The density of information and depth of reporting in Hersh's Stovepipe
in the New Yorker
The run-up to the Iraq war is exposed in harsh detail--including all the public knowledge (Cheney, Powell, Bush, Rice, and Blair's lies about the nuke threat, etc.) the semi-public (Wilson's investigation, the CIA's lapdogging) and new exposures of how deeply the administration has crushed the CIA's morale as they "stovepiped" intelligence to top W officials, sidestepping CIA reality-check filters, in order to lie to the public and rampage to war.
Everyone's in here: Thielmann, Bolton, Wolfowitz, Feith, Blair, Cheney, Chalabi, Libby, Tenet, Pollack, Yellow Cake, Wilson, Plame, SISMI, Powell, Burba, Baute, Kay...
Some samples of this 8000-word piece (emphasis mine):
The SISMI [yellow-cake] report, however, was unpersuasive. Inside the American intelligence community, it was dismissed as amateurish and unsubstantiated. ...
By early 2002, the SISMI intelligence--still unverified--had begun to play a role in the Administration's warnings about the Iraqi nuclear threat. On January 30th, the C.I.A. published an unclassified report to Congress that stated, "Baghdad may be attempting to acquire materials that could aid in reconstituting its nuclear-weapons program." A week later, Colin Powell told the House International Relations Committee, "With respect to the nuclear program, there is no doubt that the Iraqis are pursuing it."
The C.I.A. assessment reflected both deep divisions within the agency and the position of its director, George Tenet, which was far from secure. (The agency had been sharply criticized, after all, for failing to provide any effective warning of the September 11th attacks.) In the view of many C.I.A. analysts and operatives, the director was too eager to endear himself to the Administration hawks and improve his standing with the President and the Vice-President. Senior C.I.A. analysts dealing with Iraq were constantly being urged by the Vice-President's office to provide worst-case assessments on Iraqi weapons issues. "They got pounded on, day after day," one senior Bush Administration official told me, and received no consistent backup from Tenet and his senior staff. "Pretty soon you say `Fuck it.'" And they began to provide the intelligence that was wanted.
By early March, 2002, a former White House official told me, it was understood by many in the White House that the President had decided, in his own mind, to go to war. The undeclared decision had a devastating impact on the continuing struggle against terrorism. The Bush Administration took many intelligence operations that had been aimed at Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups around the world and redirected them to the Persian Gulf. Linguists and special operatives were abruptly reassigned, and several ongoing anti-terrorism intelligence programs were curtailed.
The first meeting [with Jafar Dhia Jafar, a British-educated physicist who coördinated Iraq's efforts to make the bomb in the nineteen-eighties], on April 11th, began with an urgent question from a C.I.A. officer: "Does Iraq have a nuclear device? The military really want to know. They are extremely worried." Jafar's response, according to the notes of an eyewitness, was to laugh. The notes continued:
Jafar insisted that there was not only no bomb, but no W.M.D., period. "The answer was none." . . . Jafar explained that the Iraqi leadership had set up a new committee after the 91 Gulf war, and after the unscom [United Nations] inspection process was set up. . . and the following instructions [were sent] from the Top Man [Saddam]--"give them everything."
The notes said that Jafar was then asked, "But this doesn't mean all W.M.D.? How can you be certain?" His answer was clear: "I know all the scientists involved, and they chat. There is no W.M.D."