The XX Committee

Ars Technica needs to stop lying about me

My resignation from the Naval War College, effective the end of this month, has produced minor media commentary as well as a lot of warm wishes from people online. In response to this event, Ars Technica, a website with a large readership, did a story about me by David Kravetz. However, it might be best to call it a “story” since it includes a malicious lie that needs to be clarified. I quote them:

A former National Security Agency analyst who was part of a task force that claimed Saddam Hussein maintained weapons of mass destruction, Schindler was employed by the college since 2005.

Now this lie is not new, in fact, like so much nonsense it emanates from the Firedoglake crowd, but the link goes to something I wrote about myself on an intelligence bulletin board in September 2012, which I quote in full (note: IPP = Iraqi Perspectives Project):

Bob Mackey correctly notes that Iraqi denial & deception (D&D) on the nuclear issue had a significant impact on IC judgements, even though it’s clear that Saddam’s D&D efforts were aimed at Iran, not primarily the US and the West. Scholarship has yet to fully unravel this difficult issue, which may never be understood in all details, since it’s so complicated and, as the IPP makes clear, the regime was itself confused about who had what, WMD-wise, even at a very high level in the military. 

In the run-up to OIF, 2002-03, I headed an interagency intelligence task force which looked at the Iraqi military and we, too, were fooled. All evidence seemed to point in the direction of Iraq having WMDs – that’s how D&D is supposed to work. And in the Dick Cheney 1% threat doctrine world of 2002-03, that led to only one possible conclusion, even though, with hindsight, much of the evidence cited was incomplete at best.

I later was the author/editor of NSA’s official study of OIF (2002-04) and although that study remains classified, I can attest that I never saw any evidence of intentional misuse of incomplete intelligence – we really believed Iraq had some sort of WMDs, as did many of Saddam’s own generals.

Let me be perfectly clear. The intelligence Task Force I headed had nothing explicitly to do with WMDs, though like all analysts looking at Saddam’s Iraq in 2002-03 WMDs were a topic of high interest, neither did I brief any USG leadership at any time on Iraqi WMDs. Not once. Never, as in “not ever.” Looking for Saddam’s WMDs was the full-time job of others in the IC back then, not me; we were looking for Iraqi conventional forces. Sorry to disappoint the conspiracy-mongers, but Cheney and Feith and I did not get together in a dark corner and cook up the Iraq War.

Of course, Firedoglake and Ars Technica could have easily learned the real story had anybody bothered to ask me — I’m pretty easy to find on Twitter — but truth would spoil the smear.



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