Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Conveniently buried in a story in the Washington Post entitled "Panel: Iraq Broke Limit on Missiles" is the following:

"CIA Director George J. Tenet, meanwhile, faced a storm of criticism from Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee who charged that the administration has sabotaged the U.N. weapons inspections by not fully cooperating with the United Nations. They also accused Tenet of misleading them about the intelligence on Iraqi weapons that the CIA had turned over to the inspections teams."

On Tuesday, February 11, Tenet had told the Senate intelligence committee that the CIA "had given U.N. inspectors all the information it had on weapons sites of 'high' and 'moderate' interest, meaning those sites that are likely to contain weapons or remnants of weapons." On Thursday, February 13, Tenet told the Senate Armed Services Committee that there are "one handful of sites which may not have been known" to the U.N. inspectors. In other words, the United States bases its attacks on the inspection process on the basis that it is doomed to fail, claims that it is providing all the information it has to assist the inspectors, and now has admitted that it has lied and is holding back information. Sen. Carl Levin referred to classified letters from the CIA dated January 24 and 28 in which the CIA said it had not shared information about what he characterized as "a large number of sites of significant value". It is impossible to overstate the significance of this. The American position is that a rigorous system of inspections cannot disarm Iraq sufficiently for Iraq to be in compliance with UN Resolution 1441, and that therefore war is necessary, but has now admitted that the CIA has held information back from the inspectors (and has lied in stating that it has not held back such information). How can the Americans know that the inspection process won't work if they are tying the hands of the inspectors by holding back information? The inspection process can only operate if the inspectors are in a position to cross-examine Iraqi officials using information that the officials don't know the inspectors have. It is only if the Iraqis are aware that their attempts at deceiving the inspectors may reveal that they have failed to comply with the UN Resolution that they will be forced to make full disclosure. It is abundantly clear that the United States is doing everything in its power to sabotage the inspection process so that it may use its allegations that the process has failed to call for war.