The Washington Times
October 26, 2004
Hatchet job
By Frank J. Gaffney Jr.

For most of the 2004 campaign, Sen. John Kerry has been trying to obscure
the true nature of his proclivities on defense and foreign policy matters.
Voters have been given a timely reminder, however, by one of the Democratic
candidate's colleagues and ideological soul-mates: Sen. Carl Levin of
Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
    After all, Mr. Kerry has, according to the Wall Street Journal,
indicated that Mr. Levin might be his choice for secretary of defense should
he gain the White House. In this light, the virulently partisan attack
launched last Thursday by the Michigan Democrat on President Bush and his
administration - in the form of a preposterous screed against Undersecretary
of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith - should be seen not only as a
disqualifier for Mr. Levin's candidacy as a successor to Donald Rumsfeld. It
also speaks volumes about Mr. Kerry's judgment that he would contemplate
entrusting the Pentagon to such a left-wing ideologue.
    The essence of a report issued by Mr. Levin on Oct. 21 is that the Bush
administration engaged in the "politicization of intelligence, or, stated
another way, the shaping of intelligence to support administration policy."
It purports to "show that in the case of Iraq's relationship with al Qaeda,
intelligence was exaggerated to support administration policy aims primarily
by the Feith policy office, which was determined to find a strong connection
between Iraq and al Qaeda, rather than by the IC [intelligence community],
which was consistently dubious of such a connection."
    Lest the partisan purpose of this slander be lost on anyone, the New
York Times hyperventilated in an editorial on Saturday: "The Levin report is
a primer on how intelligence can be cooked to fit a political agenda. ...
Together with the 9/11 panel's findings and the Senate intelligence report,
[it] show that those claims were all cooked up by Mr. Feith's shop, which
knew that the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency had already shown them
to be false."
    As it happens, the aforementioned Senate Select Committee on
Intelligence (SSCI) report issued earlier this year arrived at a strikingly
different conclusion. After investigating whether pre-war intelligence had
been "cooked" by "Mr. Feith's shop" when it raised questions with the
intelligence community about evidence of ties between Saddam Hussein's Iraq
and al Qaeda, the committee unanimously declared: "The committee found that
none of the analysts or other people interviewed by the committee said that
they were pressured to change their conclusions related to Iraq's links to
    Elsewhere, the SSCI went so far as to note, "In some cases, those
[intelligence community] analysts interviewed stated that the questions had
forced them to go back and review intelligence reporting, and that during
this exercise they came across information they had overlooked in initial
readings. The committee found that this process - the policy-makers probing
questions - actually improve the Central Intelligence Agency's products."
    Interestingly, Mr. Levin joined every other member of the intelligence
committee in endorsing this report.
    Equally peculiar is the Levin charge that "the intelligence community
was consistently dubious" about a connection between Iraq under Saddam and
al Qaeda. In a letter sent on Oct. 7, 2002, by the CIA's director to the
then-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Bob Graham, George
Tenet wrote:
    "We have solid reporting of senior level contacts between Iraq and al
Qaeda going back a decade. Credible information indicates that Iraq and al
Qaeda have discussed safe haven and reciprocal nonaggression. We have
credible reporting that al Qaeda leaders sought contacts in Iraq who could
help them acquire weapons of mass destruction capabilities. The reporting
also stated that Iraq has provided training to al Qaeda members in the areas
of poisons and gases and making conventional bombs."
    In short, Mr. Feith's staff did in the run-up to war precisely what one
would expect a policy organization to do: Evaluate and, where appropriate,
challenge available intelligence about the threat that might make military
operations necessary. And, having done so - as the SSCI found, through
established channels - the Feith organization contributed accordingly to the
development of policy.
    If anything, information that has emerged from liberated Iraq has made
the Levin critique even more untenable. In the Oct. 19 edition of the New
York Sun, Laurie Mylroie noted, for example, that "an 11-page document
[found in Iraq and] dated Jan. 25, 1993, lists various organizations with
which Iraqi intelligence maintained contacts. It recommends 'the use of Arab
Islamic elements which were fighting in Afghanistan and now have no place to
go and who are currently in Somalia, Sudan and Egypt.' Saddam approved the
suggestion, with the order to 'concentrate on Somalia.' " At the time, the
network that would become known as al Qaeda was among the "Arab Islamic
elements" operating in these countries.
    The danger associated with allowing Saddam's ties to such terrorist
organizations to metastasize further is now clear as well. In the Wall
Street Journal on Oct. 14, Richard Spertzel, a former U.N. weapons inspector
and member of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), noted that the ISG uncovered a
plan concocted by Iraqi intelligence's M16 directorate "to bottle sarin [a
lethal nerve agent] and sulfur mustard in perfume sprayers and medicine
bottles which they would ship to the United States and Europe."
    The effort to smear conscientious public servants who, thankfully, did
their jobs to protect this country may fit with Mr. Kerry's anything-goes
campaign for the White House. It does not inspire confidence, however, about
either his ability to prosecute the war on terror or to select competent
people to help him do it.

Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy and a
columnist for The Washington Times.

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