Left Hook! The Blog
The slogan of the war-hawks in the Bush administration could well be "the buck stops anywhere but here," and, when their invasion of Iraq exposed their own lies about Iraq, "intelligence failure" became the newest responsibility-dodging scam. The truth, as usual, is quite different.[*] Isolated elements of the corporate press that dabble in an arcane practice known as "journalism" uncovered a lot of what was happening before the war--the administration's war-hawks browbeating the intelligence community into producing material that supported the war policy. Unfortunately, most of those in the corporate press, their noses buried so deeply in Bush's anal orifice that they couldn't see the light of day, couldn't be bothered to question why, if intelligence was being used to justify a preemptive attack, the war-hawks found it necessary to try to change the intelligence. The question went unasked, and the fact that this manipulation of the process was even occurring was buried as deeeply as possible. Still, the info was mostly available, usually appearing somewhere around page B8, there being insufficient room on the front page for both Bush's latest lies and the truth. Here are some samples illustrating what was happening behind the scenes during the buildup:
ITEM: "While President Bush marshals congressional and international support for invading Iraq, a growing number of military officers, intelligence professionals and diplomats in his own government privately have deep misgivings about the administration's double-time march toward war.
"These officials charge that administration hawks have exaggerated evidence of the threat that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein poses--including distorting his links to the al-Qaida terrorist network--have overstated the amount of international support for attacking Iraq and have downplayed the potential repercussions of a new war in the Middle East.
"They charge that the administration squelches dissenting views and that intelligence analysts are under intense pressure to produce reports supporting the White House's argument that Saddam poses such an immediate threat to the United States that pre-emptive military action is necessary.
"'Analysts at the working level in the intelligence community are feeling very strong pressure from the Pentagon to cook the intelligence books,' said one official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"A dozen other officials echoed his views in interviews.
"No one who was interviewed disagreed."
--"Administration officials expressing misgivings on Iraq,"
Knight-Ridder, Oct. 8, 2002
ITEM: "Senior Bush administration officials are pressuring CIA analysts to tailor their assessments of the Iraqi threat to help build a case against Saddam Hussein, intelligence and congressional sources said.
"In what sources described as an escalating 'war,' top officials at the Pentagon and elsewhere have bombarded CIA analysts with criticism and calls for revisions on such key questions as whether Iraq has ties to the Al Qaeda terrorist network, sources said.
"The sources stressed that CIA analysts--who are supposed to be impartial--are fighting to resist the pressure. But they said analysts are increasingly resentful of what they perceive as efforts to contaminate the intelligence process.
"'Analysts feel more politicized and more pushed than many of them can ever remember,' said an intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"'The guys at the Pentagon shriek on issues such as the link between Iraq and Al Qaeda. There has been a lot of pressure to write on this constantly, and to not let it drop.'
"The pressure has intensified in the weeks leading up to this week's
debate in Congress on a resolution granting President Bush permission to
pursue a military invasion of Iraq.
"...intelligence sources say the pressure on CIA analysts has been unrelenting in recent months, much of it coming from Iraq hawks including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and his top deputy, Paul D. Wolfowitz.
"CIA officials who brief Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz on Iraq routinely return to the agency with a long list of complaints and demands for new analysis or shifts in emphasis, sources said.
"There is a lot of unhappiness with the analysis," usually because it is seen as not hard-line enough, one intelligence official said.
"Another government official said CIA briefers 'are constantly sent back by the senior people at Defense and other places to get more, get more, get more to make their case.'"
--"CIA Feels Heat on Iraq Data",
Los Angeles Times, Oct. 11, 2002
ITEM: "The Bush administration pressed the CIA in the run-up to the war on Iraq to look for evidence of close cooperation between al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein, but the agency found no proof, according to an internal CIA intelligence review."
July 3, 2003
ITEM: "Vice President Cheney and his most senior aide made multiple
trips to the CIA over the past year to question analysts studying Iraq's
weapons programs and alleged links to al Qaeda, creating an environment
in which some analysts felt they were being pressured to make their assessments
fit with the Bush administration's policy objectives, according to senior
"Government sources said CIA analysts were not the only ones who felt pressure from their superiors to support public statements by Bush, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and others about the threat posed by Hussein.
"Former and current intelligence officials said they felt a continual drumbeat, not only from Cheney and [Cheney butt-boy "Scooter"] Libby, but also from Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, [Undersecretary of Defense Douglas] Feith, and, less so, from CIA Director George J. Tenet, to find information or write reports in a way that would help the administration make the case that going into Iraq was urgent.
"'They were the browbeaters,' said a former defense intelligence official who attended some of the meetings in which Wolfowitz and others pressed for a different approach to the assessments they were receiving. 'In interagency meetings,' he said, 'Wolfowitz treated the analysts' work with contempt.'"
June 5, 2003
ITEM: "Nearly every day, Cheney and Scooter hammered the agency on Iraq
or terrorism. Over time, the agency got tired of fighting."
--A senior administration official quoted by U.S. News & World Report,
July 28th 2003 issue
[*] There actually was a significant intelligence failure on
Iraq, to be sure, but it's of no real significance to what actually happened.
The biggest failure--the real story, the one that matters--was the IC's
failure to stand up to the war-hawks in the administration.
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