WASHINGTON – The Bush administration deliberately misused or ignored intelligence analysis in the buildup of the 2003 invasion into Iraq, according to a former top intelligence official.
Paul R. Pillar, who served as the National Intelligence Officer for Near East and South Asia from 2000 to 2005, also accused the administration of ignoring reports that Iraq would likely endure a violent transition period.
The administration "went to war without requesting — and evidently without being influenced by — any strategic-level intelligence assessments on any aspect of Iraq," Pillar wrote in an upcoming article of Foreign Affairs.
The White House did not immediately return a call for comment Friday.
Pillar said the administration drove intelligence officials to discover information that would help them meet their policy objectives.
"The Bush administration deviated from the professional standard not only in using policy to drive intelligence, but also in aggressively using intelligence to win public support for its decision to go to war," Pillar wrote. "This meant selectively adducing data — 'cherry-picking' — rather than using the intelligence community's own analytic judgments."
He also wrote that the intelligence community assessed that in Iraq, "war and occupation would boost political Islam and increase sympathy for terrorists' objectives."
House Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called for an investigation Friday.
"Evidence that the Bush White House manipulated and selectively declassified intelligence to wage a public relations campaign before, during and after the invasion of Iraq grows every day," he said.
Pillar served in the intelligence community for more than 20 years. He is now a professor at Georgetown University.