I am shocked, shocked to discover that the Joint Staff's J2 (intelligence) shop told former SecDef Donald Rumsfeld in September 2002 that it had no idea whether Saddam's WMD program was actually active or had any stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons. It's quite amazing, in fact, but here is the briefing in response to the SecDef's inquiry. If you've never seen a Rumsfeld "snowflake," an example is at the very first page. From Int. Business Times:
[Maj. Gen. Glen] Shaffer [Director of Intelligence, Joint Staff] wrote on September 5, 2002 that he had been asked by Rumsfeld what the U.S. did not know in terms of percentage about Iraq's WMD program.
"We've struggled to estimate unknowns, and the attached briefing sumps up our best J2 sense," he said. J2 is an intelligence group supporting top level U.S. defense officials.
"We range from 0 % to about 75 % knowledge on various aspects of their program," he said.
The group did not know the status of any nuclear enrichment facilities, centrifuge program development, or attempts by Iraq to purchase a nuclear weapon or know with confidence about the location of any nuclear weapon-related facilities. [Iraq had technical experts but no ability to build any weapon]
"Our knowledge of the Iraqi nuclear weapons program is based largely - perhaps 90% - on analysis of imprecise intelligence," the report states.
The report said "we believe" Iraq had 7 mobile biological weapons production plants "but cannot locate them." [maybe because the CIA had misidentified hydrogen generators for artillery weather stations as "mobile bio labs."]
On chemical weapons, the U.S. could not confirm the identity of any Iraqi sites that could produce the final chemical agent. [because the production lines were cold]
"Our overall knowledge of the Iraqi CW program is primarily limited to infrastructure & doctrine. The specific agent and facility knowledge is 60 -70 percent incomplete," the report stated.
On the one hand, now we know that Rumsfeld got his "we don't know what we don't know" quote from this two-star Air Force general officer (see second slide). On the other hand, this is what I really dislike about intel weenies. They say "We assess Iraq is making significant progress in WMD programs." First of all, they base this on a near total lack of hard intel. Second, they offer no credible assessment of whether this "progress" can be translated into an actual threat or impact against US forces. Fortunately for the J2, the CheneyBush administration took the leap of faith there.
Our intel at the time consisted of five-year old second-hand reports from UN Special Commission reports and tall tales from Ahmed Chalabi's band of Iraqi outcasts. So despite the fact that there were "known unknowns," this weak analysis was still good enough for the CheneyBush administration's policy makers to justify a preventive invasion of Iraq. This was the clear proof that Iraq was "engaging in the development of weapons of mass destruction," and the basis for GWB to say in February 2003, "And our mission is clear, to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein's support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people." Way to go, Bushie!
Hat tip to Global Security Newswire.