WMD? WHAT WMD?….Was the Pentagon duped by all those Iraqi defectors turned over to us by Ahmed Chalabi? Maybe so:

Although senior CIA officials insist defectors were only partly responsible for the intelligence that triggered the decision to invade Iraq last March, other intelligence officials now fear that key portions of the pre-war intelligence may have been flawed.

As evidence, officials say former Iraqi intelligence operatives have confirmed since the war that Saddam’s regime sent “double agents” disguised as defectors to the West to plant fabricated intelligence. In other cases, Baghdad apparently tricked legitimate defectors into funneling phony tips about weapons production and storage sites.

….There is growing concern, said another U.S. intelligence official, that “people were just telling us what we wanted to hear.”

….”We were prisoners of our own beliefs,” said a senior U.S. weapons expert who recently returned from a stint with the survey group. “We said Saddam Hussein was a master of denial and deception. Then when we couldn’t find anything, we said that proved it, instead of questioning our own assumptions.”

These defectors were a key part of the WMD case made by the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans, despite warnings from conventional intelligence sources ? i.e., people who actually had significant experience with real intelligence ? that Chalabi and the defectors were not reliable. In fact, as we now know, the “dot connecting” done by the OSP was almost completely useless.

This leads to an interesting question: Does the OSP still exist? If so, why?

And one unrelated observation: this may seem like mere hometown boostering, but a few times a month the LA Times produces a really good Iraq-related story like this that nobody else has. Their reporting from Liberia has been first rate too. I know the registration is a pain, but if you really want to follow the news from a variety of sources, you ought to go ahead and register. You’re missing out if you don’t. (And you can always enter phony information on the registration form, just like I did….)

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