Pre-war intelligence – what we knew and what we didn’t

I’ve been reading more official and unofficial accounts of what was known before the US went to war in Iraq. I’m trying to get a better understanding of what intelligence we had which we were sure was correct, what we had that was unverified (or unverifiable), what questions were or were not asked about our sources, and more. So far, I’m finding anecdotal evidence that warnings were made about how questionable some of the pre-war intelligence used to justify the war was. But I’m also finding official reports that indicate some intelligence wasn’t properly corrborated and investigated, but nothing to indicate there were doubts raised about the sources.

This naturally raises plenty of questions: Are all the non-official sources about the state of our pre-war intelligence are now lying, or are the official documents wrong either intentionally or because the authors and investigators have been given misleading information during investigations of intelligence successes and failures? Do the people speaking outside the official report channels have true stories about what really happened with our pre-war intelligence? Have the authors of the official reports intentionally lied in their reports (note: I seriously doubt this is the case, but it is a question that must be asked if you are trying to understand what happened and what was truly known)? Were the authors of the official reports lied to by others when they were investigating what happened? Were there sources of information not consulted for the official reports, and if so, were these sources intentionally left out, unintentionally missed, or in hiding during the investigations?

Trying to understand how we ended up in Iraq matters to me. I have stated before that I feel Bush gave Americans misleading or blatently false information about the state of Iraq’s war capabilities and plans to justify the war in Iraq, either by personal choice or upon advice from his advisors. I want to become better educated so I can better express why I feel this is the case, or so I can find out how mislead our intelligence service was and admit that my beliefs on this are provably wrong.

My initial readings suggests that some people in the administration doubted much of the intelligence given during the justification of the war. However, this information often comes from sources which I feel can be expected to have bias against the President – it’s suspect, but not immediately something which should be discarded. The official reports indicate most or all of our intelligence failures were due to faulty sources or incorrect verification procedures. I’m just trying to put all the information together in a manner which satisfies my desire to understand.

Of course, I won’t ever know if I am right or wrong in my beliefs, but I expect with some research and study I will be able to make an educated statement on what happened. I will at least be better able to explain why I believe I am correct or say with reasonable conviction that I was wrong and why I believe that I was wrong. Unfortunately, there are literally thousands of pages of information about the affair, and it will take time and effort to get through enough to form a good opinion either way. Once I have a better formed opinion which has a more rational basis, I will write up some on what I find through my studies. Once I get through that, I’m going to take on learning and dissecting the Patriot Act. I still don’t like it, and want to be able to more intelligently discuss the good and bad of the act. And there’s always that secret NSA wiretapping issue I’ve harped on in the past. So much to learn, so little time.

[tags]Pre-war intelligence, The 9/11 report, What we knew before invading Iraq[/tags]