DENUCLEARIZATION DESIGN                    Document & Study Guide






The Issue: How did the United States launch the 2003 Iraq War, if there were no nuclear weapons or other ŒWMD¹ in Iraq?



Did US intelligence fail to assess well‹adequately and accurately‹the capabilities and intentions of Iraq? Or was the process distorted to bring the analyses into correspondence with already-decided GW Bush administration aims?

   The Republican position, widely articulated in 2003 and 2004, has been that GW Bush and other policy-makers were misled by error and inadequacy in the intelligence provided them. One ostensible reason, then, for Œreform¹ of the US intelligence system, and especially the Central Intelligence Agency, was to prevent future bad intelligence. [The 9.11 Commission also called for thoroughgoing organizational reform of US intelligence and put a premium on Œsharing¹ among US intelligence agencies.] But was there also sound skepticism among CIA analysts concerning the 2001-2003 presumptions of US Iraq policy? Some commentators on sweeping personnel changes, which followed Porter Goss¹ naming as Director of the CIA, saw a comprehensive move to suppress those within the CIA whose analyses did not conform to the dispositions and policy intentions of the GW Bush administration: in effect, Œtaming¹ the CIA.

Critics of the standard Republican story point to

€  long Department of Defense reliance on Ahmed Chalabi and informants introduced by him, despite his having been rejected years before by the CIA;

€  the Cheney-Rumsfeld dismissal of UNMOVIC and IAEA inspectors and inspections;

€  Rumsfeld¹s adamant insistence that a small force would be sufficient and that US forces would be welcomed;

€ White House use of discredited claims concerning Œuranium from Niger¹ and the Œaluminum tubes¹, and the White House¹s repeating unsound British claims that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons they could ³deploy in 45 minutes² ;

€  Cheney¹s and Rumsfeld¹s insistence there were significant ties between Saddam Hussein¹s Iraq and Œterrorists¹, despite absence of evidence; and to

€  the inability of the White House to present unambiguous evidence, to the public or to other governments, of Iraqi Œweapons of mass destruction¹ or ongoing programs to obtain them.


In short, critics argue that whatever the shortcomings in intelligence, it was the White House and Department of Defense which wanted war with Iraq and abused intelligence to silence Congress. Either Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld failed to apply skeptical tests required before choosing war, or they recklessly disregarded the role of facts, in service of a higher cause.






The Documents


1992.03.11     The Washington Post reports the existence of a draft Defense Planning Guidance, which includes several possible war scenarios, including war against Iraq.[1]


                    The Washington Post summarises that the report ³contemplates use of American military power to preempt or punish² use of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons‹then directly quoting the text‹³even in conflicts that otherwise do not directly engage U.S. interests.² The Pentagon sought to dismiss the text as a draft.


1998.01.26     A private letter to President Clinton urging Saddam Hussein¹s ³removal from power.²


                    This letter advances a case for Clinton to ³act decisively² to bring about ³the removal of Saddam Hussein¹s regime from power.² Not to do so is to ³accept a course of weakness and drift.² The letter¹s significance lies in the signers, among them a number who hold positions in or near the GW Bush administration: Elliott Abrams, John Bolton, Zalmay Khalilzad, Richard Perle, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and R. James Woolsey. The writers utter a number of the arguments which were to echo in 2002 and 2003. ŒContainment¹ of Saddam is eroding. Even if weapons inspections were resumed ³experience has shown that it is difficult if not impossible to monitor Iraq¹s chemical and biological weapons production.² ³Given the magnitude of the threat, the current policy Š is dangerously inadequate.²


The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. Š In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action Š [2]




2000.08         Project for a New American Century. ³Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century.² [3]


                    This document lays out a plan for future US policy, in which Iraq is mentioned 25 times in 90 pages. It argues, for example, that


                          the United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein. Š We cannot allow North Korea, Iran, Iraq or similar states to undermine American leadership, intimidate American allies or threaten the American homeland itself. The blessings of the American peace, purchased at fearful cost and a century of effort, should not be so trivially squandered.




2002.08.        Carnegie Endowment for International Peeace. ³Iraq: A New Approach.²




2002.08.26     Vice President ŒDick¹ Cheney Speaks to 103rd National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.[4]


                    Cheney flatly declares that ³The Iraqi regime has in fact been very busy enhancing its capabilities in the field of chemical and biological agents. And they continue to pursue the nuclear program they began so many years ago. Š Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.²


2002.10.04     United States. Central Intelligence Agency. ³Iraq¹s Weapons of Mass Destruction Program.²




                    This National Intelligence Estimate, put together in a few short weeks, was delivered to the Congress and public (in an abbreviated unclassified summary), and to the White House (in a more complete secret version). In the course of public debate about the war in 2003 the Administration was brought to disclose that the complete version included a number of registered dissents, not previously acknowledged. [This well-illustrated overview covers much the same ground as the 24 September 2002 British dossier.] GW Bush¹s Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction took this document as the subject of a Œcase study¹.



2002.10.11 United States. Congress.  ³Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002.² Public Law 107-243‹October 16, 2002.




                    Issues concerning Congress¹ grant of authority to undertake war in Iraq are canvassed in Bruce D. Larkin, ³The Iraq War of 2003 and the Politics of Denuclearization,² for which the URL is at the end of this guide.



2002.11.08 United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441. S/RES/1441 (2002).




2003.01.27     United Nations. Transcript of Statement by Hans Blix to the United Nations Security Council, 27 January 2003. Transcript of Statement by Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, to the UN Security Council, 27 January 2003.  The New York Times, 28 January 2003.


2003.02.05 US Secretary of State Colin Powell presented to the UN Security Council the Administration case that Iraq was in breach of UN resolutions. [Some of the assertions he made were later shown to be wrong.]





2003.01.30     In a memorandum of this date, a US National Security Agency official called for intensified surveillance of UN Security Council member states¹ delegations¹ communications. A copy to NSA¹s British counterpart, GCHQ, was leaked by a GCHQ employee, and Ms. Katherine Gun was charged.[5] Correspondents Martin Bright and Peter Beaumont wrote, in part:


                              Translators and analysts at the Government's top-secret surveillance centre GCHQ were ordered to co-operate with an American espionage 'surge' on Security Council delegations after a request from the US National Security Agency at the end of January 2003. This was designed to help smooth the way for a second UN resolution authorising war in Iraq.


                                             The information was intended for US Secretary of State Colin Powell before his presentation on weapons of mass destruction to the Security Council on 5 February.


                                             Sources close to the intelligence services have now confirmed that the request from the security agency was 'acted on' by the British authorities. It is also known that the operation caused significant disquiet in the intelligence community on both sides of the Atlantic.


2003.03.17     Notified by the United States that war is impending, the United Nations and IAEA withdraw the UNMOVIC and IAEA inspectors from Iraq after a stay of about four months.



2003.03.19 United States launches war against Iraq.


2003.10.02      US. Central Intelligence Agency. Statement by David Kay on the Interim Progress Report on the Activities of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) Before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Defense, and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. [Kay Report]


2004.09.30     US Central Intelligence Agency. Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the DCI on Iraq¹s WMD. Charles Duelfer, Special Advisor to the Director of Central Intelligence.


                    This report, the final report of the Iraq Survey Group, follows David Kay¹s interim report of 2 October 2003. The Iraq Survey Group found no evidence of significant chemical or biological agents, no evidence of nuclear weapons, and no evidence of ongoing programs to make or acquire BW, CW, or nuclear weapons.




2005.03.31      Report. Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, appointed by GW Bush to assess the abilities of US intelligence to ³collect, process, analyze and disseminate information concerning the capabilities, intentions and activities of foreign powers.² The co-chairmen are Laurence H. Silberman and Charles S. Robb. In its covering letter to GW Bush the Commission writes:


                     We conclude that the Intelligence Community was dead wrong in almost all of its pre-war judgments about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. This was a major intelligence failure. Its principal causes were the Intelligence Community's inability to collect good information about Iraq's WMD programs, serious errors in analyzing what information it could gather, and a failure to make clear just how much of its analysis was based on assumptions, rather than good evidence. On a matter of this importance, we simply cannot afford failures of this magnitude.


                     After a thorough review, the Commission found no indication that the Intelligence Community distorted the evidence regarding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. What the intelligence professionals told you about Saddam Hussein's programs was what they believed. They were simply wrong.


                     The Commission¹s report, then, conforms to a reading of the events which supports the canonical defenses long constructed by the White House and Pentagon: first, that the gap between their insistence on war and the facts on the ground was someone else¹s fault; and, second, that the messages all ran from the Œintelligence community¹ upward, without any distortion as a result of preconceived policy running from the White House and Pentagon downward. The Commission insists that it dealt thoroughly with the issue of alleged influence, but a thorough assessment of the Commission¹s report will need to address a number of subjects, and other evidences, which the Commission does not discuss. The press conference transcript cited below contains this statement of fact:


QUESTION: Could your report be read as an exoneration of the president¹s use of the intelligence, or did you not tackle that question?


SILBERMAN: We did not -- our executive order did not direct us to deal with the use of intelligence by policymakers, and all of us were agreed that that was not part of our inquiry.


                     A preliminary view by New York Times journalists, based on interviews with sources who said they had read the executive summary and the full (secret) report:




                     Transcript of press conference by GW Bush, Laurence H. Silberman and Charles S. Robb, introducing the report:




                The unclassified version of the report:




Also See


2002.12.08     Bruce D. Larkin, ³Iraq: Go to War? and the Nuclear Question.²





2003.11.17         Bruce D. Larkin, ³The Iraq War of 2003 and the Politics of Denuclearization.²






Version:  31 March 2005. Global Collaborative on Denuclearization Design



[1]           The Washington Post, 11 March 1992.

[2]           Ibid.

[3]           The authors stipulate that the report ³does not necessarily represent the view of the project participants.² Among participants is Paul Wolfowitz, US Undersecretary of Defense 2001-2005 and US nominee to be head of the World Bank.



[5]                The Observer, 8 February 2004.