Sunday, March 11, 2007

Same old song and dance

Slate’s Daniel Benjamin does a good job of pointing out just how catastrophically wrong and ideologically-motivated the Bush Administration’s efforts to cast aside professional intelligence estimates were during the run-up to the Iraq War. The Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group, created by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz at Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s behest, and headed by Doug Feith, appears to have been bound and determined, by whatever nebulous, uncertain, and downright mendacious means, to demonstrate a web of terror with Saddam Hussein reigning in the center. It has become abundantly clear that Feith’s conclusions were wrong.

This has all happened before. During the Ford Administration, Chief of Staff Dick Cheney (yes, that Cheney) and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (yes, that Rumsfeld) became – along with a group of ideological allies – convinced that the Soviet Union had developed a silent, super ballistic-missile submarine (the inspiration, no doubt, for Tom Clancy’s Red October) that could rain destruction down on American heads. The Central Intelligence Agency disagreed, stating that there was absolutely no indication that such a submarine existed. Enraged, Cheney and Rumsfeld created an entity within the Department of Defense called Team B – which would later become the Committee on the Present Danger, a collection of neoconservatives and hawks mobilized against Communism. Team B was organized by then-CIA director George H.W. Bush and included Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Pipes (key players in the CTEG). Many reports were made, many a hearing held, all for naught, though, because the Soviets had no such submarine.

The love for the tactic held, however. When the intelligence professionals refuse to abide by the conclusions you have reached with such certainty, the solution is obviously to sideline the disloyal and create an alternate program to bolster one’s claims. It helps when the alternate program is staffed by your fellow travelers.

The CTEG (or Office of Special Plans as, its Iraq-specific section was called) exists still, in an incarnation known as the Directorate for Iran. The Iranian Directorate is engaged in similar intelligence cherry-picking as CETG and OSP. Though concern that President Bush will unilaterally declare war on Iran is probably overblown, the real concern is that the Bush Administration appears to be actively manufacturing situations in which they can claim that Iran provoked the need for military action.

This process would be helped immensely if the people searching for such intelligence had long ago reached their conclusions and were simply looking for supporting evidence. And as you can see, there isn’t exactly a lack of precedence in that department.

[This post originally appeared on Often Right, Rarely Correct --ed.]

1 comment:

  1. Now posted at:
    Finding Closure: Contest for an Epitaph for the Iraq War Begins Today
    (Originally posted March 10, 2007)
    Americans. We must take responsibility for the actions of our government and our corporations. We must act now to make sure our soldiers have not died or been injured in vain. We must admit when we have failed. Learn from our mistakes. And move on to create something positive from our failures. What does the Iraq War mean to you? Where do we go from here? Please submit your own epitaph for the death of the War itself. Post your entry as a comment or send it in an email to Sponsoships and links to web sites that encourage dialogue about the War are also welcome. Weekly Winners and Prizes to be announced.
    From the tears and ashes of our countryman must come an enlightenment and new dedication to truth and love.

    Epitaph for the Iraq War
    Iraq War
    March 20,2003 to ASAP

    Election tied
    Leaders lied
    America tried
    And with Pride
    Americans died
    Those on each side
    Were sad & horrified
    Our nation is petrified
    But must reverse the tide
    They're no longer glorified
    The murderers can never hide


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