CIA reassigns two top Iraq experts amid WMD controversy
WASHINGTON: The US Central Intelligence Agency has reassigned two senior officials who oversaw its analysis of Iraq and its suspected weapons of mass destruction, The Los Angeles Times reported on Saturday.
The newspaper said the officials, whose names have not been revealed, had served in senior positions, in which they were deeply involved in assembling and assessing the intelligence on Iraq’s alleged stocks of chemical and biological arms. More than two months after the fall of Baghdad, the Pentagon and CIA failed to discover the suspected Iraqi arsenal that President George W Bush used as his primary rationale for invading Iraq. One of the officials was reassigned last week to the CIA’s personnel department after spending the last several months heading the Iraq Task Force, a special unit set up to provide 24-hour support to military commanders during the war, The Times reported.
The other, a long time analyst who had led the agency’s Iraq Issue Group that is responsible for analysis of all US intelligence on the country, was dispatched on an extended mission to Iraq, the paper said. The Times quotes CIA spokesman Bill Harlow as saying the changes were routine, and that it was “absolutely wrong to think this is somehow punitive or negative or indicative of anything other than a normal rotation.” But other intelligence sources offered a different account, the report said.
“Two of the key players on this problem have essentially been sent into deep exile,” the paper quotes an unnamed agency official as saying.
The official added that the changes seemed designed to show the administration that “we’re being responsive to charges that we did not perform well.” —AFP