Intelligence and Decision Making before the War with Iraq
This chapter examines the use of intelligence by George W. Bush and his administration in decision making before the war in Iraq. It is argued that as the administration moved toward war, decision making was neither deliberate nor deliberative, but consisted of a series of decisions that cumulatively led to war. The administration's arguments that Iraq was closely linked to al-Qaeda, and that it possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD) that were a threat to the United States, are analyzed. The intelligence produced by the intelligence community was sketchy and ambiguous; political officials in the administration, however, presented it with unwarranted certainty to bolster their case for war. The administration sought to shape the conclusions of intelligence agencies and downplayed or ignored contrary evidence and the reservations of intelligence professionals. As a result of flawed decision making, the administration went to war in Iraq under misperceptions that resulted in the undermining of US credibility throughout the world.
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