WASHINGTON – A former Pentagon official on Sunday defended his prewar assessment of a relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda, calling it a much-needed critique of the CIA's intelligence on the subject.
"It's healthy to criticize the CIA's intelligence," said former Pentagon policy chief Douglas Feith. "What the people in the Pentagon were doing was right. It was good government."
Feith was responding to a report by the Defense Department inspector general that Feith's office "did not provide the most accurate analysis of intelligence to senior decision makers."
The IG's report found that there was no support for the Pentagon's claim of a "mature symbiotic relationship" in all areas between Iraq and Al Qaeda.
"No one in my office ever claimed there was an operational relationship," Feith said on "FOX News Sunday." "There was a relationship."
The review found that the actions of Feith's office were not illegal or unauthorized — but they were an inappropriate "alternative" analysis that did not reflect the consensus of the intelligence community or include caveats about the information's reliability.
Feith said this amounted to circular logic from the Pentagon's internal watchdog.
"The people in my office were doing a criticism of the intelligence community consensus," Feith said. "By definition, that criticism varied. If it didn't vary, they wouldn't have done the criticism."
The 2004 report from the Sept. 11 commission found no evidence of a collaborative relationship between Saddam and Usama bin Laden's terrorist organization.
When asked if his office ever made the case against going to war with Saddam, Feith said, "The answer is emphatically yes."
Feith left his Pentagon post in August 2005.
Sen. Jack Reed, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the Pentagon, through Feith's office, intentionally made the case for war in 2002 based on faulty analysis.
"They did it very deliberately," said Reed, D-R.I. "They used that analysis. It was leaked to the media. It was reported in newspapers. It took on a credibility beyond the facts that the intelligence community had." Reed also appeared on "FOX News Sunday."