So I've been wondering--and wondering--what caused the change between the classified version of the intel community's official assessment of Iraq in 2002 and unclassified version released just a month or so later that was sexed up. (I'm also curious why this angle isn't getting more attention from reporters.) Was it pressure from the WH? Is so, was it implicit or explicit (which, btw, i think is a significant distinction)?
While President Bush marshals congressional and international support for invading Iraq, a growing number of military officers, intelligence professionals and diplomats in his own government privately have deep misgivings about the administration's double-time march toward war.
These officials charge that administration hawks have exaggerated evidence of the threat that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein poses -- including distorting his links to the al-Qaida terrorist network -- have overstated the amount of international support for attacking Iraq and have downplayed the potential repercussions of a new war in the Middle East.
They charge that the administration squelches dissenting views and that intelligence analysts are under intense pressure to produce reports supporting the White House's argument that Saddam poses such an immediate threat to the United States that pre-emptive military action is necessary.
"Analysts at the working level in the intelligence community are feeling very strong pressure from the Pentagon to cook the intelligence books," said one official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
A dozen other officials echoed his views in interviews.
No one who was interviewed disagreed.
Media crit moment: Imagine for a moment if Knight Ridder hadn't this run back in 2002--and instead it had been broken by the New York Times. [Thus ends my pedantic NYT-bashing moment.]