CIA officer speaks on Iraq war failures

By: Bryan Trude, Feature Editor

VOICE (Vocal Oklahomans In Civic Engagement) hosted an open campus lecture featuring Donald Hughes of the CIA Wednesday, Oct. 27 in the Main Dining Room.

The lecture, entitled “Iraq 2002: Where Are The Weapons,” was Hughes analysis over “the intelligence community’s failures in its assessment of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) capabilities prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom.”

“How did we get to this point?” Hughes asked. “We were wrong about WMDs in Iraq, how did we mess that up?”

According to Hughes, who referred to the lecture as “an entire [college] course compressed into an hour,” attributed American intelligence failures in Iraq to several factors.

“After the [Berlin Wall] fell, the CIA’s job didn’t get any easier. Instead, it got a whole lot harder,” Hughes said. “Instead of trying to figure out what the Soviet Union was doing, we had to figure out what a bunch of smaller states and groups were doing.”

Hughes also cited an overreliance on second hand information from other countries, which he said was “often old or dated,” and was therefore unreliable. He additionally cited a lack of direct CIA presence in Iraq following the departure of the United Nations Special Commission. The responsibility of the commission was to inspect Iraqi weapons programs, but it was disbanded in 1999.

Hughes is the CIA Officer in Residence (OIR) at the University of Oklahoma. The OIR program is “designed to contribute to the study of national security issues while providing a real world practical prospective on intelligence-related matters.”

Prior to joining the CIA in 2000, Hughes was an officer in the U.S. Army, and spent three years in Brazil to improve the nation’s ability to “exert its sovereignty over the Brazilian Amazon,” according to the VOICE club.

VOICE, established to get students more involved in politics and the democratic process, holds meetings on the first and third Thursday of every month at 2 p.m. in the Learning Resources Center. For more information on VOICE, e-mail advisor Dr. John Wood at or by calling 405-733-7413.

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