Legislation, Presidential & Congressional Politics/Intelligence


QUESTION: I hope you can answer this? I'm not sure.

Remember back before the Iraq war started?  

The reason we went in to begin with was because our 'intelligence' said they had chemical weapons. So after we got Saddam Hussein out, we found out that our 'intelligence' wasn't so intelligent after all.

So what became of those people? Did they ever receive any kind of punishment? I.E. were they  ever yelled at, demoted, fired?.. Did they even get a slap on the hand?


ANSWER: Hello,

As far as I know, no one ever received any sort of punishment or sanction for the poor intelligence given.  In fact, many top intelligence officials responsible have received awards, promotions, and continue to hold positions of respect.

George Tenet, the head of CIA during this time, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his service.

Robert Joseph, who was responsible for approving the insertion of language in one of the President's speeches that Iraq was seeking to obtain yellow cake uranium, remained Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security until the end of the Administration.  He also received  National Defense University President's Award for Individual Achievement (2004), the National Nuclear Security Administration Gold Medal for Distinguished Service, and the Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Award (2004).

National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice was promoted to Secretary of State, well after the intelligence failures were well known.

Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley actually took responsibility for some of the intelligence failures in his resignation letter to President Bush.  Bush refused to accept the resignation and two years later promoted him to National Security Advisor.

Paul Wolfowitz was Deputy Secretary of Defense under Donald Rumsfeld.  Although the Defense Department should not have had a role in making intelligence decisions, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz set up the Office of Special Plans (OSP) in the U.S. Defense Department.  It was created to find evidence of Saddam Hussein's ties to Al Qaeda, and Iraq stocks of WMD.  This office not only contributed to much of the incorrect intelligence later used by the Administration, but Wolfowitz, as one of the most high profile advocates for the invasion, argued that the cost to tax payers would be almost nothing as costs could be repaid out of the $50-100 billion that Iraq could receive in oil sales.  He also criticized military predictions that 100,000 military personnel would be needed for occupation as being far too high.  He was later promoted to be President of the World Bank.

John Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, during the period in question, was a strong proponent of invasion.  He was later promoted to be US Ambassador to the United Nations.

Many of these top officials remain highly respected within the Republican Party and provided advice to top presidential candidates, including Mitt Romney.

The few Administration officials who did question the intelligence were the only ones who suffered. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who questioned some of the intelligence, was forced to leave office at the end of Bush's first term for not being a team player.

Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who famously wrote a government report and later an op-ed reporting his findings that Iraqi attempts to obtain uranium were false, found himself attacked by the Administration and had his wife Valerie Plame illegally outed as a CIA agent and forced to leave service.

Richard Clarke was National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism, the chief counter-terrorism adviser on the National Security Council.  After raising serious questions about the intelligence on Iraq, Clarke was moved to a new position as Special Advisor to the President on cybersecurity, and lost his cabinet level access.  He decided to resign in 2003.

- Mike

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: This is so unbelievable! The ones who were wrong got promoted and the ones that were right lost their jobs!

So once the real truth came out, then what happened to the ones that were right in the first place? Did anyone get their positions back? I know people in those positions can't say "I told you so!" But boy it would be tempting!

No, those pushed out of their jobs remained on the outs.  Fortunately, most of the more notable ones have moved on to good private sector jobs.  Some of them have written books exposing the failures of the Administration leading up to the war

But the unfortunate lesson for bureaucrats is that if you want to keep your job or get ahead, go along with what the administration wants.  Don't try to stand up for truth.

- Mike  

Legislation, Presidential & Congressional Politics

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Michael Troy


I can answer just about any question about U.S. Political history, Constitutional law, the legislative process, elections, etc. I enjoy Presidential and Congressional historical trivia, but can answer more substantive questions too.


Former Staff member for a Congressman and Senator. I also worked on about 10 Congressional and Presidential campaigns (only one that won). For a short time, I worked in the legal department of the Federal Election Commission.    I have a B.A. in Political Science.

Former LBJ Fellow (paid fellowship for Congressional Staff).
Pi Sigma Alpha (Political Science Honorary Society).

Washington Post
Washington Times

J.D. University of Michigan
B.A. George Washington University (Poli. Sci. major).

Awards and Honors
LBJ Fellow
Truman Scholar

©2017 About.com. All rights reserved.