Sunday, February 22, 2004

How to come to a pre-arranged conclusion for fun and profit 

State Dept. excluded from Senate intelligence hearing

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. State Department's intelligence branch, whose skeptical prewar assessments of Iraq's weapons programs were more accurate than other agencies' judgments, is being excluded from a panel that advises Congress each year on worldwide threats.

The State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research was not invited by Republican leaders to testify at the annual threat hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee being held Tuesday, even though the bureau has participated in the hearing every year since it began in the early 1990s, congressional and administration officials said.

The move has puzzled some Democrats on Capitol Hill, who note that postwar findings in Iraq have vindicated many of the State Department's calls.

"At the very time when I&R seems to have been right and everyone else wrong, it's at least unusual that this year for the first time they're not invited," said a congressional staffer.


Unlike the CIA or other spy agencies, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research does not collect intelligence. Rather, it undertakes independent analysis of intelligence gathered by other agencies. The bureau's main function is to advise the secretary of State, and it has long prided itself on taking independent views.

The bureau was in agreement with other agencies that Saddam Hussein's regime likely had chemical and biological weapons, but it was more skeptical that Baghdad was rebuilding its nuclear program, a claim the Bush administration made in making the case for war.

In a footnote to a multi-agency prewar assessment of Iraq's programs, the bureau called the evidence "inadequate to support such a judgment." U.S. search teams since have concluded that Baghdad's nuclear program had been largely destroyed and was nearly dormant.

Looks like the Republican Congress is taking a lesson from the Bush administration in how to get the results you want by ignoring anyone who might not agree with your predetermined outcome.



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