ROCKEFELLER: THE FISH STINKS FROM THE HEAD
Now, the report does an excellent job of pointing out the intelligence community's shortcomings. I have to say it is only an incomplete picture of what occurred during the national debate over the decision to invade Iraq. The report we are releasing today is a first phase of the two- part committee investigation. Regrettably, whereas I consider reform incredibly important, I also consider the nature of the interaction or the pressure or the shaping of intelligence by endless numbers of public statements emanating from all levels high up in the administration, virtually saying that, Time has run out, you know, mushroom cloud, grave and growing, imminent by some, evidence supports the fact that they are developing their nuclear weapons program -- all the rest of it.
That whole aspect is being relegated to the second part of our report and I regret that. I felt that we should and could have addressed all of these matters as a single matter, because under the rules of the committee we can do that. But that was not possible and so we moved forward. We've moved forward and produced a very good piece of work. The central issue of how intelligence on Iraq was, in this senator's opinion, exaggerated by the Bush administration officials was relegated to that second phase, as yet unbegun, of the committee investigation, along with other issues.
We've done a little bit of work on the number three guy in the Defense Department, Douglas Feith, part of his alleged efforts to run intelligence past the intelligence community altogether, his relationship with the INC and Chalabi, who was very much in favor with the administration wanting them to come on in. And was he running a private intelligence failure, which is not lawful. As a result, the committee's report fails to fully explain the environment of intense pressure in which the intelligence community officials were asked to render judgments on matters relating to Iraq when the most senior officials in the Bush administration had already forcefully and repeatedly stated their conclusions publicly.
It was clear to all of us in this room who were watching that, and to many others, that they had made up their mind that they were going to go to war....
The national intelligence estimate was given to us, at our request -- at the request of the Senate Intelligence Committee, about 10 days before the vote came. It was done in three weeks. It was thrown together. It was based upon fragmentary intelligence, ancient intelligence. And then there was this enormous difference between the classified version, where all kinds of doubts and caveats were included, and then the white paper, which was the unclassified version, which all of a sudden everything moved in one direction toward, They've got them, they're ready to use them, and watch out.
I don't think that was an accident. Let me just finish by saying, again, an emphasis on this relentless public campaign prior to the war, which repeatedly characterized the Iraqi weapons program in more ominous and threatening terms than any intelligence would have allowed. In short, we went to war in Iraq based on false claims.
--Jay Rockefeller, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, at a news conference with Chairman Pat Roverts to discuss the committee's report on pre-war intelligence on Iraq