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Archive for Friday, February 9, 2007

Report: Pentagon prewar probe legal

February 9, 2007

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— Some of the Pentagon's prewar intelligence work, including a contention that the CIA underplayed the likelihood of al-Qaida connections to Saddam Hussein, was inappropriate but not illegal, a Defense Department investigation has concluded.

In a report to be presented today to Congress, the department's inspector general said former Pentagon policy chief Douglas J. Feith had not engaged in illegal activities through the creation of special offices to review intelligence. Some Democrats also have contended that Feith misled Congress about the basis of the administration's assertions on the threat posed by Iraq, but the Pentagon investigation did not support that.

Two people familiar with the findings discussed the main points Thursday on condition they not be identified.

The Senate Armed Services Committee has scheduled a hearing today to receive the findings by Thomas F. Gimble, the Pentagon's acting inspector general. The committee's chairman, Carl Levin, D-Mich., has been a leading critic of Feith's role in prewar intelligence activities and has accused him of deceiving Congress.

Levin has asserted that President Bush took the country to war in Iraq based in part on intelligence assessments - some shaped by Feith's office - that were off-base and did not fully reflect the views of the intelligence community.

In an interview Thursday, Levin said the inspector general's report is "very damning" and shows a Pentagon policy shop trying to shape intelligence to prove a link between al-Qaida and Saddam.

Levin in September 2005 asked the inspector general to determine whether Feith's offices' activities were appropriate.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., who was chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee at the time, separately asked the inspector general to decide on legality as well as appropriateness.

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