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IPFS News Link • Central Intelligence Agency

Why Even Democrats Should Care About the "Cooked Intelligence" Russiagate Scandal

•, By Matt Taibbi

In the New York Times on October 5, 2002, reporter Michael Gordon authored "C.I.A. Says Iraq Revived Forbidden Weapons Programs After the U.N. Inspectors Left." It reported "a classified National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's programs to make weapons of mass destruction was provided to Congress early this week," and quoted an unclassified summary of that Estimate, or NIE, saying "although Saddam probably does not yet have nuclear weapons… he remains intent on acquiring them."

A month earlier, Gordon worked with Judith Miller to co-author what was to become an infamous article, "U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts." That piece was based on interviews with George W. Bush administration officials who previewed the public case for war, claiming "Iraq has sought to buy thousands of specially designed aluminum tubes" that "could be used to make centrifuges to enrich uranium." Miller and Gordon added that technical specifications "persuaded American intelligence experts" that the attempted tube purchases were for Iraq's nuclear program.

Both articles were important parts of the Bush administration's case for war, but the second was more impactful than the first. Everyone knew the White House was hot to take out Hussein, but news that a major intelligence report backed the administration's belief about a reconstituted Iraqi nuclear program suggested widespread agreement across government about the White House's conclusions. The CIA's "intent on acquiring them" line was critical in helping Bush build public consensus and gain congressional approval to attack. As Gordon noted, the report came at "a critical juncture in the Congressional debate over the possible use of force."

As it turned out, the 2002 NIE was a pioneering effort in a new form of executive mischief, one that wedded selective releases of classified research to suppression of dissent to build public cases for action, with secrecy rules guaranteeing long delays between initial public deceptions and later disillusioning revelations. This practice is at the center of today's Racket/Public story about how the January 6, 2017 report that "Cooked the Intelligence" to hide that Russia didn't fear a Clinton presidency, and people of all political persuasions should care about it because the corruption issue isn't partisan.