Sat, Feb 11, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Ex-CIA official faults data use before Iraq invasion

AFP , WASHINGTON

A former CIA official who coordinated US intelligence has accused the Bush administration of "cherry-picking" intelligence on Iraq to justify a decision it had already made to go to war, the Washington Post reported yesterday.

The newspaper said Paul Pillar, who was the national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia from 2000 to 2005, also accused the administration of ignoring warnings that Iraq could easily fall into chaos after an invasion to overthrow ex-Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.

"Official intelligence on Iraqi weapons programs was flawed, but even with its flaws, it was not what led to the war," Pillar wrote in the journal Foreign Affairs.

Instead, he asserted that the administration "went to war without requesting -- and evidently without being influenced by -- any strategic-level intelligence assessments on any aspect of Iraq."

Pillar said mistakes made by the US in concluding that Hussein's government possessed weapons of mass destruction did not drive the administration's decision to invade, according to the Post.

"It has become clear that official intelligence was not relied on in making even the most significant national security decisions, that intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions already made, that damaging ill will developed between policymakers and intelligence officers, and that the intelligence community's own work was politicized," Pillar wrote.

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