Paul Pillar, the CIA's senior intelligence analyst for the Middle East
from 2000 to 2005, has written a critique of the Bush administration's
handling of pre-war intelligence on Iraq that, in effect, corroborates
in accusing the Bush administration of rigging the evidence to justify
British memo recounted a July 23, 2002, meeting in which
Richard Dearlove, chief of the British intelligence agency MI6, told
Prime Minister Tony Blair about discussions in Washington with George W.
Bush's top national security officials. “Bush wanted to remove Saddam,
through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and
WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy,”
Dearlove said, according to the minutes.
After the “Downing Street Memo” was revealed in
Great Britain in 2005, Bush's spokesmen heatedly denied its claims and
major U.S. news outlets
significance. But in
the upcoming issue of
Foreign Affairs magazine, Pillar offers a matching account. He wrote
that the administration didn't just play games with the traditional
notion that objective analysis should inform responsible policy, but
the entire model upside down.”
“The administration used intelligence not to
inform decision-making, but to justify a decision already made,” Pillar
wrote. “The Bush administration deviated from the professional standard
not only in using policy to drive intelligence, but also in aggressively
using intelligence to win public support for its decision to go to war.
This meant selectively adducing data -- 'cherry-picking' -- rather than
using the intelligence community's own analytic judgments.”
These two accounts -- which are further
bolstered by first-hand statements from former counterterrorism chief
Richard Clarke, former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and Colin
Powell's former chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson -- reveal an
administration long determined to invade Iraq and assembling reasons
that would scare the American people into supporting an unprovoked war.
Yet, while the American public has a right to be
furious about getting tricked into a war that has killed nearly 2,300
U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis, there are other concerns
about why the U.S. intelligence community let itself be so manipulated,
staying silent when a strong protest to Congress might have derailed
On Oct. 23, 2003, Consortiumnews.com addressed
this longer-range question of why U.S. intelligence failed.
which is reprinted in an updated form below, shows that the
politicization of intelligence has been a goal of neoconservative
operatives for three decades. They have long understood the value of
turning the principle of objective analysis on its head:
Clancy’s political thriller “Sum of All Fears,” the United States and
Russia are being pushed to the brink of nuclear war by neo-Nazi
terrorists who have detonated a nuclear explosion in Baltimore and want
the Americans to blame the Russians.
CIA analysts have
pieced together the real story but can’t get it to the president. “The
president is basing his decisions on some really bad information,”
analyst Jack Ryan (Ben Affleck) pleads to a U.S. general. “My orders are
to get the right information to the people who make the decisions.”
Though a bit corny,
Ryan’s dialogue captures the credo of professional intelligence
analysts. Solid information, they believe, must be the foundation for
sound decisions, especially when lives and the national security are at
stake. The battle over that principle is the real back story to the
dispute over Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction. It is a story
of how the CIA’s vaunted analytical division has been corrupted – or
“politicized” – by right-wing ideologues over the past quarter century.
Some key officials in
George W. Bush’s administration – from former Deputy Defense Secretary
Paul Wolfowitz to Vice President Dick Cheney – have long been part of
this trend toward seeing intelligence as an ideological weapon, rather
than a way to inform a full debate. Other figures in Bush’s circle of
advisers, including his father, the former president and CIA director,
have played perhaps even more central roles in this transformation.
[More on this below. Also see Robert Parry's
Secrecy & Privilege.]
For his part, the
younger George Bush has shown little but disdain for any information
that puts his policies or “gut” judgments in a negative light. In that
sense, Bush’s thin skin toward contradiction can’t be separated from the
White House campaign, beginning in July 2003, to discredit retired
Ambassador Joseph Wilson for publicly debunking the Bush
administration’s claim that Iraq had tried to buy yellowcake uranium
from Niger. That retaliation included the exposure of Wilson’s wife as
an undercover CIA officer.
Dating Back to
Though one cost of
corrupting U.S. intelligence can now be counted in the growing U.S.
death toll in Iraq, the origins of the current problem can be traced
back to the mid-1970s, when conservatives were engaged in fierce
rear-guard defenses after the twin debacles of the Vietnam War and
Watergate. In 1974, after Republican President Richard Nixon was driven
from office over the Watergate political-spying scandal, the Republicans
suffered heavy losses in congressional races. The next year, the U.S.
–backed government in South Vietnam fell.
At this crucial
juncture, a group of influential conservatives coalesced around a
strategy of accusing the CIA’s analytical division of growing soft on
communism. These conservatives – led by the likes of Richard Pipes, Paul
Nitze, William Van Cleave, Max Kampelman, Eugene Rostow, Elmo Zumwalt
and Richard Allen – claimed that the CIA’s Soviet analysts were ignoring
Moscow’s aggressive strategy for world domination. This political
assault put in play one of the CIA’s founding principles – objective
Since its creation in
1947, the CIA had taken pride in maintaining an analytical division that
stayed above the political fray. The CIA analysts – confident if not
arrogant about their intellectual skills – prided themselves in bringing
unwanted news to the president’s door. Those reports included an
analysis of Soviet missile strength that contradicted John F. Kennedy’s
“missile gap” rhetoric or the debunking of Lyndon Johnson’s assumptions
about the effectiveness of bombing in Vietnam. While the CIA’s
operational division got itself into trouble with risky schemes, the
analytical division maintained a fairly good record of scholarship and
But that tradition
came under attack in 1976 when conservative outsiders demanded and were
granted access to the CIA’s strategic intelligence on the Soviet Union.
Their goal was to contest the analytical division’s assessments of
Soviet capabilities and intentions. The conservatives saw the CIA’s
tempered analysis of Soviet behavior as the underpinning of
then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s strategy of détente, the
gradual normalizing of relations with the Soviet Union. Détente was, in
effect, a plan to negotiate an end to the Cold War or at least its most
This CIA view of a
tamer Soviet Union had enemies inside Gerald Ford’s administration.
Hard-liners, such as William J. Casey, John Connally, Clare Booth Luce
and Edward Teller, sat on the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory
Board. Another young hard-liner, Dick Cheney, was Ford’s chief of staff.
Donald Rumsfeld was then – as he is today – the secretary of defense.
The concept of a
conservative counter-analysis, which became known as “Team B,” had been
opposed by the previous CIA director, William Colby, as in inappropriate
intrusion into the integrity of the CIA’s analytical product. But the
new CIA director, a politically ambitious George H.W. Bush, was ready to
acquiesce to the right-wing pressure.
“Although his top
analysts argued against such an undertaking, Bush checked with the White
House, obtained an O.K., and by May 26  signed off on the
experiment with the notation, ‘Let her fly!!,” wrote Anne Hessing Cahn
after reviewing “Team B” documents that were released more than a decade
ago. [See “Team
B: The Trillion Dollar Experiment,” The Bulletin of the Atomic
The senior George Bush
offered the rationale that Team B would simply be an intellectual
challenge to the CIA’s official assessments. The elder Bush’s rationale,
however, assumed that Team B didn’t have a pre-set agenda to fashion a
worst-case scenario for launching a new and intensified Cold War. What
was sometimes called Cold War II would demand hundreds of billions of
dollars in taxpayers’ money for military projects, including big-ticket
items like a missile-defense system. [One member of Team B, retired Lt.
Gen. Daniel Graham, would become the father of Ronald Reagan “Star Wars”
missile defense system.]
Not surprisingly, Team
B did produce a worst-case scenario of Soviet power and intentions.
Gaining credibility from its access to secret CIA data, Team B
challenged the assessment of the CIA’s professional analysts who held a
less alarmist view of Moscow’s capabilities and intentions. “The
principal threat to our nation, to world peace and to the cause of human
freedom is the Soviet drive for dominance based upon an unparalleled
military buildup,” wrote three Team B members Pipes, Nitze and Van
Team B also brought to
prominence another young neo-conservative, Paul Wolfowitz. A quarter
century later, Wolfowitz would pioneer the post-Cold War strategy of
U.S. preemptive wars against countries deemed potential threats by
using the same technique of filtering the available intelligence to
build a worst-case scenario. In 2001, George W. Bush made Wolfowitz
deputy secretary of defense under Rumsfeld.
Though Team B’s
analysis of the Soviet Union as a rising power on the verge of
overwhelming the United States is now recognized by intelligence
professionals and many historians as a ludicrous fantasy, it helped
shape the national security debate in the late 1970s. American
conservatives and neo-conservatives wielded the analysis like a club to
bludgeon more moderate Republicans and Democrats, who saw a declining
Soviet Union desperate for arms control and other negotiations.
Scary assessments of
Soviet power and U.S. weakness also fueled Ronald Reagan’s campaign in
1980, and after his election, the Team B hard-liners had the keys to
power. As Reagan and his vice presidential running mate, George H.W.
Bush, prepared to take office, the hard-liners wrote Reagan’s transition
team report, which suggested that the CIA analytical division was not
simply obtuse in its supposed failure to perceive Soviet ascendancy, but
“These failures are of
such enormity,” the transition team report said, “that they cannot help
but suggest to any objective observer that the agency itself is
compromised to an unprecedented extent and that its paralysis is
attributable to causes more sinister than incompetence.” [For details,
see Mark Perry’s Eclipse.]
With Reagan in power,
the Team B analysis of Soviet capabilities and intentions became the
basis for a massive U.S. military buildup. It also was the justification
for U.S. support of brutal right-wing governments in Central America and
Since Soviet power was
supposedly on the rise and rapidly eclipsing the United States, it
followed that even peasant uprisings against “death squad” regimes in El
Salvador or Guatemala must be part of a larger Soviet strategy of world
conquest, an assault on the “soft underbelly” of the U.S. southern
border. Any analysis of these civil wars as primarily local conflicts
arising from long-standing social grievances was dismissed as fuzzy
thinking or worse.
In the first few
months of the Reagan administration, the hard-liners’ animosity toward
the CIA’s analytical division intensified as it resisted a series of
accusations against the Soviet Union. The CIA analysts were obstacles to
the administration’s campaign to depict Moscow as responsible for
virtually all acts of international terrorism, including the attempted
assassination of Pope John Paul II in Rome in 1981.
With William Casey
installed as CIA director and also serving in Reagan’s Cabinet, the
assault on the analytical division moved into high gear. Casey put the
analytical division under the control of his protégé, Robert Gates, who
had made his name as an anti-Soviet hard-liner. Gates then installed a
new bureaucracy within the DI, or Directorate of Intelligence, with his
loyalists in key positions.
“The CIA’s objectivity
on the Soviet Union ended abruptly in 1981, when Casey became the DCI
[director of central intelligence] – and the first one to be a member of
the president’s Cabinet. Gates became Casey’s deputy director for
intelligence in 1982 and chaired the National Intelligence Council,”
wrote former CIA senior analyst Melvyn Goodman. [See Foreign Policy
magazine, summer 1997.]
Analysts Under Fire
Under Gates, CIA
intelligence analysts found themselves the victims of bureaucratic
pummeling. According to several former CIA analysts whom I interviewed,
analysts faced job threats; some were berated or even had their
analytical papers thrown in their faces; some were subjected to
allegations of psychiatric unfitness.
The Gates leadership
team proved itself responsive to White House demands, giving serious
attention to right-wing press reports from around the world. The Reagan
administration, for instance, wanted evidence to support right-wing
media claims that pinned European terrorism on the Soviets. The CIA
analysts, however, knew the charges were bogus partly because they were
based on “black” or false propaganda that the CIA's operations division
had been planting in the European media.
assassination of Pope John Paul II in 1981 was viewed as another
opportunity to make propaganda points against what Reagan called the
“evil empire.” Though the attack had been carried out by a neo-fascist
extremist from Turkey, conservative U.S. writers and journalists began
to promote allegations of a secret KGB role. In this case, CIA analysts
knew the charges were false because of the CIA’s penetration of East
Bloc intelligence services.
But responding to
White House pressure in 1985, Gates closeted a special team to push
through an administration-desired paper linking the KGB to the attack.
Though the analysts opposed what they believed to be a dishonest
intelligence report, they couldn’t stop the paper from leaving CIA and
being circulated around Washington.
As the CIA’s
traditions of analytical objectivity continued to erode in the 1980s,
analysts who raised unwelcome questions in politically sensitive areas
found their jobs on the line.
For instance, analysts
were pressured to back off an assessment that Pakistan was violating
nuclear proliferation safeguards with the goal of building an atomic
bomb. At the time, Pakistan was assisting the Reagan administration’s
covert operation in Afghanistan, which was considered a higher priority
than stopping the spread of nuclear weapons. In Afghanistan, the CIA’s
operations division and the Pakistani intelligence service were helping
Islamic fundamentalists, including Osama bin Laden, battle Soviet
One analyst involved
in the Pakistan nuclear-bomb assessment told me that the CIA higher-ups
applied almost the opposite standards that were used two decades later
in alleging an Iraqi nuclear program. In the Pakistani case, the Reagan
administration blocked warnings about a Pakistani bomb “until the last
bolt was turned” while more recently on Iraq, speculative worst-case
scenarios were applied, the analyst said.
One consequence of
giving Pakistan a pass on proliferation was that Pakistan did succeed in
developing nuclear weapons, which have contributed to an escalating arms
race with India in South Asia. It also has created the potential for
Islamic extremists to gain control of the Bomb by taking power in
Missing the Fall
The politicization of
intelligence in the 1980s had other effects. Under pressure always to
exaggerate the Soviet threat, analysts had no incentive to point out the
truth, which was that the Soviet Union was a decaying, corrupt and
inefficient regime tottering on the brink of collapse. To justify
soaring military budgets and interventions in Third World conflicts, the
Reagan administration wanted the Soviets always to be depicted as 10
systematic distortion of the CIA’s Soviet intelligence assessments
turned out to be a political win-win for Reagan and his supporters.
Not only did Congress
appropriate hundreds of billions of dollars for military projects
favored by the conservatives, the U.S. news media largely gave Reagan
the credit when the Soviet Union “suddenly” collapsed in 1991. The CIA
did take some lumps for “missing” one of the most significant political
events of the century, but Reagan’s success in “winning the Cold War” is
now enshrined as conventional wisdom.
The accepted version
of events goes this way: the Soviets were on the ascendance before
Reagan took office, but thanks to Reagan’s strategic missile defense
program and his support for right-wing insurgencies, such as arming
contra rebels in Nicaragua and Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan,
the Soviet Union fell apart.
A more realistic
assessment would point out that the Soviets had been in decline for
decades, largely from the devastation caused by World War II and the
effective containment strategies followed by presidents from Harry
Truman and Dwight Eisenhower to Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. The rapid
development of technology in the West and the lure of Western consumer
goods accelerated this Soviet collapse.
But the U.S. news
media never mounted a serious assessment of how the Cold War really was
won. The conservative press corps naturally pressed its favored theme of
Reagan turning the tide, while a complacent mainstream press offered
little additional context.
The plight of the CIA
analysts in the 1980s also received little attention in Washington amid
the triumphalism of the early 1990s. The story did surface briefly in
1991 during Gates’s confirmation hearings to become President George H.W.
Bush’s CIA director. Then, a group of CIA analysts braved the
administration’s wrath by protesting the “politicization of
Led by Soviet
specialist Mel Goodman, the dissidents fingered Gates as the key
“politicization” culprit. Their testimony added to doubts about Gates,
who was under a cloud for his dubious testimony on the Iran-Contra
scandal and allegations that he had played a role in another covert
scheme to assist Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. But the elder George Bush lined
up solid Republican backing and enough accommodating Democrats –
particularly Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman David Boren – to
push Gates through.
Boren’s key staff aide
who limited the investigation of Gates was George Tenet, whose
behind-the-scenes maneuvering on Gates’s behalf won the personal
appreciation of the senior George Bush. Those political chits would
serve Tenet well a decade later when the younger George Bush protected
Tenet as his own CIA director, even after the intelligence failure of
Sept. 11, 2001, and embarrassing revelations about faulty intelligence
on Iraq’s WMD.
In the early 1990s.
with the Cold War over, the need for objective intelligence also seemed
less pressing. Political leaders apparently didn’t grasp the potential
danger of allowing a corrupted U.S. intelligence process to remain in
place. There was a brief window for action with Bill Clinton’s election
in 1992, but the incoming Democrats lacked the political will to demand
issue was put squarely before Clinton’s incoming national security team
by former CIA analyst Peter Dickson, who wrote a two-page memo on Dec.
10, 1992, to Samuel “Sandy” Berger, a top Clinton national security
aide. Dickson was an analyst who suffered retaliation after refusing to
rewrite a 1983 assessment that noted Soviet restraint on nuclear
proliferation. His CIA superiors didn’t want to give the Soviets any
credit for demonstrating caution on the nuclear technology front. When
Dickson stood by his evidence, he soon found himself facing accusations
about his psychological fitness.
Dickson urged Clinton
to appoint a new CIA director who understood “the deeper internal
problems relating to the politicization of intelligence and the
festering morale problem within the CIA.” In urging a housecleaning,
Dickson wrote, “This problem of intellectual corruption will not
disappear overnight, even with vigorous remedial action. However, the
new CIA director will be wise if he realizes from the start the dangers
in relying on advice of senior CIA office managers who during the past
12 years advanced and prospered in their careers precisely because they
had no qualms about suppressing intelligence or slanting analysis to
suit the interest of Casey and Gates.”
The appeals from
Dickson and other CIA veterans were largely ignored by Clinton and his
top aides, who were more interested in turning around the U.S. economy
and enacting some modest social programs. Although Gates was removed as
CIA director, Clinton appointed James Woolsey, a neo-conservative
Democrat who had worked closely with the Reagan-Bush administrations.
Under Woolsey and Clinton’s subsequent CIA directors, the Gates team
sans Gates consolidated its bureaucratic power.
The old ideal of
intelligence analysis free from political taint was never restored.
Clinton’s final CIA director was George Tenet, who was kept on by George
W. Bush in 2001. In violation of the CIA’s long-standing tradition of
avoiding even the appearance of partisanship, Tenet happily presided
over the ceremony that renamed the CIA’s Langley, Va., headquarters the
George Bush Center for Intelligence, after George Bush senior.
The Iraq Debacle
Tenet also has proved
himself a loyal bureaucrat to the second Bush administration. For
instance, in February 2003 when Secretary of State Colin Powell
addressed the United Nations Security Council about Iraq’s alleged WMD
program, Tenet was prominently seated behind Powell, giving the CIA’s
imprimatur to Powell’s assertions that turned out to be a mixture of
unproved assertions, exaggerations and outright lies. At one point in
his speech, Powell even altered the text of intercepted conversations
between Iraqi officials to make their comments appear incriminating.
[For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s "Bush's
“If one goes back to
that very long presentation [by Powell], point by point, one finds that
this was not a very honest explanation,” said Greg Thielmann, a former
senior official in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and
Research, in an interview with PBS Frontline. “I have to conclude
Secretary Powell was being a loyal secretary of state, a ‘good soldier’
as it were, building the administration’s case before the international
community.” [For details, see Frontline’s “Truth,
War and Consequences.”]
But the intelligence
analysts weren’t the only ones coming under attack for pointing out
evidence that didn’t conform to the Bush administration’s propaganda.
From the start of its drive to invade Iraq, the administration treated
going to war like a giant public relations game, with the goal of
manufacturing consent or at least silencing any meaningful opposition.
undermined Bush’s conclusions was minimized or discarded. People who
revealed unwanted evidence were personally discredited or intimidated.
When former Ambassador Wilson reported that he had been assigned by the
CIA to investigate the Niger yellowcake claims and found them bogus,
administration officials leaked the fact that Wilson’s wife, Valerie
Plame, was an undercover CIA officer. The leak destroyed Plame's career
and may have put at risk agents who worked with her.
'Slime and Defend'
Though Bush publicly
denounced the leak, an unnamed Republican aide on Capitol Hill told the
New York Times that the underlying White House strategy was to “slime
and defend,” that is to “slime” Wilson and “defend” Bush. [NYT, Oct. 2,
The “slime and defend”
strategy has been carried forward by conservative news outlets with the
Wall Street Journal editorial page and Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Washington
Times attacking Wilson's motives, even as Wilson’s debunking of the
Niger allegations has been borne out by other investigations.
“Joseph C. Wilson IV,
the man accusing the White House of a vendetta against his wife, is an
ex-diplomat turned Democratic partisan,” declared a front-page article
in the Washington Times. “Mr. Wilson told the Washington Post he and his
wife are already discussing who will play them in the movie.”
[Washington Times, Oct. 2, 2003]
The Washington Times
returned to its anti-Wilson campaign several days later. “As for Mr.
Wilson himself, his hatred of Mr. Bush’s policies borders on the
pathological,” wrote Washington Times columnist Donald Lambro on Oct. 6,
2003. “This is a far-left Democrat who has been relentlessly bashing the
president’s Iraq war policies. … The mystery behind this dubious
investigation is why this Bush-hater was chosen for so sensitive a
The Wall Street
Journal also raised questions about Wilson’s motives. “Joe Wilson (Ms.
Plame’s husband) has made no secret of his broad disagreement with Bush
policy since outing himself with an op-ed,” the Journal wrote in a lead
editorial on Oct. 3, 2003.
attacks on Wilson’s alleged bias (which he denies) continued even as
Bush’s hand-picked Iraqi weapons inspector David Kay was confirming
Wilson’s findings. In his report to the CIA and Congress, Kay
acknowledged that no evidence has been found to support the stories
about Iraq seeking African uranium.
“To date we have not
uncovered evidence that Iraq undertook significant post-1998 steps to
actually build nuclear weapons or produce fissile material,” Kay said.
The disconnect between
fact and spin apparently has grown so complete among Bush’s allies that
they can’t stop attacking Wilson’s findings as biased even when the
facts he uncovered are being confirmed by one of Bush’s own
The clumsy attempt to
discredit or punish Wilson eventually led to disclosures that Bush's
chief political adviser Karl Rove and Cheney's chief of staff Lewis
Libby took part in revealing Plame's identity to reporters. In 2005,
Libby was indicted on charges of obstructing justice and lying to
investigators about the leak. Rove apparently remains under
But the attacks on
Wilson do not stand alone. In the drive to limit debate about Bush’s
case for war, his allies ostracized virtually all major critics of the
administration’s WMD claims, including the U.N.’s chief weapons
inspector Hans Blix and former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter.
also were mounted against celebrities, such as actor Sean Penn and the
music group Dixie Chicks, for criticizing Bush’s rush to war. When
France urged more time for U.N. weapons inspections, Bush’s supporters
organized boycotts of French products, poured French wine in gutters and
renamed “French fries” as “Freedom Fries.”
As with the Wilson
case, Bush and his supporters didn't let the failure to find the alleged
trigger-ready WMD stop their efforts to discredit these critics. Instead
of apologies, for instance, Ritter continued to suffer from conservative
smears about his patriotism.
In one particularly
smarmy performance on June 12, 2003, Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly
teamed up with Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., to air suspicions that Ritter
had been bribed by the Iraqis to help them cover up their illegal
weapons. Neither O’Reilly nor Pence had any evidence that Ritter
accepted a bribe, so they framed the segment as a demand that the FBI
investigate Ritter with the purported goal of clearing him of any
suspicion of treason.
The segment noted that
a London newspaper reporter had found Iraqi documents showing that
Ritter had been offered some gold as gifts for his family. “I turned
down the gifts and reported it to the FBI when I came back,” Ritter said
in an interview with Fox News.
statement stood uncontradicted, O’Reilly and Pence demanded that the FBI
disclose what it knew about Ritter’s denial. “Now, we want to know
whether that was true,” said O’Reilly about whether Ritter had reported
the alleged bribe. “The FBI wouldn’t tell us.” O’Reilly then asked Pence
what he had done to get the FBI to investigate Ritter.
“After that report in
the British newspaper, many of us on Capitol Hill were very concerned,”
Pence said. “Candidly, Bill, there’s no one who’s done more damage to
the argument of the United States that Iraq was in possession of large
stores of weapons of mass destruction leading up to Operation Iraqi
Freedom other than Scott Ritter, and so the very suggestion that …
there’s evidence of treasonous activity or even bribery, I believe,
merits an investigation. I contacted the attorney general about that
Pence’s point was
clear – that Ritter’s role as a skeptic about Bush’s WMD claims made him
an appropriate target for a treason investigation. [Fox News’ “The
O’Reilly Factor,” June 12, 2003]
Time and again, Bush
and his administration have replaced the principle that good
intelligence makes for good policy with the near-opposite approach: you
start with a conclusion and then distort all available information to
sell the pre-ordained policy to a gullible, ill-informed or frightened
The WMD intelligence
was pushed through a kind of backward filter. Instead of removing the
imprecision that comes with raw intelligence, the Bush administration’s
intelligence process shoved through the dross as long as it fit with
Bush’s goal of bolstering political support for the war and removed the
refined intelligence that undercut his desired actions.
Unlike the fictional
president in Tom Clancy's “Sum of All Fears” – who was tricked into that
“really bad information” – Bush and his team have actively sought out
the bad information and assembled it as justification for going to war.
This administration, which can sometimes act in a manner
stranger-than-fiction, didn't just peer into the fog of war. It set up
the fog machine.