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Indeed, a covert-intelligence officer working for the ISG told TIME correspondent Brian Bennett that he had been ordered in August 2003 to "terminate" contact with Iraqi sources not working on WMD. As a result, the officer says, he stopped meeting with a dozen Iraqis who were providing information--maps, photographs and addresses of former Baathist militants, safe houses and stockpiles of explosives--about the insurgency in the Mosul area. "The President's priority--and my mission--was to focus on WMD," Kay told TIME. "Abizaid needed help with the counterinsurgency. He said, 'You have the only organization in this country that's working.' But military guys are not used to people telling them no, and so, yes, there was friction."
Sanchez learned that autumn that there were 38 boxes of documents specifically related to the city of Fallujah, a hotbed of Sunni rebellion. Months later, when military-intelligence officers finally were able to review some of the documents, many of which had been marked NO INTELLIGENCE VALUE, the officers found information that they now say could have helped the U.S. stop the insurgency's spread. Among the papers were detailed civil-defense plans for cities like Fallujah, Samarra and Ramadi and rosters of leaders and local Baathist militia who would later prove to be the backbone of the insurgency in those cities.
U.S. military-intelligence sources say many of the documents still have not been translated or thoroughly analyzed. "You should see the warehouse in Qatar where we have this stuff," said a high-ranking former U.S. intelligence official. "We'll never be able to get through it all. Who knows?" he added, with a laugh. "We may even find the VX [nerve gas] in one of those boxes."
MISJUDGING THE ENEMY
As early as June 2003, the CIA told Bush in a briefing that he faced a "classic insurgency" in Iraq. But the White House didn't fully trust the CIA, and on June 30, Rumsfeld told reporters, "I guess the reason I don't use the term guerrilla war is that it isn't ... anything like a guerrilla war or an organized resistance." The opposition, he claimed, was composed of "looters, criminals, remnants of the Baathist regime" and a few foreign fighters. Indeed, Rumsfeld could claim progress in finding and capturing most of the 55 top members of Saddam's regime--the famous Iraqi deck of cards. (To date, 44 of the 55 have been captured or killed.) Two weeks after Rumsfeld's comment, the Secretary of Defense was publicly contradicted by Centcom commander Abizaid, who said the U.S. indeed faced "a classical guerrilla-type campaign" in Iraq.