Free «Intelligence» Essay Sample

Intelligence remains one of the most vital aspects necessary for the United States to combat terrorism, but the failure of government agencies in gathering credible intelligence has come under scrutiny. For many years, the United States government has relied on intelligence to direct effort to combat terrorism, both from state and non-state actors, and shape its policy on terrorism (Uda, 2009). Arguably, the quality and accuracy of intelligence information have been a subject of scrutiny. However, many people believe that the United States was wrong in concluding that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, which was the principle reason why the coalition government invaded Iraq. Because the intelligence report indicated that Iraq to have weapons such as chemical weapons, the United States and its coalition partners made war on Iraq, but there are many reasons to believe that the intelligence reports were inaccurate. Many people who supported the war grew uneasy after it turned out that Iraq did not have any weapons of mass destruction. Without doubt, the intelligence report, which formed the basis of waging war on Iraq, had significant inaccuracies because Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. Invariably, the United States experienced an intelligence failure because of many factors that intertwined to create an impression that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

Reasons for the failure of the US intelligence in estimating Iraqi WMD threat

The prewar intelligence assessment of Iraq failed to provide a true picture of Iraq's possession of the said weapons. The reasons behind the failure are many, their interactions unclear, but they all had one effect—intelligence failure. The intelligence report proved that the American Intelligence community had yet again failed to execute its role effectively and report to the government appropriate information regarding threats to American interests (Danchev, 2004). During the war, it emerged that the expectation of supporters of the war did not match the reality on the ground. The difference in expectation was a valid reason to signal intelligence failure because the evidence in the reports was not consistent with the reality in Iraq.

Too much certainty on the reports

The American intelligence community made a judgment that had significant levels of certainty, which did not collaborate with evidence about Iraq having weapons of mass destructions. The United States government relied on reports the UN inspectors had prepared during their inspection of Iraq. In this reports, the UN inspectors had indicated that Iraq was likely to have weapons of mass destructions, but they had no concrete evidence to prove this assertion (Treverton & Agrell, 2009). However, the American intelligence community made a judgment with too much certainty, while they could not verify the certainty of information, they had received about Iraq. The results of this reporting were severe because the United States used this reports to convince the public about Iraq's involvement in the production of weapons of mass destruction and gain support towards fighting Saddam Hussein's regime. While there was some evidence to indicate that Iraqi could be in possession weapons of mass destruction, the American intelligence community failed to critique that certainty of the information, which could have led to the use of appropriate actions to deal with the situation. Nonetheless, government produced the National Intelligence Estimate in 2002, which pointed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, a conclusion that was not true. The failure of intelligence in estimating the Iraq weapons of mass destruction threat were clearly a result of too much certainty on preliminary reports. Had the American Intelligence security assessed report on Iraq, it would have discovered that some of the reports were negative, and others did not have evidence to back their claims. Owing to these challenges, the coalition partners could not avert an intelligence failure.

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No consideration of alternatives

Lack of consideration of alternative issues surrounding reports on Iraq contributed to the realization of intelligence failure. Many reports on Iraq highlighted many issues that could have made the American intelligence community make correct judgments. However, little attention was paid on alternative explanation of events happening in Iraq (Posner, 2006). For instance, some reports indicated that Iraq had imported aluminum tubes. This claim was true, but the United States believed that Iraq did so to reconstitute its nuclear operations. In addition, some reported indicated that Iraq had acquired new software for its Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. This software had the maps of the United States, which made the United States perceive Iraq a threat. In all these reports, the American intelligence community failed to consider any explanation that could explain why Iraq was doing all these things. Instead, all claims of the report appeared to incriminate Iraq and underline their efforts to build an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. Had there been alternative explanation on such issues, the intelligence community could have averted the intelligence failure that underlined the invasion of Iraq by United States and its coalition partners like Britain and France.

Indeed, Iraq had acquired several materials in surreptitious means, but this did not necessarily imply that she was taking part in illegal programs such as manufacture of weapons of mass destruction. Iraq has acquired many products using front companies because it was avoiding UN sanctions, but it was not participating in illegal activities. Since the American intelligence, community overlooked this reason, and perceived Iraq as taking part in illegal activities; it wrongly concluded that she had a cache of weapons of mass destruction. The lack of critical analysis of evidence and consideration of alternative explanation thus compounded the making of incorrect judgment on Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction.

Denial and deception

The Iraqi denial and deception campaign made the UN report that Iraq could be hiding some weapons of mass destruction, though this was not the case. During the UN inspection of Iraq, the UN inspectors faced many challenges as Iraq could thwart the operations of the inspectors by hiding equipment and concealing evidence (Ellis & Kiefer, 2007). However, Iraqi denial and deception strategy did not imply that they had any weapons of mass destruction. Nonetheless, the American intelligence community believed that Iraqi had weapons of mass destruction, and that it was working hard to conceal them. As a result, the intelligence report emphasized that Iraqi could be developing more weapons of weapons of mass destruction that they thought. The reason behind the denial and deception among the Iraqi could not be tested to verify the reason. Due to the Iraqi’s denial and deception approach the issue of weapons of mass destruction. The American intelligence community concluded that Iraq concealed its weapons of mass destruction program because the UN inspector’s failure to find credible evidence linking Iraq and weapons of mass destruction program.

Failure of human intelligence

Various shortcomings of human intelligence contributed to the intelligence failure on judgment Iraq weapons of mass destruction threat. Most of the intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction programs was from human intelligence. The shortcoming of the human intelligence compounded the making of wrong assumptions about the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (Johnson, 2006). For instance, both the American and British had human sources, which did not direct information on weapons of mass destruction programs in Iraq. Similarly, the American intelligence community relied on UN inspectors who were in Iraq until 1998. Between 1998 and 2003, there was little information about Iraqi’s involvement in the production of weapons of mass destruction. The conclusions made on weapons of mass destruction were, therefore, wrong. Some information from human intelligence was misleading. At some point, a source revealed the Saddam’s government was relying on mobile units to produce biological weapons. Conversely, this information was untrue since it its source had an interest in portraying Iraq a producer of weapons of mass destruction.

Presence of analytical errors

The idea that Iraqi bought aluminum tubes to enhance its nuclear program was an analytical problem that had not been solved in the intelligence circle. The American intelligence community faulted in its reporting because it did not interrogate some of the evidence it received (Paulson, 2008). For instance, American intelligence community failed to note that Iraqi could use aluminum tubes to make rockets instead of enriching uranium. Therefore, the presence of analytical errors made the American intelligence community fail to make the correct inference on Iraqi’s involvement in the production of weapons of mass destruction. These errors underlined why there was a massive intelligence failure on the US prewar assessments on Iraq.


Intelligence reports indicated that Iraqi had weapons of mass destruction, but this was not true. After the invasion of Iraq in 2003, it turned out the Iraq had no weapons, and such programs were none existent.  This intelligence failure occurred due to excessive certainty in reports about Iraqi involvement in WMD. The American intelligence community also failed to consider alternative explanation so did it fail to understand Iraqi denial and deception campaign. The presence of analytical errors made and shortcoming of human intelligence all led to the intelligence failure. This is because the intelligence report inferred that Iraqi had weapons while they had none, which underscore the need of improvement in gathering of intelligence.


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