed" intelligence

The July 8, 2003, New York Times reported that the White House admitted that the "Bush Claim on Iraq Had Flawed Origin":

"The White House acknowledged for the first time today that President Bush was relying on incomplete and perhaps inaccurate information from American intelligence agencies when he declared, in his State of the Union speech, that Saddam Hussein had tried to purchase uranium from Africa.
"The White House statement appeared to undercut one of the key pieces of evidence that President Bush and his aides had cited to back their claims made prior to launching an attack against Iraq in March that Mr. Hussein was 'reconstituting' his nuclear weapons program. Those claims added urgency to the White House case that military action to depose Mr. Hussein needed to be taken quickly, and could not await further inspections of the country or additional resolutions at the United Nations.
"The acknowledgment came after a day of questions -- and sometimes contradictory answers from White House officials -- about an article published on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times on Sunday by Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former ambassador who was sent to Niger, in West Africa, last year to investigate reports of the attempted purchase. He reported back that the intelligence was likely fraudulent, a warning that White House officials say never reached them.
"'There is other reporting to suggest that Iraq tried to obtain uranium from Africa,' the statement said. 'However, the information is not detailed or specific enough for us to be certain that attempts were in fact made.'
"In other words, said one senior official, 'we couldn't prove it, and it might in fact be wrong.'"

"Tortured" intelligence

"The Bush administration based a crucial prewar assertion about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda on detailed statements made by ... captive, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, [who] provided his most specific and elaborate accounts about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda only after he was secretly handed over to Egypt by the United States in January 2002, in a process known as rendition," Douglas Jehl reported in the December 9, 2005, New York Times. Al-Libi "later said he had fabricated them to escape harsh treatment, according to current and former government officials."

"The new disclosure provides the first public evidence that bad intelligence on Iraq may have resulted partly from the administration's heavy reliance on third countries to carry out interrogations of Qaeda members and others detained as part of American counterterrorism efforts," Jehl wrote. "The Bush administration used Mr. Libi's accounts as the basis for its prewar claims, now discredited, that ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda included training in explosives and chemical weapons.

"The fact that Mr. Libi recanted after the American invasion of Iraq and that intelligence based on his remarks was withdrawn by the C.I.A. in March 2004 has been public for more than a year. But American officials had not previously acknowledged either that Mr. Libi made the false statements in foreign custody or that Mr. Libi contended that his statements had been coerced," Jehl wrote. "A government official said that some intelligence provided by Mr. Libi about Al Qaeda had been accurate, and that Mr. Libi's claims that he had been treated harshly in Egyptian custody had not been corroborated."

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References


General articles

  • "U.S. Official Says Yeltsin 'Wouldn't Lie to Bill Clinton'," American Foreign Policy Council, May 13, 1996: (May 3) "Concerned that CIA Director John Mark Deutch cooked intelligence to show, among other things, that Russian strategic nuclear missiles no longer threaten the United States, the House National Security Committee has set up a non governmental panel to review CIA analysis, the Washington Times reports. The CIA's November 1995 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) concluded that no new long-range missiles would threaten the continental United States for at least 15 years. Critics say the NIE was rigged to fit the administration's position against protecting the U.S. from nuclear missile attack."

External articles specific to the War in Iraq / weapons of mass destruction

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