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November 11, 2005

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topsecretk9

I think this passage deserves a post of it's own

Over the last year, Mr. Clinton and his team quietly avoided dealing with, or calling attention to, the almost complete unraveling of a decade’s efforts to isolate the regime of Saddam Hussein and prevent it from rebuilding its weapons of mass destruction

(also it was from TM's 500th post, I do think that is a record for any independent blog!--Congrats TM)

jukeboxgrad

kim: "there were competent experts arguing both sides of the aluminium tube question"

Therefore what a darn shame it was that folks like Rice went on TV acting perfectly happy to gloss over the fact that "there were competent experts arguing both sides of the aluminium tube question." And what a darn shame that folks like you seem perfectly happy to gloss over what Rice did.

Aside from that, it was not "competent experts" on both sides. There was a CIA idiot on one side, and virtually every actual nuclear expert in the country on the other.

"It is still not known what the intended use was."

Silly me. I've been focusing on SSCI, when actually some of the strongest and clearest material on this subject is in Silberman-Robb. I will now quote at some length, because this is such a dramatic example of how certain people are desperate to hide from the truth.

The fiasco described below is exactly what happens when top management announces that it's made up its mind, and it only wants to hear from people who can help demonstrate the concept of executive infallibility. Certain drones (some of whom will later win medals) will inevitably rise to the occasion and torture reality until it conforms to the worldview that's been endorsed by the big boss. (But in the end reality always wins, and that's the process that's currently unfolding.)

First, here's how WaPo summarized what SR said about the tubes: "To support its assertions about the aluminum tubes, the CIA made a series of arguments that the nation's leading centrifuge physicists described repeatedly as technically garbled, improbable or unambiguously false, the report [SR] said. One WINPAC analyst -- identified previously ... as "Joe," ... responded by bypassing the Energy Department's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the nation's only major center of expertise on nuclear centrifuge technology. ... The CIA refused to convene the government's authoritative forum for resolving technical disputes about nuclear weapons. The Joint Atomic Energy Intelligence Committee proposed twice, in the spring and summer of 2002, to assess all the evidence. The CIA's front office replied, according to yesterday's report, 'that CIA was not ready to discuss its position.' ... Within weeks of the tubes' interception ... Energy Department experts told the CIA that they matched precisely the materials and dimensions of an Italian-made rocket called the Medusa, a standard NATO munition. They also pointed out that Iraq was building copies of the Medusa and declared a stockpile of identical tubes to U.N. inspectors in 1996. The CIA asked the Army's National Ground Intelligence Center for an analysis of the tubes but withheld the information about the Medusa and the 1996 discovery. The Army analysts said ... that no known rocket used that particular aluminum alloy -- disregarding not only the Medusa but also the U.S.-built Hydra rocket. 'The intercepted tubes were not only well-suited, but were in fact a precise fit, for Iraq's conventional rockets,' the commission said yesterday, but 'certain agencies were more wedded to the analytical position that the tubes were destined for a nuclear program.' "

All the text below is an extended quote from SR itself. What is quite amazing about this is that even though the language could hardly be more decisive, there are people on this thread who still have their heads buried firmly in the sand.
---
... The Intelligence Community seriously misjudged the status of Iraq's alleged nuclear weapons program in the 2002 NIE and other pre-Iraq war intelligence products. This misjudgment stemmed chiefly from the Community's failure to analyze correctly Iraq's reasons for attempting to procure high-strength aluminum tubes. ... The Community was, in brief, decidedly wrong on what many would view as the single most important judgment it made.

... the majority of intelligence agencies--and in particular, CIA and DIA--were simply wrong on the question of whether the aluminum tubes were suitable for conventional rocket applications.

...CIA and DIA analysts concluded that the tubes were destined for use in a gas centrifuge largely because they could be used for such a purpose, in the process discounting evidence that the tubes were in many respects better suited for use in rockets.

... By focusing on whether the tubes could be used for centrifuges, analysts effectively set aside evidence that the tubes were better suited for use in rockets, such as the fact that the tubes had precisely the same dimensions and were made of the same material as tubes used in the conventional rockets that Iraq had declared to international inspectors in 1996.

... CIA and DIA consistently construed quite ambiguous technical data as supporting the conclusion that the aluminum tubes were well-suited for use as centrifuges. A consistent pattern emerges: certain analysts, and certain agencies, were clearly inclined to view evidence--even exceedingly technical evidence--through the prism of their assumptions that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program.

... DIA and CIA analysts overestimated the likelihood that the tubes were intended for use in centrifuges, an erroneous judgment that resulted largely from the unwillingness of many analysts to question--or rigorously test--the underlying assumption that Iraq would try to reconstitute its nuclear program.

... The unwillingness to question prevailing assumptions that Iraq was attempting to reconstitute its nuclear program therefore resulted in faulty analysis of the aluminum tubes. While CIA analysts now agree with the ISG position that the tubes were most likely intended for use in rockets rather than in centrifuge applications, as of March 2005, CIA had still not published a reassessment of its position on the tubes.

... the ISG judged that Iraq's work on uranium enrichment, including development of gas centrifuges, essentially ended in 1991, and that its ability to reconstitute its enrichment program progressively decayed after that time. With respect to the aluminum tubes, the ISG concluded that Iraq's effort to procure the tubes is "best explained by its efforts to produce 81-mm rockets," and the ISG uncovered no evidence that the tubes were intended for use in a gas centrifuge.

...The Community made serious mistakes in its technical analysis of Iraq's unconventional weapons program. The National Ground Intelligence Center in particular displayed a disturbing lack of diligence and technical expertise.

... The problem of discounting contrary evidence was compounded by inexcusable analytical lapses. One reason that CIA analysts were confident in their conclusion that the aluminum tubes were for use in centrifuges and not rockets was that the "rocket experts" in the Intelligence Community, the National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC), assessed that the tolerances of the tubes Iraq was seeking were "excessive" for rockets. But NGIC rocket analysts told Commission staff that at the time they made that assessment they were not aware of the tolerances required for the Iraqi Nasser 81 rockets, for the Italian Medusa rocket on which the Nasser 81 was based, or for comparable U.S. rockets. NGIC should have been aware of these facts.

... The reasons for this failure of technical analysis were not particularly grand. Rather, analysts in NGIC, used to focusing almost exclusively on Soviet weapons systems, simply did not do their homework in tracking down information about Iraqi and U.S. weapons that would have shed light on the question whether the aluminum tubes could be used in conventional rockets. CIA analysts, for their part, were too quick to see confirmation of their hypothesis--that Iraq would seek to reconstitute its nuclear program at the first opportunity--based on somewhat dubious technical evidence.

... one basis for the conclusion that the tubes were for centrifuges was that the specifications were excessive for rockets, yet CIA analysts did not vigorously pursue an effort to determine the specifications used in the Italian rocket from which the Iraqis had reverse-engineered theirs, reasoning that such information was unnecessary. Similarly, CIA reasoned that the tubes were intended for centrifuges because they were procured through intermediary countries, but that procurement method is equally consistent with the tubes' use in conventional weapons.

jukeboxgrad

top: "So Juke can savor his consistent Dem approval over Repub POLL numbers (of which I agreed!)"

It's not nice to rewrite history. It's not even nice to try to falsely rewrite the history of a thread like this.

What you actually did is try to claim that what's happening this year is no different than what happened last year. And then you helpfully offered a table which proved exactly how wrong you are. Here, this will refresh your memory, such as it is.

p.lukasiak

Speaking of excess, you're obviously throwing in some artistic padding. That's OK. But since you raised the subject, you might find it interesting to know that in this thread I'm behind 7% of the comments and 16% of the words. Maybe you meant to say "40% of the total comments, after one puts aside all the miserable drivel which is totally devoid of any substantive or factual content whatsoever."

Jukebox....
You are doing an amazing job here, rebutting the completely unsubstantiated claims here with data and quote...

keep it up for as long as you can. I know that most of tom's audience isn't learning anything, but I am! Thanx!


TM

But since you raised the subject, you might find it interesting to know that in this thread I'm behind 7% of the comments and 16% of the words

Can't you just go away again and get that down to zero?

I so, so, soooo did not miss you.

Please. Leave.

TexasToast

Tag off OK?

Dwilkers

Maybe TM can put in a feature that collapses jbg's posts so the rest of us don't wear out our mice scrolling past them.

kim

So, JBG, do you claim to know what the intended use of the tubes was?

So far you've laid out a huge controversy, among experts, of what the use of the tubes could have been. But what, in fact, were they for?

And p.l., it's been my experience that you learn what you want to learn. I don't envy you what you can learn from JBG's mumbo-jumbo. Y'all both are living in a worse echo chamber than we are. I mean, look at Iraq, you are delusional.
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p.lukasiak

So far you've laid out a huge controversy, among experts, of what the use of the tubes could have been. But what, in fact, were they for?

The reverse engineered rockets, of course.

The section on the aluminum tubes in the SSCI report makes it clear that intelligence was manipulated. There were numerous factual disputes between the agencies involved that, had any effort been made to determine which facts were correct, would have shown the the DOE experts were the ones working with the real facts.

Tests that were done showed that the tubes were not appropriate for centrifuges. One test showed that 30 out of 31 of the tubes FAILED during a spin test done at the speed necessary to enrich uranium -- and the data on this test was falsified (claiming that the tubes had been spun for 2 hours, when it had only been spun for 65 minutes.) Moveover, because these tubes were required to operate at high speeds for months and months, the appropriate test would have been to spin it for a couple of hours at a 20% higher rate than "operational" speed.

There is no question that in this instance, there was manipulation of intelligence. The big question is why? And the SSCI provides some hints that indicate that the White House was basically encouraging someone to "prove" that the tubes were for use in a nuclear program. The "intelligence was being fixed to fit the policy."

p.lukasiak

And p.l., it's been my experience that you learn what you want to learn. I don't envy you what you can learn from JBG's mumbo-jumbo.

what you describe as JBG's mumbo-jumbo are highly pertinent facts on the aluminum tubes controversy that anyone who isn't dedicated to maintaining their own absolute ingorance would want to know about.

****************

Can't you just go away again and get that down to zero?

can't have your target audience bothered with facts interfering with their opinions, now can you?

kim

p.l., experts disagreed vociferously over those tubes. You only get JBG's certainty with mumbo-jumbo.
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boris

I've carefully considered all the evidence regarding the aluminum tubes.

My determination:

Highly suspicious.

Like a basement full of cold medicine and a well equipped chem lab.

Pete

jueboxgrad - Good job debunking the spin. I especially like your comments: "The fiasco described below is exactly what happens when top management announces that it's made up its mind, and it only wants to hear from people who can help demonstrate the concept of executive infallibility. Certain drones (some of whom will later win medals) will inevitably rise to the occasion and torture reality until it conforms to the worldview that's been endorsed by the big boss. (But in the end reality always wins, and that's the process that's currently unfolding.)"

The question is - has anyone been held accountable for their lapses? Or have they been promoted?

Hadley was promoted despite twice ignoring information from the CIA on the Niger nukes. Mr "Slam Dunk" and Mr "We don't need a lot of troops" got Presidential Medals. Everyone who supported the war got promoted. Those who urged caution (Powell) are out.

kim

For Pete's Sake, Iraq is a success, and the Iraqis have made it so.
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Syl

Pete

re Niger

The administration never claimed Saddam bought uranium from Niger. The forged documents were of a sales agreement.

There was separate intel (from Wilson no less) regarding a real attempt by Saddam to open up trade relations with Niger.

There was separate intel of attempts for the same thing in Niger and other African countries obtained by the Brits.

Attempts to obtain yellowcake (whether successful or not) show Saddam's intent

Forged documents concerning an actual sale have nothing to do with that.

kim

Rice suggested they were best suited for centrifuges, given that they were over engineered for rockets. This actually suggests disagreement rather than suggesting 'no disagreement' as you continually misunderstand the words of a very bright woman.
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kim

And JBG, you still fail to remember that Saddam was a dangerous and unpredictable man who threatened people with WMD. That's why we feared him and that's why we got rid of him. All else is illusion.
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kim

Until 9/11 we could tolerate what turned out to be his bluff; afterwards we could not. Why this is mysterious to Democratic politicians, I don't know.
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p.lukasiak

There was one offer to Iraq of 'yellowcake' uranium, and that was from a Ugandan businessman offering uranium from Congo. The deal was turned down, and the Ugandan was told that Baghdad was not interested because of the sanctions.

the best part of this story is that even the offer is implausible -- Congo doesn't actually produce yellowcake. Congolese mines were the source of (at least some) of the yellowcake from which the original Hiroshima and Nagisaki bombs were made, but those mines were deliberately flooded soon after they were "tapped out" -- and The Congo is in the midst of a protracted civil war.

(Its a shame that the Niger forgers didn't realize that the Congo has a nuclear reactor of its own that is not the least bit secure -- and that at least one fuel rod from the Congo reactor found its way into the "open market". Imagine how much bigger a phony scare Bushco could have gotten from saying stuff like "Iraq is seeking spent fuel rods stolen from a poorly secured Congolese nuclear reactor!")

Syl

JBG

Trouble is, there is no evidence of such "attempts." Ask Duelfer

Sorry. We couldn't ask Duelfer before the war.

TM

The trailing bit of this thread is going to llok a bit odd - I am deleting Jukebox's comments as I have a chance, so some folks responses will be a bit disjointed.

I have no idea how long this will go on, but a day may come when Jukebox realizes that this is not a public forum, and that insulting the host is like saying the magic words to an umpire.

P.luk is essentially on that fine line as well, or may have stepped over it on another thread.

That may seem a bit unfair, but my rationalization is this - first, I really do try to discourage anyone from insulting anyone else at this site. However, anyone else who is feeling harassed can, if all else fails, simply leave. That is not really an option for me.

Anyway, Jukebox today, p.luk soon, barring an unexpected imnprovement in tone. Just FYI.

kim

p.l., now you are getting a feel for the unpredictability and dangerousness of Saddam. Back, pre-war, that would have been an easy sell, that Saddam had scored a spent fuel rod.

You sneer at fuel rods, but my prediction is that the next bit of al Qaeda symbolism will be a dirty bomb with conventional explosives from a small plane over a metro area. It will not be lethal, it will cause Katrina-like economic destruction. It will be made up of spent fuel rods, hopital radiological supplies, and oh my god, depleted uranium.
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kim

I've a diablolical idea. Depleted uranium is only dangerous to those who believe it is. Perhaps we could pile up a little line of it along our borders.
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kim

You know, p.l., that subsequent investigation shows a large number of dual use items among imports by Iraq under the sanctions. Saddam was actively keeping his destructiveness as tempered and sharpened as he could. That's why I asked what you thought the aluminum tubes were for. You still haven't explained why they are over engineered for the single use you admit.
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