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New York Times Studies Iraqi Aluminum Cylinders

A huge article in today’s New York Times, “How the White House Used Disputed Arms Intelligence,” describes at length how the Bush administration used questionable analysis of intelligence to support its plan to invade Iraq. The White House knew that there was disagreement within the Intelligence Community about what Iraq intended to do with the aluminum tubes, but chose to ignore the disagreement and use only the interpretation that the tubes were intended to be used only in centrifuges for uranium enrichment. According to the article, this administration interpretation was mainly supported only by one junior analyst at CIA, and was opposed by analysts at the Department of Energy who had the most expertise on the subject.

The article is a strong indictment of the current intelligence structure, because George Tenet, the then-Director of Central Intelligence, claimed that he had no role in settling this dispute between intelligence organizations, despite the fact that this dispute was intimately related to the US decision to go to war with Iraq.

In addition, experts at the IAEA (the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency) also strongly discounted the CIA interpretation. According to the article, when the CIA analyst championing the nuclear use went to Vienna to make his presentation to the IAEA, the presentation was a disaster.

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