Magazine article Newsweek

Intel Probe: Uncollegial Committee

Magazine article Newsweek

Intel Probe: Uncollegial Committee

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Hosenball

The collegial traditions of the Senate Intelligence Committee are being tested by the inquiry into the Bush administration's handling of prewar intel. Last year, in a bipartisan report, the committee found that while prewar U.S. intelligence on Iraqi weapons programs was flawed, intel officials had not been pressured by administration politicos to skew reports to make Saddam Hussein look menacing. But at Dems' insistence, the committee agreed to conduct a "phase two" study to examine several more contentious issues, such as whether administration policymakers took the flawed intel and hyped it to promote the case for war, and whether pro-war Pentagon hard-liners conducted "rogue" operations outside normal intel channels.

NEWSWEEK spoke to both Democratic and GOP officials who requested anonymity because of political sensitivities. Dems say the GOPers have stalled the committee's probe of unorthodox spying by Pentagon hawks by referring it to the Pentagon inspector general. The Dems are pressing for the committee to restart inquiries by its own staff into allegations that officials of the Pentagon's policy office had contacts with controversial sources, like Iran-contra figure Manucher Ghorbanifar, and "cherry-picked" intel reports on alleged ties between Saddam and Al Qaeda that career intel analysts rejected as unreliable. Republicans say they called in the inspector general when Defense officials stopped cooperating with the committee after its Democratic vice chairman, Sen. …

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