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CIA agents urged to reveal slanted intelligence reports

©Associated Press
March 15, 2003

WASHINGTON -- A small group composed mostly of retired CIA officers is appealing to colleagues still inside the agency to go public with any evidence the Bush administration is slanting intelligence to support its case for war with Iraq.

Group members contend the Bush administration has released only information on Iraq that meets its ends, while ignoring or withholding contrary reporting.

They also say the administration's public evidence about the immediacy of Iraq's threat to the United States and its alleged ties to al-Qaida is unconvincing, and accuse policymakers of using some information that does not meet an intelligence professional's standards of proof.

"It's been cooked to a recipe, and the recipe is high policy," said Ray McGovern, a 27-year CIA veteran who briefed top Reagan administration security officials before retiring in 1990.

CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield suggested McGovern and his supporters were unqualified to describe the quality of intelligence provided to policymakers. "He left the agency over a decade ago. He's hardly in a position to comment knowledgeably on that subject."

Meanwhile, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee asked the FBI on Friday to investigate forged documents the Bush administration used as evidence against Saddam Hussein and his military ambitions in Iraq.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia said he was uneasy about a possible campaign to deceive the public about the status of Iraq's nuclear program.

An investigation should "at a minimum help to allay any concerns" that the government was involved in the creation of the documents to build support for its policies, Rockefeller wrote in a letter to FBI director Robert Mueller.

Secretary of State Colin Powell has denied the U.S. government had any hand in creating the false documents, which contend Iraq tried to buy uranium from the West African nation of Niger.

"It came from other sources," Powell told a House committee Thursday. "It was provided in good faith to the inspectors."

But Mohammed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told the U.N. Security Council that the documents were forgeries.

McGovern and his supporters acknowledge their appeal to colleagues inside the CIA and other agencies is unusual. The CIA's culture tends to keep disputes inside the family.

McGovern said his group's request, "goes against the whole ethic of secrecy and going through channels. . . . It takes a courageous person to get by all that, and say, 'I've got a higher duty.' "

Mansfield said, "Our role is to call it like we see it, to provide objective, unvarnished assessments. That's the code we live by, and that's what policymakers expect from us."

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