Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Friday | October 25, 2002

Politicizing intelligence gathering

So you're a Bush Administration official looking for a reason -- any reason -- to invade Iraq (say, Donald Rumsfeld). You ask your intelligence agencies (CIA, DIA, NSA, etc.) for confirmation that Iraq has ties to Al Qaeda. The agencies mine their assets, review their data, train satellites and listening devices and whatever other exotic technologies they may have on the Iraqis and scattered Al Qaeda members.

And after analyzing everything, they conclude there are no ties between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.

This is a setback. You can't give the real reasons for an Iraq invasion -- oil, political gain, and revenge for daddy's assasination attempt. You just HAVE TO HAVE evidence linking OBL to SH.

So what do you do?

Well, given that this admininstration is the most intensely political in the history of our fair nation, you simply follow from the Rove game plan -- you create a new "intelligence agency" and fill it with political appointees who will confirm whatever lies the administration spews.

The Pentagon's civilian leadership has ordered a small team of defense officials outside regular intelligence channels to focus on unearthing details about Iraqi ties with al Qaeda and other terrorist networks, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said yesterday.


At a news conference yesterday, Rumsfeld denied suggestions that the initiative was meant to compete with the CIA or other intelligence agencies. He said it was intended simply to assist policymakers in assessing the intelligence they receive.

"Any suggestion that it's an intelligence-gathering activity or an intelligence unit of some sort, I think would be a misunderstanding of it," Rumsfeld said.

But the effort comes against a backdrop of persistent differences between the Pentagon and CIA over assessments of Iraq. Rumsfeld and senior aides have argued that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has strong links to international terrorism, poses an imminent threat and cannot be constrained from eventually unleashing weapons of mass destruction. The CIA's publicly released reports have painted a murkier view of Iraq's links to al Qaeda, its weapons capabilities and the likelihood that Hussein would use chemical or biological weapons unless attacked.

"The Pentagon is setting up the capability to assess information on Iraq in areas that in the past might have been the realm of the agency," said Reuel Gerecht, a former CIA case officer who has met with the people in the new Pentagon office. "They don't think the product they receive from the agency is always what it should be."

"They are politicizing intelligence, no question about it," said Vincent M. Cannistraro, a former CIA counterterrorism chief. "And they are undertaking a campaign to get George Tenet [the director of central intelligence] fired because they can't get him to say what they want on Iraq."

So to clarify, the CIA (and other intelligence agencies) gather the information. They then interpret it. But if the administration doesn't like that interpretation (e.g. Hussein and OBL hate each other and would never work together), the new agency can take a look at the info and arrive at a more "acceptable" conclusion (or in Rumsfeld's words, "assist policymakers in assessing the intelligence they receive").

The gods save us from this cabal.

Posted October 25, 2002 08:17 AM | Comments (2)


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