Friday, May 25, 2007

The 2002 NIE

From NBC's Bob Windrem and Mark Murray:
A new book's revelation that Hillary Clinton did not read the CIA National Intelligence Estimate on Iraqi WMD before voting on war authorization should not be a surprise. Most congressmen and senators didn't. And there is a (classified) list of who did and who didn't because members had to visit a secure room -- called the SCIF -- at the Capitol to view it. Members have to sign the document out. In the case of the NIE on Iraq, there were separate logs for the five-page executive summary and the full 90-page NIE.According to a former senior US intelligence official, "only a handful" of congressmen and senators actually went to the SCIF and signed out the NIE. Most who did were members of the intelligence and armed services committees. Although the log is classified, several senators have admitted either reading or not reading the report. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-WV, of the Senate Intelligence Committee was one who admitted he read it. Among those who have admitted they didn't were Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FL, and Sen. Harry Reid, D-NV, now Senate majority leader.

The Washington Post also reported this back in 2004: "In the fall of 2002, as Congress debated waging war in Iraq, copies of a 92-page assessment of Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction sat in two vaults on Capitol Hill, each protected by armed security guards and available to any member who showed up in person, without staff. But only a few ever did. No more than six senators and a handful of House members read beyond the five-page National Intelligence Estimate executive summary, according to several congressional aides responsible for safeguarding the classified material."

But even if Clinton wasn't alone in not reading the NIE, the question arises: Did she do everything possible to have the best information on Iraq WMD before casting her war authorization vote?