Thursday, March 31, 2005


The toothless WMD report

The WMD report is out. Its major accomplishment seems to be to completely destroy any credibility John McCain might have had, as well as to ensure that Chuck Robb will be remembered as a fool. (Co-chair Laurence Silberman is part of the Federalist cabal that forced Clinton to spend so much time defending himself and otherwise undermining American security that Silberman ought to take part credit for facilitating the 9/11 attacks). I don't advise reading the whole 618 page report. But try four simple searches: "Pentagon". "Cheney". "Rumsfeld" "Office of Special Plans". Welcome to Bizarro World, where what is public knowledge is deemed too sensitive for inclusion in government reports.
I submit that the WMD report is not so much toothless as deliberately deceptive.

It furthers the lie that Bush and his PNAC Platoon were misled by those awful people in the CIA and the State Department, when in fact the PNAC Platoonies were the ones who created the Office of Special Plans (aka the Office of Telling the PNAC Platoon Only What They Wanted to Hear).
A good case has been made (e.g., by Will Pitt) that some people in the intelligence community were doing their best to resist the falsification of intelligence.

But let's face it. The CIA and other intelligence agencies have functioned abysmally for years. Clinton's appointment of James Woolsey, a neocon, as head of the Agency was abysmal, one of his worst appointments. Clinton appointed Louis Freeh, one of the worst FBI directors that the Bureau has ever had-- and that's saying something. Bush has succeeded in making worse appointments, but not by much.

The intelligence agencies are dysfunctional. They failed to recognize bin Laden as a threat until he killed seventeen good men on the USS Cole. They failed to communicate information about al Qaida operatives to Customs and the FBI. They failed to listen to FBI field agents. Their translation departments have been penetrated, if we are to credit Sybil Edmonds, by our enemies. They are heavily politicized, heavily biased toward conservative white men, and incapable of handling a complex world where language and cultural skills count as much as computer savvy (which they also lack).

So, the intelligence agencies deserve a spanking. But they do not deserve to be made the scapegoat. There has been no leader who properly used intelligence since... maybe Carter. Or considering the whole Team B saga which Carter fell for, maybe Eisenhower or Truman.
Points taken, Charles. One yardstick of just how badly BushCo/PNAC has done is that they've managed to make the perennial screwups in the CIA and FBI look like models of competency by comparison.
And yes, appointing Louis Freeh was a colossal mistake. It didn't placate the right-wing smear machine; instead, sensing weakness, they hit even harder.

And Louis Freeh spent the greater part of his tenure looking for ways to undermine Clinton, instead of trying to protect the nation.
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