Jeffrey LewisCuba BW Effort Revisited

Continuing the Cuba BW thread, The Report of the Select Committee on Intelligence on the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq contains the backstory on Undersecretary Bolton’s effort to distort intelligence regarding Cuba.

The New York Times contained no reference either to this story or the fact that it appears in the Select Committee’s report. It offers considerable context to explain why INR is issuing a new assessment on the Cuban BW program:

(U) When Chairman Roberts asked whether analysts had been pressured to change their assessments at a Committee hearing on June 19,2003, one analyst stood up and said that he had “some encounters involving some pressure” but noted that he had not changed his assessments as a result of that pressure. The analyst agreed to meet with Committee staff following the hearing to discuss the issue.

(U) The analyst told Committee staff that his concerns about being pressured were not related to Iraq, but rather to an incident that had occurred with the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security concerning Cuba’s BW program. The analyst had received a routine request to declassify language concerning Cuba’s BW program for a speech that the Under Secretary intended to give in an open forum. The analyst told Committee staff that the text of the Under Secretary’s speech contained a sentence which said that the U.S. believes Cuba has a developmental, offensive biological warfare program and is providing assistance to other rogue state programs. The text also called for international observers of Cuba’s biological facilities. The analyst said the portion of the speech he was given contained top secret codeword information.

(U) The analyst said he e-mailed the text to the demarche coordinator at the CIA who handles interagency reviews of declassification requests, with a note stating that INR “did NOT” concur with the Under Secretary’s text. The analyst proposed alternative language in the e-mail which said, “Cuba has demonstrated that it is committed to developing a highly advanced biotechnology infrastructure and to arranging foreign collaboration with rogue states that could involve proliferation of dual-use technologies to countries assessed to have BW programs.” The analyst said that he removed the text calling for international observers of Cuba’s biological facilities.

(U) The analyst said he made most of the changes to the speech because he was attempting to make the speech unclassified, not because he believed it was factually incorrect. He said that the only portion of the original speech language relating to Cuba’s BW program that differed from IC judgments was the use of the word “program” in the sentence, “Cuba has a developmental, offensive biological warfare program.” The analyst said the IC used the term “effort” rather than “program.” The analyst also said, however, that he removed the sentence calling for observers at Cuba’s biological facilities because ”… in general we had real concerns about inspections or other people doing inspections of facilities, giving them a clean bill of health when we knew that it would be quite easy to hide illicit activity, so that the inspection methodology is problematic.” He also said that the text mentioned a specific facility which he believed would have exposed sources and methods.

(U) The analyst said that the Under Secretary had obtained a copy of his e-mail to the CIA and called him in to the Under Secretary’s office. The analyst said the Under Secretary “berated him,” accused him of countermanding an Under Secretary and of trying to rewrite the Under Secretary’s speech. The analyst said that six months after the incident, when his new office director met with the Under Secretary, the Under Secretary asked to have the analyst removed from his current worldwide chemical and biological weapons portfolio. *The analyst said he was not removed from his portfolio and did not suffer any negative effects professionally, however, *he was instructed by his supervisors to limit his contact with the Under Secretary’s office.

(U) The analyst also told Committee staff that he believed there was *“a hostile climate between [INR’s] judgments and what the [office of the Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security] wanted to say.” *He said INR, “was not being listened to,” but the office was listening to CIA instead.

(U) State Department e-mails provided to the Committee indicate that the analyst’s supervisor contacted the Under Secretary’s office following this incident to explain that the analyst should not have offered alternative language in his e-mail for clearance from the IC without discussing the matter with the Under Secretary. One of the supervisors noted that the analyst’s “choice of the phrase ‘does not concur’ was entirely inappropriate.” The supervisor’s e-mail said that the INR interest is in ensuring that sources and methods are protected and that “policymakers know whether we think what they propose to say is clearly supported, unsupported, or pushing the evidence as evaluated by IC analysts.” He indicated that the analyst was trying to flag where he believed the draft went beyond IC consensus. As mentioned previously, however, the analyst told Committee staff that the changes he had suggested were not because he believed the text deviated from the IC’s judgment. He said the only difference between the speech text and the IC judgments was that the speech referenced a biological “program” while the IC used the term “effort.” The text as rewritten by the analyst made more changes than replacing “program” with “effort.”

(U) Ultimately, the IC cleared language for use in the speech which said, “The United States believes that Cuba has at least a limited offensive biological warfare research and development effort. Cuba has provided dual-use biotechnology to other rogue states. We are concerned that such technology could support BW programs in those states. We call on Cuba to cease all BW-applicable cooperation with rogue states and to fully comply with all of its obligations under the Biological Weapons Convention.” Brackets in original, Emphasis added.

Unbelievable, huh? Bolton wants to hammer Cuba, so he simply lies (Cuba has a program!). When an INR analyst, Christian Westerman, points out that Cuba doesn’t have a program, Bolton berates him and tries to have him fired.

I can’t believe the New York Times missed this. Douglas Jehl had two stories on the analyst, named Christian Westermann:

  • “After the War: Intelligence; Expert Said to Tell Legislators He Was Pressed to Distort Some Evidence,” (June 25, 2003) A11
  • “After the War: Weapons; Powell Hails Man Who Cited Pressure on Iraq Data,” (June 28, 2003) A6.

Then Bolton lied about it to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, claiming that Westermann “tried to change a sentence that was a direct quotation from an intelligence community product” and “was overruled by his own superiors in the intelligence community.”

Thanks for Paul Kerr at the Arms Control Association for pointing this out, including the name of the analyst.