What People Wanted to Believe of Hussain Regime

The 2003 invasion and subsequent war of Iraq was a significant departure from typical United States (U.S) foreign policy, and history has shown this was not the first time. There have been other events, such as Vietnam, that were the brainchild of some members of the executive branch with no dissenting opinion from others. They crafted their grand strategy for action that was counter to what much of the intelligence community was telling them and those in the legislative branch. Like Vietnam, the policymakers in the U.

S knew very little about the country.

There was little understanding of its history, culture or regional and religious conflicts. Unlike Vietnam where the goal was to ensure a free, independent non-Communist South Vietnam the concern that Saddam Hussein had nuclear, chemical and biological was the main reason for going into Iraq. Was There a Lack of Intelligence? After the events of September 11, 2001, it was discovered that the intelligence community did not do an excellent job of connecting the dots in detecting the attacks.

The lead up to Iraq was the complete opposite, where dots were connected to the point they made connections where they did not exist thus creating a story that was not accurate. The Bush administration was operating with minimal intelligence information when it began to consider the invasion of Iraq. After 1998 the U.S did not have a single human intelligence source that was collecting against the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program in Iraq, but the intelligence community had human intelligence on other subjects within the country.

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There was inherent difficulty of intelligence collection in Iraq, the general difficulty of leadership intentions, and the fact that intelligence was almost entirely dependent on others for intelligence collection and some assessments. Other counties had sources of human intelligence within Iraq, but many of their reports proved to be false. This lack of spies inside Iraq forced the Bush administration to rely on defectors, detainees, opposition groups and foreign government services. Also, there was a decent amount of intelligence that was derived from reconnaissance systems. An over-reliance on debatable imagery collapses in communication between analysts and collectors resulted in errors in any technical intelligence collection and signals intelligence was woefully inadequate. Due to the lack of adequate collection, it has been argued that the estimate made was the proper one to build from the evidence available at the time.

The study into cognitive psychology shows that once people have opinions and beliefs about something they seek out any information to confirm what they already believe to be true and discount or dismiss any information that discredits what they believe or think. Richard Betts believes that the conclusion was deduced from Iraqi behavior and the motives that appeared to be consistent with that behavior.

To individuals who were paying attention to what was going in the Middle East and the issue, the assumption seemed completely apparent from the amassed explanations and observation of the prior decade. Also, at the time, most of intelligence services in various countries came to the same conclusion. In late 2002 George Tenet had written a letter to Congress where he stated that “that Saddam Hussein was unlikely to initiate a WMD attack against any U.S target unless Washington provoked him.” It is well documented that following the Persian Gulf War, the Iraqi government instructed for WMD activities to be concealed from United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) inspectors after being caught pursuing prohibited activities.

After the Persian Gulf War, the Iraqi government openly admitted to having stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons and later claimed to destroy them without providing any credible evidence of the stockpiles destruction. A commission to investigate these actions concluded that “When someone acts like he is hiding something, it is hard to entertain the conclusion that he has nothing to hide.” The denial and deception of the Iraqi government lent credence to the thought that the country’s WMD program were thriving.

The conclusion that Iraq was hiding active and thriving WMD program was primarily made from the consistent obstruction of UNSCOM and lack of accountability of the stockpiles known to exist in 1991. There was no substantial and direct evidence, nor highly reliable direct evidence to back this conclusion up. After Hussein Kamel, Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law defected he explained to those debriefing him that Iraq’s WMD program were not much and that a lot of the stockpiles they had were destroyed. Regardless of this insider information many still believed that the program was viable and growing.

The disregard for his report was one of the most significant examples of how contrary evidence was unheeded. The Bush administration “went to war without entreating … any strategic-level intelligence calculations on any aspect of Iraq.” Leading up to the Iraq war the assessments of Iraq’s WMD programs created division within the intelligence community concerning if the program was robust, consisted of only small parts of a program or even what role aluminum tubes played in a potential nuclear program. Overall these divisions of thought did not sufficiently alter the overarching view to the potential that Iraq had an actual atomic capability.

The administration and some within the intelligence community thought they had solid human intelligence in the form of CURVEBALL, a source that was under German control. His reporting later proved to be fabricated, and various agencies continued to use his reporting to support their intelligence reporting even after his reporting was recalled and disproven. At the time the National Intelligence Estimate for Iraq was being written it was believed that at least two other sources substantiated CURVEBALL’s story.

However, one was already a known prevaricator by those in the Defense Intelligence Agency, and another source renounced his allegations. It was not until a full year after the U.S military went into Iraq that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) deemed the reporting from CURVEBALL as fictitious. Intelligence provided by the Iraqi National Congress also came into play. The National Congress was well known for releasing information to serve their agenda and was not vetted nor evaluated. Regardless this information made its way into official channels in the Pentagon and was utilized to rationalize the Iraq War.

Linking International Terrorism with Saddam Hussein

Another path the administration took to garner support for going into Iraq was to attempt to link Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda and the attacks of September 11, 2001. The case for war put forward by the Bush administration rested on the establishment of Iraq as an imminent threat to the U.S national security, which could only be lessened by attacking Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein’s regime.

The administration suggested the idea that terrorist groups, such as Al-Qaeda, would get their hands on WMD from Saddam Hussein to use them on the U.S or our allies. Limited intelligence purportedly showed that the reconstitution of a nuclear weapons program was going in Iraq and that the regime had links to affiliates of Al-Qaeda who could help provide supplies and weapons to use against the West. When you step back and look at this, it is evident that this way of thinking is flawed since Al-Qaeda is made up of Islamic extremists and their beliefs were the opposite of what the Ba’ath Party believed.

The leader of Al-Qaeda at the time; Osama bin Laden, had a deep hatred for the ‘infidel’ and secular regime of Saddam Hussein. Osama hated Saddam as much as he hated the U.S. Saddam Hussein feared fundamentalist Islamic rebellions and regimes as much as the U.S does. Saddam thought that the attacks on the U.S would draw them closer to Iraq rather than farther apart as he saw it as both countries had a common enemy.

Saddam had hoped that the U.S would reach out for his secular government to assist in fighting back against Wahhabism. He saw Sunni extremism as a significant threat to his power base. John Nixon concluded that Saddam identified the disease but came up short on the treatment. Instead of embracing Saddam the government of the U.S had decided he needed to be overthrown and grew tired of tolerating him.

Contrary to this thinking some analysts in the intelligence community believed that if Al-Qaeda were to acquire WMD, they would get them from sympathizers in Pakistan or any unsecured armaments left over from the former Soviet Union. Rush to Judgement? To possibly help the case for war and to tie Saddam’s regime to international terrorism, the Counterterrorism Center (CTC) wrote a paper linking the two together. This publication was highly controversial and circulated by the CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence leading up to the Iraq War.

The release contained sloppy reporting full of holes, highly inaccurate and had “pie-in-the-sky” examination. The CTC believed it all and reviewers were given a short timetable, approximately three hours, to review it before it was sent to the White House. The National Intelligence Council was unable to send out the draft National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) to the community for comment or peer review as they were under pressure to finish the estimate by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

There was a significant issue as the community did not have any hard evidence that chemical and biological weapons had been retained or manufactured by Iraq. Regardless the NIE went forward for publication. Furthermore, any previously unreleased material dealing with Iraq and terrorism was given a cursory review and released in official channels as solid intelligence. Much of the information was previously withheld due to questions of its veracity and credibility.

Mel Goodman, a former senior CIA analyst, professor of International Security at the National War College, and Senior Fellow at the Center for International Policy once stated, “It was phony evidence, it was based on intelligence we had from Iraqi exiles who wanted this country to attack Iraq, so these people could then take over in Baghdad and establish their regime.” Another way the President Bush administration tried to connect Islamic fundamentalists to Saddam’s regime was showing how terrorists trained in northern Iraq without interference from the Iraqi government.

The training camps did exist, and there was credible intelligence to back this up. It was also known that Saddam did not have much control over northern Iraq due to the no-fly-zones enforced by the U.S and other nations. As previously stated, such an alliance would have been highly improbable between Al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. Was the Intelligence Politicized? A significant question that confronted the intelligence community and Congress was whether or not the intelligence was politicized. It is vitally important for policymakers to be able to trust the professionalism of all analysts within the intelligence community.

In the intellingece community there is one accusation that bears more weight than just about any other you can think of and that is the claim that your analysis and reporting is tainted by political considerations and influence. Shortly after being elected president, George Bush was given a tutorial in Islam. When the analyst started to get into the schism between Sunni and Shia beliefs, John Nixon said that the president-elect stated “Wait.

I thought you said they were all Muslims?” Instead of further educating the chief executive on Islam, John Nixon wrote that leadership within the Central Intelligence Agency played into the president-elects’ ignorance and gave him more “opportunity analysis” to cater to his want to figure out how to deal with Saddam Hussein. President Bush it seemed to many wanted to outdo his father and one way to do that was to remove Saddam from power. This, as well as other events, raised questions about the intelligence that was used leading up and in the early stages of the Iraq War. When faced with a choice between being overly close or distant to policymakers it is preferable to choose the later.

The relationship between President George W. Bush and his Director of Central Intelligence at the time was controversial for how close they seemed. The intelligence the CIA provided leading up to the Iraq War raised concerns that objectivity within the CIA had been lost. As time went on it started to become apparent to some at the headquarters for the CIA that decision-makers in the White House favored any interpretation of the intelligence concerning Iraq programs dealing with WMD that supported their agenda. In the aftermath of the start of the Iraq War, many committees were formed in the U.S, the United Kingdom (U.K), and Australia.

Upon completion of their investigation, their report was incessant in censure. The Committee found that groupthink was a significant problem in the Iraq analysis, along with a failure to examine previously held premises. Other investigations found there was a lack of challenges to the intelligence reports, norms, and the issue was looked at in isolation. A committee in U.K discovered that the information coming from their sources in Iraq had grown weaker and not as consistent over time. They also found that this growing weakness and dependability of reporting was not relayed adequately to those who needed to know.

Between the investigations in Austraila, U.K and the U.S did not find that the intelligence was politicized but all reports were very critical of the analysis. It was later known that Bush would have gone into Iraq even if he knew they did not have WMD, he had other personal reasons for going in. Some lessons from the Iraq WMD failure are to be careful not to share information that is not credible and seems dubious.

Do not connect too many dots thus creating a false worldview. Another lesson is to no raise the warning flags about something unless you are entirely sure what you hear and see is real. Still be cautious but not extravagant with your warnings. Intelligence is not a substitute for policy analysis; policymakers must, therefore, consider other providers of information, and use their own experience and insights before making judgments. It is fair to say that the intelligence failure, though tragic, was not egregious. It was a failure both in collection and analysis. The most fundamental obstacle to success in the estimate was that “it is particularly difficult for analysts to get it right when the truth is implausible.”

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What People Wanted to Believe of Hussain Regime. (2021, Dec 13). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/what-people-wanted-to-believe-of-hussain-regime/

What People Wanted to Believe of Hussain Regime
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