Report says U.S. spy agencies were 'dead wrong' about Iraq

Presidential commission concludes U.S. spy agencies were "dead wrong" about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

A U.S. presidential commission, reviewing intelligence information in connection to the lead up to the invasion of Iraq, has offered some damning conclusions about the conduct of the CIA and other spy agencies in the lead-up to the Iraq war.

The report concludes the agencies were "dead wrong" about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The report says the U.S. intelligence agencies knew "disturbingly little" about the most dangerous threats in the world today.

The nine member Commission on Intelligence Capabilities and Weapons of Mass Destruction was appointed by George W. Bush a year ago. The report does not directly criticize Bush or anyone in his administration, but it does say that problems have been allowed to fester for far too long.

"They got wrong the critical judgments with respect to nuclear weapons, with respect to biological weapons and with respect to chemical weapons," said former Democratic Senator Chuck Robb of Virginia, who along with retired judge Laurence Silberman, a well-known conservative Republican, co-chaired the commission.

In their report U.S. spy agencies come across as fools; blinded by having too few agents in the field; made stupid because in seeing only what they wanted to they produced worthless conclusions; and immature because they obsessively indulged in inter-agency turf wars.

"They had very little evidence collected. What little evidence they had they pushed into assumptions based on the past behaviour of Saddam Hussein," said Silberman.

"The central conclusion is one that I share," said President Bush. "America's intelligence community needs fundamental change."

Bush seemed satisfied with the Commission's conclusions, a "sharp critique" he called it.

Robb and Silberman said they found no evidence that the spymasters were pressured by their political masters to find weapons of mass destruction where none existed, in order to falsely justify a war. "If somebody has a member of the intelligence community that can say to us we changed our analysis ... we haven't heard from them," said Robb.

The report also says, in one section, that "across the board, the intelligence community knows disturbingly little about the nuclear programs of many of the world's most dangerous actors," an oblique but obvious reference to Iran and North Korea.

But that section of the report remains classified. "We simply cannot talk about those subjects," said Silberman.