May 26, 2007

Report of the Select Committee on Intelligence on Prewar Assessments About Postwar Iraq

The Senate Intelligence Committee late yesterday afternoon released their review of the intelligence community's performance before the Iraq invasion in predicting the post-war ramifications of deposing Saddam Hussein.

The same studies were recently discussed here (see They Can't Say They Weren't Warned). Basically, the White House was told beforehand that we could expect all the bad things that have since happened in occupied Iraq.

Report of the Select Committee on Intelligence on Prewar Assessments About Postwar Iraq (229 page pdf).

The report declassifies and publishes in full two January 2003 National Intelligence Council (NIC) Intelligence Community Assessments (ICA): "Regional Consequences of Regime Change in Iraq" and "Principal Challenges in Post-Saddam Iraq."

There are a sizable number of excised passages in the original papers dealing with other countries in the region, the deletions being most noticeable when the subject turns to Iran's reaction to events in Iraq.

Much information is presented about the political environment in Iraq during Saddam's reign, with the conclusion that the political culture there is far from fertile ground in which to transplant democracy.

Other analysis wasn't always real accurate. Oil going up to $40 a barrel is a negative possibility foreseen in case of a cutoff of Iraqi supplies, especially -- according to the paper -- in combination with instability in Venezuela. But we are told that $15 barrels would be back as soon as the respective situations returned to normal. However, maybe the analysts were right about the basic economics, which would naturally lead to the suspicion that oil company skullduggery may be responsible for the dissonance.

In July 2002, the intelligence community held a simulation of how the post-Saddam political reconstruction might look. A long-term requirement for large numbers of U.S. forces to remain in country was envisioned. The Iraqis were seen to be focused on short-term political advantage over their rivals rather than focusing on the big picture. And the U.N. was seen as not acquiescing to U.S. plans for Iraqi political development.

After the two big ICAs (which are NIE caliber papers), there is also an Overview of Other Intelligence Assessments on Postwar Iraq, listing and summarizing various products of individual intelligence community agencies.

A CIA assessment from August 2002 entitled The Perfect Storm: Planning For Negative Consequences of Invading Iraq summed up in one handy package what could still be in store for Iraq. Intended as a worst case scenario, here are some highlights: "anarchy and territorial breakup in Iraq; instability in key Arab states; a surge of global terrorism and deepening Islamic antipathy towards the United States; major oil supply disruptions; and severe strains in the Atlantic alliance." Also, "Al Qaeda operatives take advantage of a destabilized Iraq to establish secure safe havens from which they can continue their operations", and "Iran works to install a regime friendly to ... Iranian policies." The Perfect Storm also warns of "Afghanistan tipping into civil strife as U.N. and other coalition forces are unable or unwilling to replace American military resources."

The distribution list of the two primary studies is included, attesting to the fact that this material was sent all over town.

This lengthy report tells us that a lot of effort was expended examining the likelihood that a U.S. invasion of Iraq would turn out to be detrimental to U.S. interests. The issue of whether Iraq was actually a threat was not the subject matter of these Phase II (Senate Intelligence Committee investigative terminology, as opposed to the DOD usage of Phase IV to refer to the postwar scenario) studies.

The Kerr Study Group's second report (a 2004 CIA evaluation) noted vis-a-vis these earlier studies, "Intelligence projections in this area [analysis of post-Saddam Iraq], however, although largely accurate, had little or no impact on policy deliberation."

A more damning indictment of how we got to this national nightmare would be hard to conceive.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great post!

Effwit said...

Thanks for saying so.

I can effortlessly inhale 30-40 page papers of this type, but 229 pages was just special.

And yes, I read the whole damn thing.

Meatball One said...

That Watson, shone thru!
Again, a superlicious tour de Effwit