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Rumsfeld Explains Role of Defense Group Analyzing Intel

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2002 – Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld clarified today the role of a small group that's "poring over" intelligence reports in DoD's policy wing.

Shortly after Sept. 11, "a small group -- I think two to start with and maybe four now -- of people in the policy shop were asked to begin poring over this mountain of information that we were receiving of intelligence-type things," Rumsfeld said during a Pentagon media briefing.

The secretary was clarifying an account in a New York Times article today that suggested the DoD group is looking for ties between Iraq and al Qaeda that traditional intelligence assets had missed. The article also suggested Rumsfeld is unhappy with the intelligence information he is receiving from those traditional sources, such as the CIA.

Not so, Rumsfeld said.

"There is a very effective interaction going on" between the Defense Department and the CIA, he said, noting he receives a CIA brief every day.

"It is an excellent relationship between the Department of Defense and the intelligence community in this sense," he said. "(CIA Director) George Tenet and I couldn't have a closer relationship."

The secretary also dismissed the notion that this small group within the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy is collecting intelligence on its own.

Because intelligence information is generally the analyst's "best estimate," officials will receive conflicting opinions on the information's significance, Rumsfeld said.

"What comes out of intelligence are not fixed, firm conclusions," he said. "What comes out are speculation, analysis, probabilities, possibilities, estimates, assessments."

Then policy makers "take that information, look at it, think about it, and then make judgments off of it," he said.

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