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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Pre-war National Intelligence Council documents available online

Washington Post writers Walter Pincus and Karen De Young detailed last Saturday that new pre-war documents released by a Senate Intelligence Panel show that the consensus view of US intelligence agencies was that a US invasion of Iraq would "be likely to spark violent sectarian divides and provide al-Qaeda with new opportunities in Iraq and Afghanistan" and "'result in a surge of political Islam and increased funding for terrorist groups" in the Muslim world."

From the Post:

In addition to portraying a terrorist nexus between Iraq and al-Qaeda that did not exist, the Democrats said, the Bush administration "also kept from the American people . . . the sobering intelligence assessments it received at the time" -- that an Iraq war could allow al-Qaeda "to establish the presence in Iraq and opportunity to strike at Americans it did not have prior to the invasion."

Most of the information in the report was drawn from two lengthy assessments issued by the National Intelligence Council in January 2003, titled "Principal Challenges in Post-Saddam Iraq" and "Regional Consequences of Regime Change in Iraq," both of which the Senate report reprints with only minor redactions. The assessments were requested by Richard N. Haass, then director of policy planning at the State Department, and were written by Paul R. Pillar, the national intelligence officer for the Near East, as a synthesis of views across the 16-agency intelligence community.

Those two documents, Principal Challenges in Post Saddam Iraq and Regional Consequences of Regime Change in Iraq, are now available online in their public, yet redacted, and in places, poorly photocopied, versions posted within a PDF published by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at their website. For a direct link to download the pdf, click here.

{Regional Consequences of Regime Change in Iraq (Appendix A) starts on page 17 of the pdf. Principal Challenges in Post Saddam Iraq (Appendix B) begins on page 55 of the pdf.}

These pdfs contain salient information not mentioned so far in the press coverage. For example, from the "Principal Challenges" doc (p. 87 of the pdf/ p. 34 of the NIC document) comes this passage detailing the extensive discussion of the role and interests of international oil companies in US considerations pre-invasion:

If a successor authority in Baghdad were perceived by investors as both politically and economically stable, Iraq's massive proven oil reserves-second only to Saudi Arabia- could be a significant lure to foreign investment. This could permit Baghdad to expand its oil output rapidly- by an average of 500,000 barrels per day (b/d) per year for several consecutive years- rivaling the recent pace of expansion in Russia and making Iraq the second largest oil exporter in the world after Saudi Arabia as early as 2005.

The biggest prizes of the Iraqi oil patch are the "giant" oilfields with recoverable reserves of more than one billion barrels each. International oil companies have expressed interest in developing seven of these fields and have signed contracts for two.

Even with the attractiveness of the Iraqi oil sector, Iraq would need a stable central government and would have to refrain from unreasonable demands on foreign oil companies to realize its full potential as an oil exporter. Iraq would be capable of about 3.1 million b/d almost indefinitely with its indigenous resources and could even expand it slowly with help from oilfield service companies. Without extensive foreign investment, however, Baghdad would be unlikely to have the financial and technical resources to reach its announced goal of 6 million b/d in capacity.

And from the Regional Consequences doc (Pgs. 26/27 of the pdf and 9/10 of the NIC document) comes this passage highlighting US advance cooperation with Middle Eastern regimes and their security forces who planned to quell public opposition to the US invasion while allowing their governments to maintain a public distance from US policy so as not to appear to be "US puppets:"

A US-led war against Iraq would precipitate immediate popular anti-US demonstrations in many countries in the region driven by perceptions that the United States was waging a broader war against Muslims and that Washington was driven primarily by motives other than reducing the security threat from Saddam Husayn. Local security forces probably would be capable of containing popular uprisings and have taken measures to increase their readiness. Some governments, however, would be more vulnerable, especially if the focus of the protests shifted from the United States to the local regime or if the United States acted unilaterally without the political cover of a UN resolution authorizing the use of force.

Recent polling data from many countries in the region reveal strong opposition to a US war in Iraq, increased anti-American sentiment, and a widespread belief that the United States is anti-Muslim.

Most governments would allow some open opposition to the war as a safety valve to deflect pressure but would act to prevent attacks against US assets or interests. Many regimes also would adjust their public postures to appear attuned to the opinion of the "street" and avoid being labelled US "puppets."

In essence, this is a window into the world view behind the "best information available" to the Senate and the President at the time of the invasion of Iraq. It is a window into how our government and intelligence agencies viewed the advance cooperation of oil companies and friendly Middle Eastern regimes whose security forces "increased their readiness" in anticipation of a US war in Iraq.

The only reason the public can read these documents is that an election in 2006 changed the make up of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence which voted to release them last week as a part of their report on Pre War Intelligence. A careful study of these and other documents produced by our government in the lead up to the war in Iraq is essential grounding for the debate in Congress over the timeline of a US withdrawal, permanent US bases in Iraq and the Iraqi Hydrocarbon law.

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1 Comments:

  • hey kid,

    'Twas nice meeting you yesterday at the Claremont lib info desk; sorry my attention got torn there. Hope those Online Resources were helpful. There are those times 3 people want/need attention at once; then there are the long stretches I'm working on projects (or, um, sampling blogs) cuz nobody comes by.

    I posted comments on DKos soon after discovering it in 2003 and I think I even diaried once or twice, soon's there were diaries. I even joined a crowd that got together at Beckett's, an Irish pub in downtown Berkeley, and met Kos and his lovely wife. Since then, though, far as DKos is concerned, I've just been a reader. I write my own blogs but they're only intermittently political.

    By Blogger Glenn Ingersoll, at 11:10 AM  

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