On Saturday, 9 September 2006, Washington Post staff writer Walter Pincus reported on the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s recently released review of pre-war intelligence on Iraq in an article titled, “Report Details Errors Before War.” Excerpt:
The long-awaited Senate Intelligence Committee report released yesterday sheds new light on why U.S. intelligence agencies provided inaccurate prewar information about Saddam Hussein and his weapons programs, including details on how Iraqi exiles who fabricated or exaggerated their stories were accepted as truthful because they passed Pentagon lie detector tests.
The two newly declassified chapters of the report fueled political accusations yesterday that the Bush administration lied to justify invading Iraq, but the documents’ nearly 400 pages contain several examples of how bad information wound up accepted as truthful in intelligence assessments at the time.
A section includes the results of an evaluation by the CIA of its performance, which concludes that, despite repeated prewar assessments that the Iraqis were practicing deceit and deception to hide their weapons, there actually were no such efforts because there were no weapons.
The CIA concludes: “There comes a point where the absence of evidence does indeed become the evidence of absence.” That statement is a play on a remark Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld made frequently in the months before the war — after U.N. inspectors in late 2002 and early 2003 could find no weapons — that “the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”
One 208-page chapter from the Senate committee report covers the use of intelligence provided by the Iraqi National Congress and its leader, Ahmed Chalabi. The panel wrote that three Iraqi exiles gave the Pentagon inaccurate information about Hussein’s alleged training of al-Qaeda terrorists, as well as about the existence of mobile biological weapons factories and an alleged meeting between the Iraqi leader and Osama bin Laden. All three exiles passed lie detector tests given by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), adding credibility to their stories.
In each case, the information proved to be questionable, if not inaccurate….
One of the three polygraph-passing fabricators, identified as Source Two in the report, The Use by the Intelligence Community of Information Provided by the Iraqi National Congress (9.5 mb PDF), is former Iraqi army major Mohammad Harith, who has been previously discussed on AntiPolygraph.org in the message board thread, Iraqi Fabricator Passed Polygraph.
It should be noted that former DIA employee Ana Belen Montes, a Cuban double agent who penetrated the agency and rose to become the Pentagon’s senior analyst on matters related to Cuba, passed at least one polygraph screening examination while spying for Cuba.