The Misuse of Intelligence (Bush)

Previously posted on Cubetrader.com in February 2006. Please excuse the formatting (one big block of text):

More evidence to add to the mountain that already exists.  From yesterday’s NYT.  Once again, please forgive the messed up formatting… or better yet, please let me know how to avoid or easily correct it when cutting and pasting from the web.  Thanks!

Former C.I.A. Official: The Misuse of Intelligence

By Chris Suellentop         

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/

                  

In the forthcoming March/April issue of Foreign Affairs, Paul R. Pillar — the C.I.A.’s senior analyst for the Middle East from 2000 to 2005 — writes that the failures and mistakes of the intelligence community did not lead the nation to war with

Iraq

. The Bush administration’s rationale for war, Pillar writes, was based not on weapons of mass destruction but by “the desire to shake up the sclerotic power structures of the

Middle East

and hasten the spread of more liberal politics and economics in the region.” Therefore, focusing on the intelligence community’s mistaken belief that Saddam Hussein possessed W.M.D. misses the point, because the “intelligence of Iraqi weapons programs did not drive [the administration’s] decision to go to war.”

In fact, Pillar says, “official intelligence analysis was not relied on in making even the most significant national security decisions” and intelligence “was misused publicly to justify decisions already made.” He concedes that intelligence analysts got it wrong about W.M.D., but he says they also got many things right, such as the importance of security after the invasion, and the danger of creating sympathy for proponents of political Islam. And the consensus among intelligence analysts before the war, he says, was that the policy of containment was working in

Iraq

.

                                                      

Pillar’s article, “Intelligence, Policy, and the War in

Iraq

,” is the subject of a front-page story in the Washington Post today, which says that it is “the first time that such a senior intelligence officer has so directly and publicly condemned the administration’s handling of intelligence.”

Pillar also writes:

If the entire body of official intelligence analysis on

Iraq

had a policy implication, it was to avoid war — or, if war was going to be launched, to prepare for a messy aftermath. What is most remarkable about prewar

U.S.

intelligence on

Iraq

is not that it got things wrong and thereby misled policymakers; it is that it played so small a role in one of the most important

U.S.

policy decisions in recent decades. …

The administration used intelligence not to inform decision-making, but to justify a decision already made. It went to war without requesting — and evidently without being influenced by — any strategic-level intelligence assessments on any aspect of

Iraq

.

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