CIA expected Iraqis to wave US flags after invasion

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WASHINGTON : The CIA was so convinced Iraqis would warmly greet US troops that it proposed smuggling hundreds of small American flags into Iraq ahead of the 2003 invasion, to give them something to wave at the soldiers, a report said.

The New York Times cited unnamed intelligence officials as saying the CIA was planning to capture the event on film and beam it throughout the Arab world, taking credit for what it called the "ultimate information operation."

The report said the plan was killed by Lieutenant General David McKiernan, the commander of allied ground forces, who was concerned about the Americans being perceived as an occupying army.

However, the Central Intelligence Agency believed that many of the Iraqi towns were "ours," the daily said.

"At first, it was going to be US flags," the paper quotes one former intelligence official as saying, "And then it was going to be Iraqi flags. The flags are probably still sitting in a bag somewhere. One of the towns where they said we would be welcomed was Nasiriyah, where Marines faced some of the toughest fighting in the war."

Just as the intelligence about Iraq's presumed stockpiles of unconventional weapons proved wrong, so did much of the information provided to those prosecuting the war and planning the occupation, The Times said.

The CIA failed to predict the role played by Saddam Hussein's paramilitary forces, which mounted the main attacks on US troops in southern Iraq and surprised them in bloody battles, according to the report.

The agency was aware that Iraq was awash in arms but failed to identify the huge caches of weapons that were hidden in mosques and schools to supply enemy fighters, the paper pointed out.

It said US intelligence agencies had also underestimated the decrepit state of Iraq's infrastructure, which became a major challenge in reconstructing the nation, and concluded erroneously that Iraq's police had had extensive professional training.

The top US intelligence agency has been in the firing line for several months now over the information it supplied ahead of the March 2003 invasion -- CIA director George Tenet resigned in June in what was widely believed a consequence of intelligence on Iraq's non-existent weapons of mass destruction


I think some people in washington were too confident!!!! :?