“Office of Special Plans” cooked intelligence to justify the Iraq war

Top US spy attacks Rumsfeld – theage.com.au:

PRESIDENT George Bush’s choice to head the CIA has attacked Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for selectively using intelligence before the Iraq invasion.

General Michael Hayden told the Senate Intelligence Committee that a special intelligence unit set up by Mr Rumsfeld had disregarded intelligence that suggested there was no real connection between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.

General Hayden’s comment came during his confirmation hearing and was the first time a senior Bush Administration official had said that intelligence was selectively used to support the view that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and close links with al-Qaeda.

General Hayden, who was head of the National Security Agency at the time and No. 3 at the Pentagon behind Mr Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, startled committee members and observers with his implicit criticism of Mr Rumsfeld. Asked by senator Carl Levin, the Intelligence Committee’s ranking Democrat, whether he felt comfortable with the approach to intelligence by Mr Rumsfeld’s Office of Special Plans, General Hayden replied: “No sir, I wasn’t No sir, I wasn’t comfortable.”

The Bush Administration has consistently denied suggestions that it “cooked” intelligence to justify the Iraq war.

And it denied claims that the Office of Special Plans, which was overseen by Mr Wolfowitz and run by the then undersecretary of defence Gordon Feith, was set up to find intelligence that supported the case that Iraq had WMD and close ties with al-Qaeda.

General Hayden virtually confirmed that Mr Feith, who left the Administration last July, had discounted intelligence reports that cast doubt on the claims that Iraq had al-Qaeda connections and had exaggerated the strength of intelligence that suggested such ties might exist.

There was no reaction from Mr Rumsfeld.

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