Posted on Saturday 30 June 2007

On Aug. 15, 2002, I presented my part of a composite Pentagon briefing on al-Qaeda and Iraq to George Tenet, then CIA director. In his recent book, "At the Center of the Storm," Tenet wrote that I said in opening remarks that "there is no more debate," "no further analysis is required" and "it is an open-and-shut case."

I never said those things. In fact, I said the covert nature of the relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda made it difficult to know its full extent; al-Qaeda’s security precautions and Iraq’s need to cloak its activities with terrorist networks precluded a full appreciation of their relationship. Tenet also got the title of the briefing wrong. It was "Assessing the Relationship Between Iraq and al-Qa’ida," not "Iraq and al-Qa’ida — Making the Case."

That day I summarized a body of mostly CIA reporting (dating from 1990 to 2002), from a variety of sources, that reflected a pattern of Iraqi support for al-Qaeda, including high-level contacts between Iraqi senior officials and al-Qaeda, training in bomb making, Iraqi offers of safe haven, and a nonaggression agreement to cooperate on unspecified areas. My position was that analysts were not addressing these reports since much of the material did not surface in finished, disseminated publications.

Tenet revealed in his book that the CIA’s terrorism analysts "believed to be credible the reporting that suggested a deeper relationship" between al-Qaeda and Iraq but that the agency’s regional analysts "significantly limited the cooperation that was suggested by the reporting." Therefore, according to Tenet, an alternative view existed within the ranks of his analysts.
A more complete understanding of Iraq’s relationship with al-Qaeda will emerge when historians can exploit the numerous seized documents free from the politics of the Iraq war. For his part, Tenet, who was at the center of the political thicket, placed himself on both sides of the issue: providing intelligence on al-Qaeda and Iraq’s relationship while at the same time inferring that no ties existed, only "concerns."

The writer was an intelligence analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency from 1984 to 2006.
Like the die-hards Douglas Feith, Laurie Mylroie, and some lesser known conspiracy theorists, Christina Shelton misses the point about the ties between Al Qaeda and Iraq. Nobody questions that bad guys in the Middle East tend to know each other, shared a hatred for Americans, etc. The point is, we were told that Saddam Hussein had his fingers in or was actually behind Al Qaeda’s attack on America. Their speculations and Cheney-esque evidence has nothing to do with the big point. We invaded Iraq saying he was involved in 911 and had atomic bombs and deadly poisons. There is no evidence that was true – any of it. Douglas Feith and Christina Shelton are evading the point that they were personally involved in our starting a war with the wrong people, for no reason, killing thousands in the process!

She says, "A more complete understanding of Iraq’s relationship with al-Qaeda will emerge when historians can exploit the numerous seized documents free from the politics of the Iraq war." What I say to her is that she’s right, we invaded Iraq based on very incomplete information. If she wants to evaluate things "free from the politics of the Iraq war," that would be fine – except she was part of those very politics. Her days in the sun passed quickly once the Bush Administration came into being, and I recommend that she enjoy her retirement from public life quietly – and anonymously…
    July 1, 2007 | 10:41 PM

    from The Progressive Daily Beacon

    In 2004 this is how the Post’s own reporter, Dana Priest, in a story that investigated the administration’s possible nefarious use of “intelligence,” explained Christina Shelton’s discovery of the debunked intelligence and, too, revealed her identity:

    “Her boss, Douglas J. Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy and the point man on Iraq, was so impressed that he set up a briefing for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who was so impressed he asked her to brief CIA Director George J. Tenet in August 2002. By summer’s end, Shelton had also briefed deputy national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley and Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby.”

    For more on Dana Priest’s 2004 report regarding Christina Shelton, click THIS LINK

    July 29, 2009 | 3:20 PM

    Old man,
    I respectfully disagree that there were no contacts worthy of concern. I am finishing up a big piece on this for based on some pretty deep interviews of main players involved.

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