The Senate has gingerly examined, apparently for the first time, what the CIA told them two years ago. Before this, they didn’t have time to question, to peruse, to use common sense, perhaps even to read what the CIA reports said and not just follow blindly the commands of the majority whip and our wild-eyed President.
Its preliminary report indicates that much of the information was bad, and blames the CIA. The CIA was a victim of groupthink; it "interpret[ed] ambiguous elements . . . as conclusive evidence…"; its corporate culture is broken. Ouch!
The CIA wasn’t pressured by anyone, either. It just produced boatloads of bulls%*t all on its own. Wrong, unreasonable, made no sense, by the boatload.
Normal people (this apparently excludes most members of Congress) would wonder why you would believe anything from the CIA or DIA on Iraq anyway, given we had had no real in-country assets or visibility for years. Not even a military attaché, or a tiny hovel of a CIA station in Baghdad or Basra. Last CIA agent we had in Ba-ath country was an illegal member of the Hans Blix team.
The CIA is the predominant intelligence agency, and the Director has authority over the whole shooting match. The community contains 15 different intelligence collecting organizations, over half of which belong to the Department of Defense. 80% of all intelligence funding is spent — and apparently wasted — by the Pentagon.
Thanks to a convenient reorganization by the all-knowing and also wild-eyed Secretary Rumsfeld, this consolidation of budget and product has been further stovepiped into an even more politically manageable entity, the Defense Under Secretary for Intelligence. The office is currently staffed by neoconservative loyalist and Claremont Institute alumni Stephen Cambone and his deputy, Bible-thumping warmonger General "Jerry" Boykin.
One wonders how long the rush to lay the blame in a neat package on the CIA corporate culture doorstep will distract the media from the obvious. With 80% of the cash, 80% of the blame may well flow to the Pentagon. But maybe, just maybe, the Pentagon will be OK.
Work with me here. Let’s think back to the Pentagon behavior during the rush to war in 2002 and 2003….
As I recall, Rumsfeld was calm, slow to act, and full of wisdom. He is the man who insists on facts and hard evidence, or was it absence of evidence? Never mind….
Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz claimed that Iraqis want democracy and we should support them in their goal of overthrowing Saddam Hussein from afar, given the lack of intelligence that would push us into any premature involvement in Baghdad. As a student of history, with a bloody painting of the Battle of Antietam dominating his office wall, Wolfowitz also understood the danger of war, the unintended consequences, the cost.
Under Secretary for Policy Doug Feith was telling anyone who would listen that while it is unfortunate that ugly dictatorships and human rights abusers exist in the world, sometimes it is pragmatic to deal with them, instead of bomb and occupy them. Feith would also remind us of all the oil we bought from Iraq under the oil for food program.
Who can forget the former Chair of the Defense Policy Board Richard Perle who said any invasion of Iraq on such grounds would be illegal! Oops, he said that after we occupied the country…. But I’m sure he said it many times before!
And of course, the Office of Special Plans was using its friendly backchannel to the Office of the Vice President to advise him that in the absence of reliable human intelligence regarding Iraq, the best policy would be a truly conservative one. The OSP surely told the Vice President that Iraq was in no position to threaten either her neighbors or the United States, and that containment of Saddam Hussein was working.
Isn’t that how you all remember it?
Many politicos in Washington hope against hope that this report will bag and tag the CIA with the Bush-Cheney festival of lies that have killed so many, for so little.
And like a flock of geese at the sound of a shotgun, they are nervously considering flight and looking for leadership.
Karen Kwiatkowski [send her mail] is a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, who spent her final four and a half years in uniform working at the Pentagon. She now lives with her freedom-loving family in the Shenandoah Valley, and writes a bi-weekly column on defense issues with a libertarian perspective for militaryweek.com.