Friday, July 09, 2004

Intelligence and motives

The Washington Post has an informative piece on the 511 report released today by the Senate Intelligence committee. In short, the CIA got it wrong on the Iraqi WMDs.
In accusing the CIA and its top leaders of engaging in a "group think dynamic," the committee said analysts and senior policymakers never questioned their long-held assumption that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. In addition, the committee reported, the CIA had no undercover agents in Iraq since 1998 to help gather reliable information and failed to tell policymakers of "the uncertainties of both the reliability of some key sources and of intelligence judgments."
...
"The debate over many aspects of the U.S. liberation of Iraq will likely continue for decades," said Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), the chairman of the committee. "But one fact is now clear: before the war, the U.S. intelligence community told the president, as well as the Congress and the public, that Saddam Hussein had stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and, if left unchecked, would probably have a nuclear weapon during this decade. Today we know these assessments were wrong."
And, of course, there is the partisan questioning of the administration:
While the committee's nine Republicans and eight Democrats voted unanimously to release the report, they expressed some differences about whether the Bush administration exerted undue political pressure on the intelligence community to provide assessments that supported a decision to go to war in Iraq. And Democrats lamented that a second phase of the committee's investigation -- into how the administration used the intelligence it received -- will not be completed until well after the November elections.
I believe it's prudent and important to make sure the intelligence was used wisely; what angers in the questioning of motives by the more, er, outspoken Leftists. I remember the days when the news was saturated with all matters Clinton and Lewinisky and Starr. One day, seemingly out of the blue, Clinton announces that he has just launched cruise missiles against a chemical weapons factory in Sudan and a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan. Wag the Dog was on the tip of everyone's tongue, but at least for the first few days, not even Rush Limbaugh was willing to question the President's motives. As time went by, Limbaugh and other did question motives, and it bothered me. To say the president used the lethal force of our awesome military for devious reasons is to say he has blood on his hands. That's not a charge to lob like another political talking point. You may call me naive, but until proven otherwise, I assume my government goes to war in good faith.

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