It’s ‘Blame the CIA’ Week

The report of the 9/11 Commision dumps most of the blame for faulty intelligence into the lap of the CIA as if everything that we now know about the interference of Cheney and Doug Feith’s two–count ’em: TWO–Amateur Night end-runs to stovepipe raw data nobody in either the OSP or C-TEC was capable of evaluating, didn’t exist. Yet the report itself shows instance after instance when CIA analysts’ doubts were simply erased as their work went up the chain of command, most infamously with regard to the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate in which words like ‘maybe’ he had WMD’s and ‘possibly’ he might ‘someday’ have a nuclear capability were removed to turn their doubts into assertions and finally definite statements.

This is the old corporate practice of taking the reports and projections of the sales and development depts and removing any ‘negativity’ until finally they say exactly what upper-level management has decided the stockholders and Wall Street want to hear even if the reports no longer bear any relation to the company’s real position as a result. CEO’s and CFO’s make the decisions about the future direction of the corporation and the rest of the company is expected to fall into line and support those decisions in its reports–the exact bass-ackwards process that led to Iraq: ‘We’ve already decided what we’re going to do; you’re job is to prop up that decision: support it, explain it, defend it, find us the excuses for it.’ As Tom Engelhardt points out, the BA’s ex-corporate honchos were out on the road selling their decision to the stockholders (us) months before the decision had supposedly been made.

Remember, long before that NIE was produced, top administration figures were already out on the national and international hustings selling their wares and their prospective war with their own “intelligence” right at the tips of their tongues. As Dick Cheney, for instance, said in August 2002 speech to the VFW, “Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction”; while the President addressed the UN General Assembly thusly in September of that year, “Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons,” and so on, ad nauseam. And keep in mind, they already had their own outfit, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith’s Office of Special Plans (OSP), set up in the Pentagon in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, to create a perfect storm of intelligence exactly to the administration’s liking.

Furthermore, the Commission’s conclusion that they ‘did not find any evidence that administration officials attempted to coerce, influence or pressure [CIA] analysts to change their judgments related to Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction capabilities’ manages to ignore testimony to the contrary in their own report. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi suggests that the reason for this incongruity is the limitation on the Commission’s mandate.

Although the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report is properly critical of the intelligence produced on Iraq, it does not tell the whole story.Since weapons of mass destruction have not been found in Iraq, it is clear that the intelligence case for military action was not supported by the facts. Because the White House was not a subject of the investigation, many critical questions remain: How were the misperceptions about weapons of mass destruction and Iraq’s link to terrorism created? By whom? And why?

It is one thing to have bad intelligence, it quite another to mischaracterize that intelligence. Congress must investigate whether the intelligence on Iraq was misused or manipulated. (emphasis added)

But that doesn’t really explain their mysterious disregard of much of the evidence; C-TEC was in the WH, working out of Cheney’s office, but the OSP was in the Pentagon, which was NOT off the table for them. And where is the usual background brief? Normally such a report would include a history of events leading up to those under investigation, and any legitimate history would have had to include the systematic denigration of the CIA by the neocon stalwarts, Gingrich acolytes, and PNAC alumni who riddle Bush’s security establishment, their enthrallment with Laurie Mylroie’s crackpot Saddam theories, and their open-mouthed, wide-eyed acceptance of the untested assertions of Chalabi’s ‘defectors’–who the CIA is on record as warning were unreliable. A background brief would have–as it’s supposed to–provided a context within which to evaluate not just the intelligence analyses themselves but the atmosphere in which they were made and the expectations they were supposed to fulfill.

The Commission’s evidence doesn’t support its conclusion that the WH is devoid of responsibility for the debacle, and dumping the blame on the CIA alone simply isn’t credible.

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