D. Alternate Analysis in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
(U) Independent of the IC's reviews of potential Iraqi links to terrorism, the Department of Defense Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (OUSDP), established a team called the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group (PCTEG) which was responsible for studying ". . . the policy implications of relationships among terrorist groups and their sources of support." Following the September 11th attacks, OUSDP brought on two individuals as consultants. According to the two consultants, their work included looking at intelligence information related to all terrorist groups, the links between them, and the roles of state sponsors.
(U) One of these consultants stated that he was told that the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and the Secretary of Defense were dissatisfied with the intelligence products they were receiving from the Intelligence Community on terrorism and linkages between terrorist groups worldwide. This individual also stated that he and a colleague had gone to the CTC and to the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) to review what work they were doing on link analysis and relationships between terrorist groups and state sponsors. They found that the analysis was not being done, and stated that they believed their requests for assistance were being ignored.
(U) When the consultants departed, in December of 2001 and January 2002, two naval reserve intelligence officers were brought in to replace them. These two officers became the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group (PCTEG). The PCTEG reviewed information more specific to al-Qaida and focused partly on al-Qaida's ties to Iraq, according to one of the PCTEG members who was interviewed by Committee staff. He stated that he believed his work with the Policy Counterterrorrism Evaluation Group was "to look at the network of al-Qaida, and that includes state sponsors, that includes front companies, relations with other terrorist groups. In effect, let's figure out what al-Qaida is. And that's what I was doing." He also stated that he was brought into the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy to "do analysis of terrorist groups, their linkages" by looking at both raw and finished IC products.
(U) The OUSDP also requested that the DIA Director detail a specific intelligence analyst to assist in a number of intelligence-related activities. That detail began in January 2002. She reviewed the CIA assessment Iraq and al-Qaida: Interpreting a Murky Relationship and other intelligence reporting. The detailee also provided assessments of the IC's analysis to policymakers in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.
(U) The Under Secretary of Defense for Policy stated in his July 2003 briefing to the Committee, "In the course of reviewing old stuff [the PCTEG] found some things that looked very interesting in the year 2002 that apparently didn't register with people or were not given great prominence either at the time or in the more recent work." The Under Secretary was referring to the work done by the DIA detailee assigned to the OUSDP's Policy Support Staff, not the PCTEG. Documents provided to the Committee by the Under Secretary indicated that the detailee found some intelligence reporting that she did not believe had been adequately incorporated into finished analysis.
(U) During an interview with Committee staff, the DIA detailee recounted that she had begun researching the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) on her own, and discovered intelligence reporting from the mid-1990s that had not been incorporated into more recent finished products. She indicated that she had accumulated this material and had passed it, with her own comments, up the OUSDP chain of command. The detailee also stated that she had taken the intelligence she had discovered to the DIA and asked that it be republished or incorporated into finished products, but that the DIA elements she contacted were not interested in the information.
(U) The detailee also reviewed the CIA's Iraq and al-Qaida: Interpreting a Murky Relationship assessment and provided her analysis of the paper. In her analysis of the assessment, the detailee stated that the CIA provided a great deal of evidence in support of a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida, but stopped short of providing the bottom line. Her analysis stated:
- The ["Murky"] report provides evidence from numerous intelligence sources over
a decade on the interactions between Iraq and al-Qaida. In this regard, the report
is excellent. Then in its interpretation of this information, CIA attempts to
discredit, dismiss, or downgrade much of this reporting, resulting in inconsistent
conclusions in many instances. Therefore, the CIA report should be read for
content only - and CIA's interpretation ought to be ignored.
(U) The DIA detailee's critique was sent by the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy to both the Deputy Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Defense.
(U) On July 22, 2002, the DIA detailee sent an e-mail to a Deputy Under Secretary for Policy recounting a meeting that day with a senior advisor to the Under Secretary. The e-mail reported that the senior advisor had said that the Deputy Secretary had told an assistant that he wanted him ". . . to prepare an intel briefing on Iraq and links to al-Qaida for the SecDef and that he was not to tell anyone about it." The e-mail also referred to "the Iraqi intelligence cell in OUSD(P)." The Under Secretary of Defense for Policy later explained to the Committee that the term "intelligence cell" referred to the PCTEG and other OSD staffers and their study of intelligence reports.
(U) Incorporating the DIA detailee's work and the analysis done by the two naval reserve officers assigned to the PCTEG, a special assistant from the Office of the Deputy Secretary of Defense created a set of briefing slides in the summer of 2002 that outlined the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) views of the relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida and criticized the Intelligence Community (IC) for its approach to the issue.
(U) The briefing slides contained a "Summary of Known Iraq - al-Qaida Contacts, 1990- 2002," including an item "2001: Prague IIS Chief al-Ani meets with Mohammed Atta in April." Another slide was entitled "Fundamental Problems with How Intelligence Community is Assessing Information." It faulted the IC for requiring "juridical evidence" for its findings. It also criticized the IC for "consistent underestimation" of efforts by Iraq and al-Qaida to hide their relationship and for an "assumption that secularists and Islamists will not cooperate." A "findings" slide summed up the Iraq - al-Qaida relationship as "More than a decade of numerous contacts," "Multiple areas of cooperation," "Shared interest and pursuit of WMD," and "One indication of Iraq coordination with al-Qaida specifically related to 9/11."
(U) One of the naval reservists from the PCTEG and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) detailee to the Policy Support Staff presented the briefing, which was developed by the special assistant from the Office of the Deputy Secretary of Defense, to the Secretary of Defense in early August 2002.
(U) After the briefing, the Deputy Secretary sent a note to the briefers, the Under Secretary and the Under Secretary's Special Advisor, which included:
- That was an excellent briefing. The Secretary was very impressed. He asked us
to think about some possible next steps to see if we can illuminate the differences
between us and CIA. The goal is not to produce a consensus product, but rather to
scrub one another's arguments. One possibility would be to present this briefing to senior CIA people with their Middle East analysts present. Another possibility would be for the Secretary and the DCI to agree on setting up a small group with our people combined with their people to work
through those points on which we agree and those points on which we disagree, and then
have a session in which each side might make the case for their assessment.
(U) On August 15, 2002, the same OUSDP briefing was presented to the DCI, the Deputy Directors for Intelligence and Operations, and a number of other CIA officials and analytic managers. The Department of Defense delegation included the Under Secretary for Policy, the two briefers, the DIA Director, the Joint Staff Director for Intelligence and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, among others. The briefing did not include the slide criticizing the IC analysis that was included in the briefing presented to the Secretary of Defense. Following the briefing, the DCI requested that the two OUSDP briefers speak with the CTC and the NESA experts on Iraq and terrorism.
(U) In a memorandum to an OUSDP official the following day, one of the PCTEG naval reserve officers wrote, "Our trip to CIA can be characterized as a success in that after our brief DCI Tenet agreed to reconsider the relationship of al-Qaida and Iraq." The reserve officer added that the DCI had agreed to postpone the release of a finished product on that subject until the CIA, DIA and the OUSDP staffers could "attempt to come to some consensus." When asked about his reaction to the briefing, the DCI stated that he "didn't think much of it" and that he "didn't see anything that broke any new ground for me."
(U) As stated in the naval reserve officer's note to his superiors, the DCI agreed to postpone publishing the CIA's more recent assessment of Iraq's links to terrorism, (Iraqi Support for Terrorism, September 2002), until analysts from the CTC, NESA, NSA, and DIA could meet with the OUSDP briefers to discuss the issue. The analysts and OUSDP staffers met on August 20, 2002. Although the analysts considered the attendance of OUSDP staffers at the meeting to be unusual, all of the meeting attendees interviewed by Committee Staff (eight of the twelve individuals) agreed that the OUSDP staffers were not given special treatment and their attendance contributed to a frank exchange of opinions.
(U) In a memorandum submitted by the two OUSDP staffers who attended the meeting, they stated "We raised numerous objections to the paper." One was that the draft "makes no reference to the key issue of Atta." In a subsequent memorandum, the DIA detailee wrote that the participants "asked me several times to prepare footnotes on the issues I disagreed with them. I refused. I said that this was not an NIE and I was an employee in Policy, not wearing an intelligence hat. I could only ask why reporting was not included in finished intelligence products and to make recommendations to include it."
(U) The same OUSDP staffers also presented their briefing to the Deputy National Security Advisor and the Vice President's Chief of Staff on September 16, two days prior to the publication of the CIA assessment Iraqi Support for Terrorism. This briefing included the slide which criticized the IC's approach to the issue that had been in the original presentation to the Secretary of Defense. In a memorandum to the Deputy Secretary of Defense the following day, the Deputy Assistant Secretary reported, "The briefing went very well and generated further interest from Mr. Hadley and Mr. Libby," who requested a number of items, including a "chronology of Atta's travels." The briefing slides presented at this briefing had been updated to incorporate information that had been included in the draft of Iraqi Support for Terrorism, which the OUSDP staffers were probably not aware of until they reviewed the draft. The slides presented additional information on the alleged meeting in Prague between September 11 hijacker Muhammad Atta and the IIS Chief in Prague, potential common procurement intermediaries shared by Iraq and al-Qaida, and other possible connections outlined in the draft CIA assessment.
(U) Though the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy stated during his July 2003 testimony to the Committee, "I asked a team to study the policy implications of relationships among terrorist groups and their sources of support," the team members interviewed by Committee staff each noted that at some point, and often predominantly, their work involved intelligence analysis. In several interviews, OUSDP staffers indicated that they reviewed both raw and finished intelligence and did undertake their own intelligence analysis after looking at IC products and discovering that what they needed had not been produced by the IC. It was not clear, however, whether the formal tasking system had been used to funnel requests to the Intelligence Community for analysis that would suit OUSDP needs.
(U) Moreover, the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy stated in his briefing to the Committee that the briefing provided to the Secretary of Defense and later the DCI and White House staff was developed by the DIA detailee to OUSDP Policy Support Staff. During interviews with Committee staff, the two individuals who briefed the Secretary of Defense and later other officials, both stated that the briefing slides were developed by a Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense.
(U) The Under Secretary of Defense for Policy's Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group (PCTEG) and the additional DIA detailee identified in this report relied on their own independent evaluations of intelligence reports in preparing their materials. Therefore, the Committee will evaluate the analytic products prepared by the OUSDP staffers on Iraq's potential links to al-Qaida as part of the second phase of this review to determine whether they were objective, reasonable, and accurate.
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