The Job Should Have Gone to the Marx Brothers

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The
new Robb-Silberman report on U.S. intelligence capabilities should
but won't enrage Americans. Too long at 600 pages for most to read,
the report completes the destruction of the Intelligence Community
– especially the CIA – begun by Congress's Goss-Graham
inquiry and the wrong-headed, dissembling Kean-Hamilton Commission
and its predecessor, the Goss Graham Joint Congressional Inquiry

Like
a French farceu2018s final act, Robb and Silberman show the Republic
is run by men and women who will inflict any amount of pain on America
to avoid harming one of their own. This federal-level group amounts
to an unaccountable, murderously cynical aristocracy of power. Cowardly
senior bureaucrats and policymakers have failed to act on good intelligence
or misused bad intelligence; congressional oversight committees
ask puerile questions – it's politically safer not to know
– and deceitful senior bureaucrats dutifully give non-answers;
and presidents abscond with the constructional prerogative to declare
war from the pliant, derelict federal legislature.

The
aristocracy's shamefulness came home to roost on 9/11 and in Iraq.
Those responsible reached for the most reliable of all white-washers
– the blue-ribbon, special commission. These panels have been
stocked only with those who will reliably chant: "We are not
here to point fingers." Believing Americans are inattentive
yokels, the Commissions take testimony, ignore or bury truth, and
issue reports exculpating those who appointed them. What caused
3,000 dead on 9/11; 1,500-plus dead in Iraq; failure to eliminate
bin Laden; and the calamity-in-the-making of open borders and unenforced
immigration laws? Why the Intelligence Community's "structure"
of course! Americans are to believe that antiquated structure –
an inanimate object – caused multiple U.S. defeats. Case closed;
aristocracy safe; and Americans – like Union troops at Cold
Harbor – pinning on name tags to identify their corpses after
al-Qaeda's next strike

The
recent commissions have ensured Federal officials – elected
and appointed – and their senior bureaucrats are inviolably
protected by one rule: No one is responsible for anything at anytime,
ever. This phrase should placed on the Great Seal and used to prepare
America's obituary. Though too late to make a difference, lets review
several "serious" problems Robb-Silberman identify, but
for which no one is responsible.

  • Dissent/debate are
    not present in the Intelligence Community. This is not caused
    by "structure." Leaders alone promote debate or suppress
    it. The 1996 report detailing al-Qaeda's state-like effort to
    acquire WMD was suppressed for many months by senior CIA officers.
    They then wanted no debate on al-Qaeda's WMD program.

  • CIA
    officers doubted primary Iraq WMD source "Curveball,"
    and military analysts were skeptical of Iraq having UAV's to
    disperse chemical or biological weapons. "Structure"
    did stop keep these analyses from the White House, senior managers
    did.

  • The FBI does not share
    information with the Intelligence Community. Again, fault lies
    not with "structure," but with the astonishing, pathetic,
    and perhaps negligent failure of Judge Freeh and Mr. Mueller
    to purchase a reliable computer system.

  • The Intelligence Community
    lacks the expertise on Islamic extremism it had on the USSR
    Is this a "structure" problem or the failure of three
    DCI's – Woolsey, Deutch, and Tenet – who seem not
    to know the term "Islam" and mandated no training
    on the issue? Also, why have we expanded the Intelligence Community
    if, as Robb-Silberman says, there are no experts for thousands
    of new jobs?

  • No
    "Red Teams" challenged pre-war intelligence on Iraq.
    "Structure" creates nothing; mangers create Red Teams.
    It is an aberration in Community practice not to have had Iraq
    intelligence "red-teamed" before the war. The absence
    of Red Teams means Intelligence Community leaders knew the analytic
    answer they wanted, or were told by Administration officials
    the answer to deliver.

Hows
them apples? The Robb-Silberman report is the third coat of whitewash
meant to make Americans think effective intelligence reform is underway.
The commissions have produced institutional chaos and debilitating
bureaucratic growth, not movement toward reform that builds on Intelligence
Community strengths and better defends America. In a successful
effort to protect their patrons in the aristocracy of power, the
commissioners let the culpable escape. Worse, they saddled America
with the absurd Intelligence Community "structure" demanded
by the uninformed 9/11 families, installed by a Congress and President
who followed polls not conscience, and led by many of the same bureaucrats
who got us to 9/11 and Iraq.

After
the commissions' failures help al-Qaeda detonate a nuclear device
in the United States, Americans must ensure the next Commission
has individuals animated by the spirit of those anti-aristocratic
paragons, the Marx Brothers. For Americans, trusting their childrens'
and nation's future to Groucho, Chico, Harpo, and Zeppo will be
infinitely preferable and safer to relying on more commissioners
like Goss, Graham, Hamilton, Kean, Robb, and Silberman.

April
21, 2005

Michael
Scheuer [send him mail] is
the author of Imperial
Hubris and Through Our Enemies’ Eyes
. He recently resigned
after 22 years at the CIA.

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