- The Washington Times - Friday, May 25, 2007


U.S. intelligence analysts predicted in two papers widely circulated before the 2003 Iraq invasion that al Qaeda would see U.S. military action as an opportunity to increase its operations and that Iran would try to shape the post-Saddam era.

The top analysts in government also said that establishing a stable democracy in Iraq would be a long, turbulent challenge.

Democrats said the documents, part of a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation released yesterday, make clear that the Bush administration was warned about the challenges it now faces as it tries to stabilize Iraq.

“Sadly, the administration’s refusal to heed these dire warnings — and worse, to plan for them — has led to tragic consequences for which our nation is paying a terrible price,” said Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV, West Virginia Democrat.

But some Republicans rejected the committee’s work as flawed. The committee’s top Republican, Sen. Christopher S. Bond of Missouri, said the report’s conclusions selectively highlight the intelligence agencies’ findings that seem to be important now, distorting the picture of what was presented to policy-makers.

He said the committee’s work on the Iraq intelligence “has become too embroiled in politics and partisanship to produce an accurate and meaningful report.”

Publication of the 229-page document was approved by a vote of 10-5, with two Republicans — Sens. Olympia J. Snowe of Maine and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska — joining with Democrats in the prevailing position.

Asked about the report at his Thursday press conference, President Bush stood by his decision to topple the Iraqi regime. He said he firmly believes the world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power.

“Going into Iraq, we were warned about a lot of things, some of which happened, some of which didn’t happen,” he said. “Obviously, as I made a decision … I weighed the risks and rewards of any decision.”

The investigation reviewed assessments from a number of agencies but focused on two January 2003 papers from the National Intelligence Council: “Regional Consequences of Regime Change in Iraq” and “Principal Challenges in Post-Saddam Iraq.”

Those once-classified papers drew from expertise within a number of intelligence agencies and were distributed to scores of White House, national security, diplomatic and congressional officials — most of whom were identified in the Senate report.

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