Intelligence, Wars, and Cake

Apparently, some people can have their cake and eat it too. The people who were the policy makers in charge during the lead-up and invasion of Iraq fall into that category.

Consider the recent report (see post: Faulty intelligence, Congress, and Steroids) by the Commission on Intelligence Capabilities. The commission, appointed by what should have been one of the targets of its investigation (policy makers), sliced and diced the intelligence community but did not look into the Administration's potential influence on the outcome of the report by those very same communities.

On 3/31, Charles Robb and co-chairman Laurence Silberman, gave a briefing (C-Span video) on the report. To their momentary credit, reporters briefly focused on the glaring omission of any investigation into the Administration. After much side-stepping, the co-chairs flatly stated that their mandate did not call for them to investigate the policy makers (Administration).

That, in and of itself, is quite a story. After all, one must consider the following:

1) The commission was appointed by a potential target of the investigation;

2) The potential target issued orders for it to be left out of the investigation;

3) The potential target then instructed the commissioners to present the report as a full investigation.

In their defense, the commissioners stated that they couldn't find anyone who claimed undue influence was exerted by the Administration over them. They must not have looked far because a stone's throw away, approximately one year ago, Rep. Conyers(D) held unofficial hearings (since the Republican leadership refused to hold any hearings on the subject) that clearly indicated that there was a lot of pressure emanating from the Administration. The influence included, but was not limited to, "sleep-overs" by Powell and constant trips by Cheney to the CIA as well as the alleged creation of a special intelligence office in the Pentagon designed for providing intelligence information on Iraq.

Despite the lack of any investigation into the Administration's role, despite questions of who said what to whom (Tenet, now beyond the hand that fed him, recently repudiated the report), despite the FBI's questioning of the report, despite the background from insiders that the Iraq invasion was going to occur regardless of intelligence results (see Powell, Clarke, Woodward, Wolfowitz, etc.), many of the morning papers and newscasts simply presented the story with a derivative of the conclusionary statment that faulty intelligence was relied upon by (the powers that be) and that the reports, therefore, were responsible for the invasion of Iraq.

The point is moot. Those who, according to the report, failed miserably (intelligence community) had their cake and are still eating it. Tenet received was given a Presidential Medal of Honor and the FBI leadership has been left unscathed. In fact, FBI leadership has received high praise from the Administration. Policy makers involved either kept their jobs or received promotions.

The blame was squarely placed on easy targets- organizations and reports. Both are faceless and nobody can empathize with either. Nobody, that is, except for the non-leadership people who work in the buildings (and in the field) risking their lives to generate reports that, depending on the whims of policy makers, can be so badly disfigured that they are unrecognizable by the authors.

That is not so easily dismissed with, "poor intelligence led to the invasion of Iraq".


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