Introduction This essay will aim to examine the failures of intelligenceand the lessons to be learned, with specific reference to the 2003 invasion of Iraqover Weapons of Mass Destruction, in a coalition led by the United States (US).Intelligence can be defined as ‘the mainly secret activities – targeting,collection, analysis, dissemination and action – intended to enhance securityand/or maintain power relative to competitors by forewarning of threats and opportunities’As one of the many definitions of intelligence, this onepredominantly addresses many of the areas where intelligence failures were identifiedin the case of Iraq.
Official reports and inquires investigating the invasion found responsibilitylay with the intelligence community alone, within areas of collection,analysis, dissemination and organisational management. However key to thisexamination of the intelligence failures of this case study, is the awarenessthat official reports were biased, in being influenced by individuals,organisations and partisan politics. As a result they did not identify the keyintelligence failure of politicised intelligence. However, this essay willhighlight the politicisation of intelligence and evaluate its impact on theintelligence community’s failings identified by official investigations. Drawingupon the work of numerous intellectuals in the field, including Mark Pythian,Gregory Treverton and particularly Richard K Betts, along with official reportsand investigations conducted, this essay will venture to assess the failuresmentioned and offer an opinion as to where the liability of the invasion of Iraqover Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)truly lies. Background On March 20th 2003, the USmilitary and other members of an American-led coalition invaded Iraq,with the aim to find WMDs. The invasion was a disguise by the USgovernment, under President Bush, to fulfil the aim of overthrowing SaddamHussein’s regime in Iraqat the time.
The context of the decision to go to war and the belief that Iraqwas producing and concealing WMDs starts with the Iraq-Iran war during the1980s, in which Iraqused chemical weapons against Iran.After the war ended in a stalemate, Iraqsoon after invaded Kuwaitin which the USled an international coalition to push Iraqout of Kuwaitand subsequently forwarded an effort to sanction Iraq.Also, key to this case study is the knowledge that Iraqdid posses chemical weapons prior to 2003, however crucially in summer 1991; Iraqunilaterally destroyed its WMDequipment and documentation. In 1994 the United Nations Special Commission(UNSCOM) carried out the destruction of all known chemical weapons andproduction equipment Iraqhad. When the terrorist attacks on September 11th 2001took place, the Bush administration pushed suspicious to find a correlationbetween Iraqand Al Qaeda.
Soon after, during his State of the Union Address on January 29th2002, President Bush accused Iraq of having involvement in an international’axis of evil’, and ‘prepared the public for war by emphasising three claims:1. threats posed by Iraq WMD,2. risk that nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons technology could bepassed to terrorists, and 3. a link between Saddam and the events of 9/11’ Collection Failures The failure of intelligence collection was one of the keyfindings of US and UKinquiries into the invasion, with errors occurring in relation to the lack ofintelligence collected, poor amounts of Human Intelligence (HUMINT) sourcesexisting, questions of reliability of HUMINT sources and an ignorance of using traditionalmethods of intelligence.
The intelligence community during the build up to thewar failed to integrate and use various methods of intelligence such as HumanIntelligence, Signals Intelligence (SIGINT), and Image Intelligence (IMINT),this resulted in collection and analysis personnel working individually andtherefore gaps of missing intelligence were far less likely to be identified. Moreover,these methods of collection were ‘supplemented by findings of the UNSCOMinspectors on the ground’ However there was inadequateattention given to the negative findings of UN inspectors after the early1990s, nor were inspectors replaced once they left. This again led to evidencethat was ‘scattered, ambiguous, and often misleading’ It could be argued that the useof UNSCOM intelligence was substituted due to a lack of US and UK HUMINT sources,as both countries inquires stated. The Senate Select Committee found that’after 1998 the Intelligence Community did not have a single HUMINT source ofits own reporting on Iraqi WMD’ However, when HUMINT sources were used as part of intelligencecollection, it was the poor quality and lack of reliability of these sourcesthat was a significant factor leading to the intelligence failure. The case ofthe HUMINT source known as ‘CURVEBALL’ is a major example of this failing.
The Case of Curveball:Originallyfrom Iraq,CURVEBALL was a German citizen who claimed to be a chemical engineer, whopreviously worked at a plant producing mobile biological weapon laboratories, aspart of Iraq’sWMDprogram. He became one of the most relied upon sources of intelligence for the UKand US and ‘provided the overwhelming portion of the information that hadformed the basis of the West’s threats assessments about Iraq’A major failure of theintelligence community was their use of his reporting, and the forwarding of itto subsequent areas of the intelligence cycle, despite queries being raised regardingthe reliability of CURVEBALL. Adding toexisting questions over reliability is the assessment of CURVEBALL by theGerman Intelligence Agency (BND), who originally became aware of him and ‘described him as”crazy”, “unstable” and “out of control”‘ The failure of the intelligence community in this particularcase came to light once CURVEBALL later stated that what he had said wasfabrication and all was all part of his personal motives to aid the toppling ofSaddam Hussein. Despite many of the failures within collection being the directresult of the intelligence community’s own flaws, in the lead up to the war therewas increased pressure and demands for intelligence by policymakers. Due to thepoor quality of intelligence available, policymakers would therefore often’cherry pick’ or ‘grow their own intelligence’; two forms of politicisationidentified by Gregory Treverton. The failures in collection also have a directeffect upon the success or failure of other aspects of the intelligence cycle,such as analysis.