From a document penned by Stu Cohen, an intelligence professional with 30 years of service in the CIA. He was acting Chairman of the National Intelligence Council when the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction was published.
The October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) has been dissected like no other product in the history of the US Intelligence Community. We have reexamined every phrase, line, sentence, judgment and alternative view in this 90-page document and have traced their genesis completely. I believed at the time the Estimate was approved for publication, and still believe now, that we were on solid ground in how we reached the judgments we made.
I remain convinced that no reasonable person could have viewed the totality of the information that the Intelligence Community had at its disposal—literally millions of pages—and reached any conclusions or alternative views that were profoundly different from those that we reached. The four National Intelligence Officers who oversaw the production of the NIE had over 100 years’ collective work experience on weapons of mass destruction issues, and the hundreds of men and women from across the US Intelligence Community who supported this effort had thousands of man-years invested in studying these issues.
Let me be clear: The NIE judged with high confidence that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons as well as missiles with ranges in excess of the 150 km limit imposed by the UN Security Council, and with moderate confidence that Iraq did ***not ***have nuclear weapons. These judgments were essentially the same conclusions reached by the United Nations and by a wide array of intelligence services—friendly and unfriendly alike. The only government in the world that claimed that Iraq was not working on, and did not have, biological and chemical weapons or prohibited missile systems was in Baghdad. Moreover, in those cases where US intelligence agencies disagreed, particularly regarding whether Iraq was reconstituting a uranium enrichment effort for its nuclear weapons program, the alternative views were spelled out in detail. Despite all of this, ten myths have been confused with facts in the current media frenzy. A hard look at the facts of the NIE should dispel some popular myths making the media circuit.
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– Mark L. Chance.