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Friday, January 30, 2004

 
While we're tripping down memory lane (and suffering from a shortage of Hersh), here's a bit of Hersh from October 2003:

'The point is not that the President and his senior aides were consciously lying. What was taking place was much more systematic—and potentially just as troublesome. Kenneth Pollack, a former National Security Council expert on Iraq, whose book “The Threatening Storm” generally supported the use of force to remove Saddam Hussein, told me that what the Bush people did was “dismantle the existing filtering process that for fifty years had been preventing the policymakers from getting bad information. They created stovepipes to get the information they wanted directly to the top leadership. Their position is that the professional bureaucracy is deliberately and maliciously keeping information from them.'

'“They always had information to back up their public claims, but it was often very bad information,” Pollack continued. “They were forcing the intelligence community to defend its good information and good analysis so aggressively that the intelligence analysts didn’t have the time or the energy to go after the bad information.”'

'The Administration eventually got its way, a former C.I.A. official said. “The analysts at the C.I.A. were beaten down defending their assessments. And they blame George Tenet”—the C.I.A. director—“for not protecting them. I’ve never seen a government like this.”'


To recap: The U.N. said Hussein didn't have any WMD program worth speaking about. Their intelligence was so good, the older stuff (pre-1998) ended up in the now-famous National Intelligence Estimate and in Colin Powell's speech to the U.N. While David Kay says publicly that the administration didn't pressure the intelligence community to produce results it agreed with, we do have quite a few "grumblings" from folks in the CIA and elsewhere who felt the heat. Hersh, in his article and at least one previous article, takes the civilians in the Pentagon to task for removing the "filters" which are supposed to remove bad intelligence from the stream and for being more "creative" in their interpretation of the results. What, then, is the big picture? As we see it, the administration deliberately set up a system which reinforced their belief that Saddam Hussein had WMDs and needed to go. Whether or not this was due to pressure by the likes of Perle and PNAC remains to be seen. In any case, it's pretty clear that the administration was selective in its picking, and as a result it made a huge mistake.

Andrew 5:25 PM : |



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