Was the intelligence on Iraq deliberately corrupted or was there an administrative blunder that skewed the presentations? Was there an overall rush to war after 9/11 during which period the evidence was disregarded in favor of "groupthink"? To answer these important questions, it's necessary to examine the irregularities that surrounded 9/11 and the events that led up to the War in Iraq. We will find a pattern of mismanagement, deceit, and rationalization.
The loudest and most convincing case for going to war was based on the belief that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD). United Nations weapons inspectors had been in and out of Iraq on an irregular basis for the 10 years prior to the fall of 2002 and again just months before the war. They had never found verifiable evidence of a WMD program. In November 2002 the UN team returned to Iraq headed by international expert Hans Blix. They were still unable to report with any conviction the presence of WMD.
During this period Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, was getting concerned about the lack of evidence for WMD. And he was not alone. General James Marks, in charge of ground intelligence had similar misgivings. When Rumsfeld was questioned about his uncertainty he later admitted that he was unsure. He said, "I was very worried about it" (Woodward 100). When asked if he was aware that a two star general named Spider Marks shared a similar concern about the lack of WMD evidence Rumsfeld replied, "No. I mean, we dealt with the combatant commander's people. I may have met him, but I don't know him" (Woodward 100). It may seem incredulous that in the fine tooth search for WMD, the Secretary of Defense had not talked to, and in fact did not know, the General in charge of ground intelligence. To mislead the public on this critical breakdown in communications would serve Rumsfeld no good purpose. We can only guess that the failure was due to incompetence, indifference, or 'groupthink'.
While Rumsfelds's beliefs may have clouded his objectivity, the Niger uranium connection can not be so easily dismissed. During the State of the Union address in January 2003, Mr. Bush said to the nation, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa" ("State of the Union Address"). However, the CIA had discredited this information as early as 2002 (Stein). Both the CIA and the State Department had voiced doubts about the authenticity of the documents. Yet, the information was included in the address to the public. Days before the war, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the UN Security Council held that the documents were suspect and inaccurate. The FBI would later investigate them as forgeries (Getrz).
In the days before the war, Congress raised concern over the issue of the Niger uranium connection. In a letter to President Bush dated March 17, 2003, Representative Henry Waxman wrote, "In the last ten days, however, it has become incontrovertibly clear that a key piece of evidence you and other Administration officials have cited regarding Iraq's efforts to obtain nuclear weapons is a hoax". Because Waxman could see the wheels of war beginning to spin, he closed his letter with a sense of urgency, "Given the urgency of the situation, I would appreciate an expeditious response to these questions.". Honest leaders would have provided a quick and honest reply.
The Honorable Henry Waxman would have to wait a full six weeks. On April 29, 2003 he received a letter from a low level State Department employee. It said in part, "Based on what appeared at the time