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."
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Apparently, in preparation for war against Iraq cooked intelligence played a key role in getting biased, often outdated or plain wrong information into the White House.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.'"
"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."
Resources and articles
Related SourceWatch articles
- 'A war sold on deception'
- Ahmed Chalabi
- Bush administration lies that led to war
- Congressional Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001
- global detention system
- media control
- Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004
- National Intelligence Estimate
- Pax Americana
- The alleged linkage of Saddam Hussein with Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda and weapons of mass destruction
- War propaganda
- White House Iraq Group
- Yellowcake forgery
- "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
- Jude Wanniski, "A Reminder: How to Combat Propaganda!! Don't Read the Newspapers," Polyconomics, September 9, 2002.
- John LeBoutillier, "The War in D.C.," John LeBoutillier, NewsMax, October 9, 2002.
- Julian Borger, "White House 'exaggerating Iraqi threat'. Bush's televised address attacked by US intelligence," Guardian (UK), October 9, 2002.
- "'Cooked Information'," Knight Ridder Newspapers / Guardian (UK), October 10, 2002.
- "Exposed: Case Against Iraq a Fraud," Pravda, October 10, 2002.
- John LeBoutillier, "Washington Goes to War," The Idler, October 12, 2002.
- Sam Parry, "Misleading the Nation to War," Consortium News, October 15, 2002.
- "Malleable Facts", The Dubya Report, November 6, 2002: "From cooked corporate books to cooked-up intelligence, the Bush administration is on its way to making dishonesty the dominant characteristic of its term in office."
- Robert Dreyfuss, "The Pentagon Muzzles the CIA. Devising bad intelligence to promote bad policy," The American Prospect, December 16, 2002.
- "Cooked Books," The Atlantic Online, March 5, 2003.
- John J. Lumpkin, "Ex-CIA Officers Questioning Iraq Data," Associated Press, March 14, 2003.
- "Memorandum for Confused Americans. Cooking Intelligence for War" by Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, CounterPunch, March 15, 2003.
- "Ex-CIA Accuse Bush of Manipulating Iraq Evidence," Associated Press, March 17, 2003.
- Robin C. Miller, "Iraq: The Torrent of Deceit," Dissident Voice, March 17, 2003.
- Scott Shane, "Some Worry U.S. May Bend Facts for Policy", Baltimore Sun (Common Dreams), April 4, 2003.
- William Raspberry, "Hokum From the Prosecution," Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. Legislative Update, April 21, 2003.
- William Raspberry, "Let's hope there's no sequel to Iraq drama," Times-Union, April 21, 2003.
- "Operation Desert Snipe," Daily Kos, April 24, 2003.
- Seymour M. Hersh, "How NeoCons 'Cooked' Evidence for War. Donald Rumsfeld has his own special sources. Are they reliable?" TVSet.org, May 5, 2003.
- Joe Conason, "Joe Conason's Journal. Did Bush know that intelligence evidence against Iraq was cooked?" Salon, May 6, 2003.
- Harold Meyerson, "Enron-Like Unreality," The Washington Post, May 13, 2003: "So whose books were more cooked -- Enron's accounts of its financial doings or the administration's prewar reports on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction?"
- James Risen, "Aftereffects: Intelligence; Prewar Views of Iraq Threat Are Under Review by C.I.A.," New York Times, May 22, 2003.
- John David Rose, "Where are the weapons of mass destruction?" LowCountryNow.com, May 23, 2003.
- "US intelligence comes under fire," News24.com (South Africa), May 24, 2003.
- "Congress Questions 'Existence' Of Iraq's WMDs," Islam Online, May 24, 2003.
- David Pratt, "War - Was It Worth It?: al-Qaeda & terrorism," Sunday Herald, May 25, 2003.
- Jim Wolf, "U.S. Insiders Say Iraq Intel Deliberately Skewed," Reuters, May 30, 2003.
- James Dao and Thom Shanker, "Powell Defends Information He Used to Justify Iraq War," New York Times, May 30, 2003.
- Michael Duffy, "Weapons of Mass Disappearance. The war in Iraq was based largely on intelligence about banned arms that still haven't been found. Was America's spy craft wrong -- or manipulated?" Time, June 1, 2003.
- James Risen, "Iraq Arms Report Now the Subject of a C.I.A. Review," New York Times, June 3, 2003.
- "DoD Briefing on Policy and Intelligence Matters," June 4, 2003: Briefing on policy and intelligence matters. Participating were Douglas J. Feith, under secretary of defense for policy, and William J. Luti, deputy under secretary of defense for special plans and Near East and South Asian affairs.
- Eric Schmitt, "Prewar Intelligence: Aide Denies Shaping Data to Justify War," New York Times, June 5, 2003.
- David E. Sanger, "Bush Tells Troops the Truth Will Emerge About Weapons Hidden by Hussein," New York Times, June 6, 2003.
- Editorial: "Was the Intelligence Cooked?," New York Times, June 8, 2003.
- Jennifer C. Kerr, "Ex-Envoy: U.S. Twisted Iraq Intelligence," Associated Press, July 6, 2003: Envoy Joseph Wilson "sent by the CIA to Africa to investigate allegations about Iraq's nuclear weapons program contends the Bush administration manipulated his findings, possibly to strengthen the rationale for war."
- Barry Schweid, "Experts Accuse U.S. of Misrepresentation," Associated Press, July 10, 2003: "...a group of arms control experts accused the administration of misrepresenting intelligence information to justify the war."
- Tom Raum, "Rice: CIA Approved Bush Remark on Iraq," Associated Press, July 11, 2003: "...the CIA cleared Bush's State of the Union speech in its entirety, including a sentence alleging that Iraq was seeking to buy nuclear material from Africa."
- Julian Borger, "The spies who pushed for war," Guardian/UK, July 17, 2003.
- Robert Dreyfuss and Jason Vest, "The Lie Factory," Mother Jones, January 26, 2004. Extremely comprehensive article, including details leading up to the invasion of Iraq, personnel involved, and, in particular, the Office of Special Plans.
- Rahul Mahajan, "Don't Throw Me in That Briar Patch. Our True Intelligence Failure," Counter Punch, February 3, 2004.
- Knut Royce, Start-up Company With Connections. U.S. gives $400M in work to contractor with ties to Pentagon favorite on Iraqi Governing Council, Newsday, February 15, 2004:
- "Iraq's Chalabi Says 'Blame CIA, Not Me' About WMD," Reuters, March 5, 2004.
- "Panel says intelligence failure was worldwide," Associated Press (USA Today), July 1, 2004.
- Murray Waas, "Curveballs to Congress" American Prospect, July 16, 2004.
- Douglas Jehl, "Qaeda-Iraq Link U.S. Cited Is Tied to Coercion Claim," New York Times, December 9, 2005.
- Nigel Morris, "Law lords ban evidence gained under torture," Independent (UK), December 9, 2005.
- "9/11: A Special White House Slide Show," Newsweek (MSNBC), January 2, 2006.
- Murray Waas, "Cheney 'Authorized' Libby to Leak Classified Information," National Journal, February 9, 2006.
- Amy Goodman, "How Cheney 'Authorized' Libby to Leak Classified Information," Democracy Now!, February 10, 2006.
- Murray Waas, "What Bush Was Told About Iraq," National Journal, March 2, 2006.
- Murray Waas, "Insulating Bush, National Journal, March 30, 2006.
- Dan Froomkin, "A Compelling Story," White House Watch Blog/Washington Post, March 31, 2006.
- Murray Waas, "Libby Says Bush Authorized Leaks," National Journal, April 6, 2006.
- Brian Montopoli, "Pat Roberts, (Double) Standard Bearer?" CBS News (Public Eye), April 26, 2006.
- Jane Hamsher, "Murray Waas to Join Daily Kos Panel," Firedoglake Blog, May 17, 2006.
- Walter C. Uhler, "The Times Continues to Understate the Influence of Feith's 'Gestapo Office' in the Run-up to War," walter-c-uhler.com, December 3, 2006.
- Murray Waas, "CIA Leak Probe: Inside the Grand Jury Room" National Journal, Jan. 12, 2007.
- Jeff Lomonaco and Murray Waas, "The United States v. I. Lewis Libby," Union Square Press, Feb. 2, 2007.
- JoAnne Allen, "Pentagon did 'inappropriate' Iraq work, sources say," Reuters (ABC News), February 8, 2007.
- "'Very Damning' Report: Pentagon Manipulated Pre-war Intel," Associated Press (Editor & Publisher), February 9, 2007.
- Julian E. Barnes, "Pentagon aide's prewar work faulted. A Defense report says the ex-official alleged links between Al Qaeda and Iraq that didn't reflect intelligence," Los Angeles Times, February 9, 2007. re Douglas J. Feith
- "Feith 'predisposed' to link Iraq, terror," UPI, February 9, 2007.
- Robert Burns, "Pentagon Says Pre-War Intel Not Illegal," Associated Press (ABC News), February 9, 2007.
- David Morgan and Jeremy Pelofsky, "Prewar Iraq intel faulted," Reuters (ABC News), February 9, 2007.
- Tom Regan, "Pentagon: Prewar intel on Al Qaeda-Hussein link not illegal but 'dubious'. Critics call report 'damning,' but intel-wrangler Feith says he's glad he was 'exonerated'," Christian Science Monitor, February 9, 2007.
- David S. Cloud, "Inquiry on Intelligence Gaps May Reach to White House," New York Times, February 10, 2007.
- Robert Burns, "Pentagon's prewar intel 'inappropriate'," Chicago Sun-Times, February 10, 2007.
- Greg Miller, "CIA was upset by Pentagon's pre-war views. Doubts about Iraq-al-Qaida link recounted for Senate panel," Baltimore Sun, February 10, 2007.
- Greg Miller and Julian E. Barnes, "CIA doubts didn't deter Feith's team. Intelligence agencies disagreed with many of its prewar findings," Los Angeles Times, February 10, 2007.
- David Swanson, "Feith Based Intelligence" and "Truth Exposed by Senate Armed Services Hearing," Political Affairs Magazine, February 10, 2007.
- Murray Waas, "Cheney's Call," National Journal, Feb. 15, 2007.
- Murray Waas, "Libby Testimony Raises More Questions About Cheney Role," National Journal, Feb. 17, 2007.
- Sidney Blumenthal, Opinion: "Cooking the intelligence, again. The latest government estimate of the terrorist threat is just a rehash of the same old script, produced under pressure to support the president's efforts to sell the Iraq war," Salon, July 19, 2007. re al-Qaeda in Iraq
- Satyam Khanna, "National Intel Director: Bush Admin. Manipulated Iraq Intel ‘Because They Didn’t Like The Answers’," Think Progress, July 22, 2007. re Mike McConnell
- Murray Waas "Cheney's Admissions to the CIA Leak Prosecutor and FBI", Dec. 23, 2008.