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IRAQ ON THE RECORD - METHODOLOGY

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See Also: About Iraq on the Record
View & Search: Iraq on the Record on the web
Download: Iraq on the Record in PDF format. Note: several folks have reported problems obtaining the PDF document from the above source. You can also download the PDF document by clicking here (a right click and save often works best).

Fair Use Statement

Source: Representative Henry Waxman

The Iraq on the Record database contains statements from the five Administration officials most responsible for providing public information and shaping public opinion on the Iraq war: President George Bush; Vice President Richard Cheney; Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld; Secretary of State Colin Powell; and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.

The statements in the database are drawn from 125 public statements or appearances in which the five officials discussed the threat posed by Iraq. The sources of the statements are 40 speeches, 26 press conferences and briefings, 53 interviews, 4 written statements or articles, and 2 appearances before congressional committees. Quotes from the officials in newspaper articles or other similar secondary sources were not included in the database because of the difficulty of discerning the context of such quotes and ensuring their accuracy. Statements made by the officials before March 2002, one year before the commencement of hostilities in Iraq, were also not included.

The database contains statements about Iraq from the five officials that were misleading based on what was known to the Administration at the time the statements were made. In compiling the database, the Special Investigations Division did not assess whether "subjectively" the officials believed a specific statement to be misleading. Instead, the investigators used an "objective" standard. For purposes of the database, a statement is considered "misleading" if it conflicted with what intelligence officials knew at the time or involved the selective use of intelligence or the failure to include essential qualifiers or caveats.

The database does not include statements that appear mistaken only in hindsight. If a statement was an accurate reflection of U.S. intelligence at the time it was made, the statement is excluded from the database even if it now appears erroneous.

To determine whether a statement was misleading, the Special Investigations Division examined the statement in light of intelligence known to the Administration at the time of the statement. The primary sources for determining the intelligence available to the Administration were (1) the portions of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate that have been released to the public, (2) the February 5, 2004, statement by Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet entitled Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction, (3) the recent report of the nonpartisan Carnegie Endowment for International Peace entitled WMD in Iraq: Evidence and Implications, and (4) news and other reports quoting U.S. officials regarding the intelligence available to the Administration on Iraq.

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In general, hypothetical and implied statements about threats posed by Iraq were not included in the database of misleading statements. A few such statements were included, however, where they implied a threat in evocative and frightening language. These statements were misleading because the effect was to instill in the public the perception that the threat actually existed.

To be conservative, the Special Investigations Division excluded hundreds of statements by the five officials that many observers would consider misleading. For example, the five officials made numerous claims that Iraq "had" stockpiles of chemical weapons. Many of these statements were misleading in that they implied that Iraq possessed these stockpiles currently and did not acknowledge the doubts of intelligence experts. Nevertheless, these statements were not included in the database when they were expressed in the past tense because Iraq did possess chemical weapons at least as late as the early 1990s and used them during the 1980s.[1]

Investigators also excluded scores of statements of certainty that Iraq possessed "weapons of mass destruction" prior to the war. To many observers, these statements would be misleading because they implied that Iraq possessed nuclear weapons without acknowledging the divisions among intelligence officials about whether this was the case. The Special Investigations Division excluded these general "weapons of mass destruction" assertions, however, because of the ambiguity inherent in the phrase.

The Special Investigations Division asked two leading independent experts to peer review this report for fairness and accuracy. These two independent experts are: Joseph Cirincione, senior associate and director of the Non-Proliferation Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Greg Thielmann, former acting director of the Office of Strategic, Proliferation, and Military Affairs in the Department of State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. These experts judged that this report is a fair and accurate depiction of the Administration's statements.

[1] United Nations Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission, Unresolved Disarmament Issues: Iraq's Proscribed Weapons Programmes, UNMOVIC Working Document (Mar. 6, 2003).

See Also: About Iraq on the Record
View & Search: Iraq on the Record on the web
Download: Iraq on the Record in PDF format. Note: several folks have reported problems obtaining the PDF document from the above source. You can also download the PDF document by clicking here (a right click and save often works best).

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