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Weapons of Mass Deception

From today's issue (link should be available soon) of Stephen Aftergood's Secrecy News:

The Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction is supposed to report this week to the President, providing its assessment of U.S. intelligence on WMD and its recommendations for needed reforms.

Considering that the recommendations of last year's 9-11 Commission — notably including intelligence budget disclosure — have been rejected or not fully implemented, one may wonder about the likely impact of the latest Commission.

Several impudent questions about the forthcoming WMD Commission report were posed by myself for the Nieman Watchdog, a project of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University.

Impudent questions? I don't think so. On the whole, they are questions that deserve answers. The only one that doesn't, perhaps, is the last.

Q. Do Bush Administration officials bear any responsibility for their public representations of the inaccurate intelligence assessments of Iraqi nuclear weapons programs? Or was the White House merely an unwitting conduit?

Q. What makes this commission report different from the dozen or so studies that have tackled the intelligence problem in the last decade? Why is it any more likely to produce meaningful change?

Q. Did U.S. intelligence accurately project that more than 1,500 American servicemen and women would be killed in a U.S. attack on Iraq, and many thousands more wounded? If not, do the commission's findings and recommendations address this intelligence failure as well?

Q. In light of the commission's findings, was it appropriate for President Bush to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet?

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