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Rockefeller now criticizes bush on going to war

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U.S. intel warned of Iraq violence, says Senate committee

Rowan Scarborough, The Examiner
2007-05-29 18:13:09.0
Current rank: # 230 of 11,949
Washington DC -

A divided Senate committee said Friday that U.S. intelligence agencies warned before the war that Iraq would be gripped by violence after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, with Democrats charging that the Bush administration ignored the warnings.

The Senate Intelligence Committee cited two major prewar reports in which intelligence agencies raised the possibility of ethnic fighting, looting, an al Qaeda presence, and meddling by Syria and Iran.

"The intelligence community assessed prior to the war that establishing a stable democratic government in postwar Iraq would be long, difficult and probably turbulent challenge," the committee said.

Chairman John Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said the committee's report underscored "the tragic consequences of the administration's unwillingness to heed the prewar judgments of the intelligence community."

But Republicans stressed that the CIA and other agencies did not predict the current insurgency - the most significant development in Iraq after the U.S. ousted Saddam.

The report issued Friday was the committee's fifth since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and was notable for the increasing partisanship among panel members. The committee's first two reports were unanimous, but not the last three.

The committee's eight Democrats were joined by Sens. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine., in approving the report. Five Republicans voted no.

Committee Vice Chairman Christopher Bond, R-Mo., wrote a dissent, accusing the majority of conclusions "based on cherry-picked intelligence for political gain."

Before the March 2003 invasion, Bond said, the CIA and other intelligence agencies failed to mention the insurgency in its "key judgments" about Iraq after Saddam.

"Considering that an insurgency has become a major development in post-war Iraq, it was important to note the scarcity of its appearances in pre-war assessments," Bond said.

Failing to prepare for an insurgency has been cited by war critics as the most significant mistake in the Pentagon's war plan. Critics say the plan included too few troops to secure the country and contained no detailed political road map for bringing Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds together in a central government.

Rockefeller took President Bush to task for claiming a link between al Qaeda and Saddam to justify the war, even as Bush kept the intelligence warnings secret.

"What the administration .... kept from the American people were the sobering intelligence assessments it received at the time warning that the post-war transition could allow al Qaeda to establish the presence in Iraq and opportunity to strike at Americans it did not have prior to the invasion," Rockefeller said.

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