Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical
hermionesviolin

On WMD and intelligence failures

My father says a big British committee investigation of pre-war intelligence just came out, the "Butler Report", saying essentially what Blair says in the first few sentences.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "No one lied. No one made up the intelligence. No one inserted things into the dossier against the advice of the intelligence services. Everyone genuinely tried to do their best in good faith for the country in circumstances of acute difficulty. That issue of good faith should now be at an end ... But I have to accept, as the months have passed, it seems increasingly clear that at the time of invasion, Saddam did not have stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons ready to deploy ... I have searched my conscience, not in the spirit of obstinacy, but in genuine reconsideration in the light of what we now know, in answer to that question. And my answer would be that the evidence of Saddam's WMD was indeed less certain, less well-founded than was stated at the time. But I cannot go from there to the opposite extreme. On any basis he retained complete strategic intent on WMD and significant capability. The only reason he ever let the inspectors back into Iraq was that he had 180,000 US and British troops on his doorstep ... Had we backed down in respect of Saddam, we would never have taken the stand we needed to take on WMD, never have got progress on Libya ... and we would have left Saddam in charge of Iraq, with every malign intent and capability still in place and every dictator with the same intent everywhere immeasurably emboldened. For any mistakes made, as the report finds, in good faith, I of course take full responsibility. But I cannot honestly say I believe getting rid of Saddam was a mistake at all." - Tony Blair, yesterday. It's a classy, honest, intelligent and sincere rebuke to the anti-war arguments. If only the president had the character and strength to say something as candid.
People keep saying GWB should have known about 9/11 in advance.



David Adesnik writes:
The former New Jersey governor [and Commission head, my father adds] said that of all the millions of words spoken by Bush and Al Gore during the 2000 campaign, the commission could find only one reference to terrorism. That, he noted, meant that reporters had not been asking about the subject. Which, of course, underscores how totally unprepared the country was--not just the last two administrations and Congress, the CIA and FBI, but the media as well--for the horror that was to be inflicted on us.

Despite the first World Trade Center attack, the bombing of the East African embassies and of the USS Cole, no one was prepared.
That's from Howard Kurtz, who rounds up some of the recent reactions to the 9/11 Report. Perhaps the NY Daily News put it best:
"WE BLEW IT, BUT THERE'S NOBODY TO BLAME."
My father adds:
Should Clinton and Bush have been concerned anyway? Given what happened, the answer is, "Of course." But is it reasonable to expect them to have been concerned? Not knowing exactly what was filtering up to the White House, my guess is no. Government people are always hyping threats and dangers. In order to respond to the threat, they almost always want money and power, sometimes power that should only be used sparingly, like the power to kill or to wiretap. Most of the time, not giving them the power is the right thing to do.
Editor and Publisher ("America's Oldest Journal Covering the Newspaper Industry") also finds that terrorism wasn't a big media story pre-9/11.

My father comments:
Conventional wisdom (agreed to by the 9/11 Commission) says that the problem before 9/11 was that people in intelligence didn't talk to each other, that they didn't "connect the dots." And the answer, says the Commission, is to put all intelligence under one boss.

Conventional wisdom also says that the problem with "WMD in Iraq" intelligence prior to the war was "group think." Everyone talked with each other and agreed with each other even though the direct evidence was remarkably weak. They connected dots that shouldn't have been connected or that shouldn't even have been considered valid dots. Then the Director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet, presented the results to the president as a "slam dunk."

Am I the only one who sees a maybe unsolvable problem here?
Later he links to this piece by Mickey Kaus and says:
Nice to know I'm not the only person who noticed that a White House-based "intelligence czar" might not be a foolproof solution.

And people!-and that means you, John Kerry--remember after 9/11 and everyone was saying we had to do something and this thing called the Patriot Act was introduced and just about everyone--including you, turkey--didn't even have time to read it but just pushed it through? Wouldn't it have been better if we'd stepped back and thought about it some more? Does it make ANY sense to say, a few days after the report comes out, that you agree with EVERY recommendation? Maybe it makes political sense, like it made political sense at the time to automatically vote for the Patriot Act, but maybe it's NOT GOOD GOVERNING. And right now, what I want to see is that you can govern well. I already know you're a first class panderer. I want to know that you can rise above that.
Tyler Cowen questions whether more Congressional oversight is a good thing.



David Adesnik posts on the "Why do they hate us? Why do we hate them?" Iraq and America debate. He begins:
In the midst of an aggressive American effort to export its democratic ideals, I think it may prove beneficial to empathize with the people of Iraq and Afghanistan by trying to remember those moments in American history when the success of others led to a loss of confidence in our own way of life.

While the the people of Iraq (if not their leaders) have demonsrated an admirable thirst for democracy and human rights, it is never easy for a proud people to admit that foreigners know best, especially in the midst of a foreign occupation. This is not a trait peculiar to Iraqi culture but rather one that Americans share as well. Thus, it may be cultural similarities that are a greater barrier to cooperation in Iraq than cultural differences.
In Part 2 he discuses Gone With the Wind and the North’s efforts to export racial equality, so to speak, to the South, and compares that with America’s current efforts in Iraq.
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