Thursday, March 31, 2005

President Bush is expected to embrace recommendations from his commission on weapons of mass destruction, which will release a report today calling on the U.S. intelligence community to ensure that dissenting views within its agencies are fully reviewed and passed up the chain of command.

The commission, appointed more than a year ago by Mr. Bush to investigate intelligence failures in Iraq, will fault prewar intelligence estimates for largely ignoring disagreements over the state of Iraq’s weapons programs, officials said yesterday.

Officials who have read the 700-page report said it contains stern warnings that major shortcomings remain within the intelligence community, especially regarding information sharing. In addition, efforts to improve the flow of dissenting intelligence still have not been fully embraced by the agencies, the officials said.

The report also recommends creating formal procedures for analysts to file dissenting views. Agency heads still would decide whether to pass along conflicting analyses, an official said.

The proposals by the commission, led by Laurence H. Silberman, an appeals court judge and former deputy attorney general, and former Sen. Charles S. Robb, Virginia Democrat, are consistent with recommendations made recently by the 9/11 commission. That panel proposed sweeping changes to the nation’s intelligence structure and the creation of a director of national intelligence (DNI) to oversee spy agencies.

“Our solution to those problems was the National Counterterrorism Center, where you would have all of these different opinions coming in on intelligence and the director of national intelligence would kind of preside over that, so I think the Silberman-Robb emphasis there is a good one,” said Lee H. Hamilton, a Democrat who served as vice chairman of the 9/11 commission.

The DNI, John D. Negroponte, will provide the president with “all of the intelligence we have,” the former Indiana congressman said. “We believe that if information is shared, you get a much higher probability of different views flowing up to the president. The status quo prior September 11 did not have that sharing of views.”

The Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction also will recommend the creation of a high-level program to halt the spread of weapons, said officials familiar with the report.

The report also singles out former CIA Director George J. Tenet for criticism, the officials said, on the condition of anonymity. One senior U.S. intelligence official said the report blames Mr. Tenet for failing to act sooner in shutting down the covert nuclear supplier network led by Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan.

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