Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said during a Senate hearing Thursday on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 that his “fingerprints” were all over the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate which was partly wrong and also misrepresented by the Bush administration to justify the invasion of Iraq.
A recent report from The Washington Post said that “the intelligence community’s assessments on Iraq’s WMD stockpiles and programs turned out to be woefully wrong,” and that “at the same time, Bush administration officials often hyped the intelligence that supported their policy goals – while ignoring or playing down dissents or caveats from within the intelligence community.”
Democratic Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal asked DNI Clapper if he thinks it is a “red herring” to compare the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia directed a hacking effort to the 2002 N.I.E. on Iraq’s weapons program.
“Yes. I agree with that. My fingerprints were on that national intelligence estimate. I was in the community then,” Clapper replied. He said that, “we have done many, many things to improve our processes, particularly with respect to national intelligence estimates, in order to prevent that from happening again.”
One of these reforms is that heads of intelligence agencies have to personally vouch for the credibility of their agency’s sources used in a major estimate.
Clapper said at the hearing: “Whatever else you want to say about the intelligence community, it is a learning organization, and we do try to learn lessons. It’s a very difficult business, and getting harder all the time and there will be mistakes.”
The U.S. government has yet to produce evidence tying Russia to a hacking effort meant to undermine the 2016 election. DNI Clapper said at the Thursday hearing that an unclassified version of the intelligence community’s report will be public “early next week.”
It was thirteen years after the invasion of Iraq that the CIA declassified the N.I.E., which revealed the extent of the misrepresentation of intelligence by the Bush administration.