Intelligence Failures for Dummies
By Ahmed Amr
"It was a surprise to me then, it remains a surprise to me now, that we have not uncovered weapons. We were simply wrong." Lt. Gen. James Conway, commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (5/30/2003).
"But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them." George Bush (5/30/2003).
"We may find out three months from now that there was an elaborate deception program and the stuff was destroyed. Do I think we're going to find something? Yeah, I kind of do" Maj. Gen. Keith Dayton, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (5/30/2003).
"This war was not waged under any false pretext." Donald Rumsfeld (5/29/2003).
"Everything I presented on the 5th of February, I can tell you, there was good sourcing for, was not politicized, it was solid information" Colin Powell (5/30/2003).
"For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on" Paul Wolfowitz (5/28/2003).
Most readers don't pay attention to the dates on quotes. If you take another look, you might notice that they were all uttered in a three day span, eight months ago. I don't keep a dairy of the quotes of our supreme leaders. In fact, I don't have a diary. They all came out of a Los Angeles Times article by Greg Miller (5/31/2003).
So, what exactly is new under the blazing Iraqi sun? We went from a baffled General Conway declaring that "WE WERE SIMPLY WRONG" to David Kay admitting that the administration's intelligence on Iraq was "ALMOST ALL WRONG".
For fifty cents, or maybe a buck, you could have picked up a copy of the LA Times and arrived at the same conclusion as General Conway. It cost David Kay a few hundred million dollars. The difference makes those six hundred dollar toilet seats seem like a screaming bargain. Stock up on them pronto. What ever you do, don't send David Kay to buy them.
The 'preemptive' war against Iraq was launched to prevent Saddam Hussein from gift wrapping WMDs and mailing them to Bin Laden. We were told that Saddam not only had WMDs but that he was about to hand them over to the terrorists who had allegedly collaborated with him in the 911 assaults.
Conway knew we were "simply wrong" because he probably figured that if Saddam had WMDs and was intent on using them in an unprovoked attack on the United States, why not use them when American Marines where at the gates of Baghdad? The curious General wanted answers to that question eight months ago.
George Bush not only had an answer for Conway. He already had possession of the WMDs. Bush basically told the General that he couldn't find Saddam's stash because the White House had them stored in the basement.
General Dayton, the DIA director, was not so certain about Bush's claim. With a shrug of the shoulder, he allowed for the slight possibility that Conway might yet find something if he poked around a bit. "Do I think we're going to find something? Yeah, I kind of do."
If you happen to be familiar with American speech patterns, "Kind of do" sounds a lot like "Kind of don't". General Dayton was already making the excuse that Saddam might have been involved in a diabolical plan of elaborate deception to convince the world that he had WMDs. To do this, Saddam was busy writing romance novels with WMD sub plots.
In anticipation of Conway's question, Rummy was ready with his 'false pretext' denial a day before Conway raised the issue. As for Colin Powell, he not only prepared a counter assault against the Marine General; he was ready with an overwhelming number of answers for future questions. He let it be known that intelligence "was not politicized". Slow down, Colin. That denial was eight months ahead of the scripted game plan.
The most honest response to Conway came from an unlikely source, Paul Wolfowitz, the architect of the war. "For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction". Apparently, the Pentagon's War Requisition Form, WW-3, only allows for a three letter coded entry under "reasons for war". A new and improved form is being designed for the war in 2004, allowing for four-letter entries like 'BUSH'.
After that momentary lapse of honesty, Wolfowitz is now back to his old deceptive ways. Eight months later, he now claims to have been fooled by the CIA. "You have to make decisions based on the intelligence you have, not on the intelligence you can discover later." What he should have said was "you have to make the decision on which war to have and then cook up the intelligence later".
I hate to pick on the Toledo Blade, one of the last remaining bastions of independent American journalism. But on 1/29/2004, they were still writing editorials declaring that "The mistake then lies primarily with the CIA in providing the administration bum intelligence." That was the consensus judgment of American pundits.
Who can blame these "Intelligence" challenged journalists. After all, it seems that even the President wants to get to the bottom of this. He just doesn't want no stinking independent investigation looking into 'intelligence failures'. The question of the hour is what did the President not know and when did he block it out. Is this not the same George Bush who seems satisfied with the results of the Plame investigation? As he puts it "We may never catch the person who leaked this information." How convenient!
Now comes the news from David Albright that the big boys have known since last May that WMDs would never be found. The former UN nuclear inspector with close contacts in the intelligence community claims that "the only people who did not know that fact was the public". That means that we spent hundreds of millions of dollars and eight months to confirm what our governors already knew. Couldn't they find cheaper ways to buy blinders for the great unwashed?
The second act of this farce is about to take place. We are already being advised that it will take at least a year to sort out these 'intelligence failures'. Perfect timing. By then Bush would presumably be starting out his second term with a mandate to "take care of the people's business and not dwell on past mistakes".
A year from now, maybe later, the public will 'discover' another thing that is already common knowledge in certain circles. There was no intelligence failure.
If the President is really interested in getting to the bottom of this, then he should demand a separate independent audit of the work of the Office of Special Plans (OSP), the architects of this so-called intelligence failure. Although the Office of Special Plans is now closed for business, they left behind a little manual titled "Intelligence Failures for Dummies". One of the janitors in the Pentagon has now revealed the contents of this disturbing publication.
Intelligence Failures for Dummies:
Why engineer an intelligence failure? When the intelligence community is not giving you the kind of results you desire, a responsible administration needs to find a way to manufacture its own intelligence and make it look like it was cooked at the CIA.
How do you get around the CIA? First, you let Douglas Feith and Wolfie set up their own intelligence unit in the Pentagon and give it a big name like the Office of Special Plans. Make sure the office is staffed with those who share your neo-con agenda.
What next? You need to develop and groom your own independent sources. You get a guy like Chalabi and his imaginery friends to provide you with the exact answers that fit your game plan. Just to make it legitimate, you use a few trusted journalists like Judith 'WMD' Miller of the New York Times to circulate stories confirming your 'findings'. You now have 'double sourcing'
And then what? You challenge the CIA to match your work. Accuse them of timidity. You get Cheney and Libby to breathe down their necks and berate them for missing the Chalabi lead. You point out that Judith Miller is a second source who confirms the Chalabi story. Who can argue with the New York Times?
Isn't this risky business? Not if the war is a cakewalk. Every body loves a winner. Those who made a fuss about the risks will be made to eat crow. We'll just sit back and enjoy the show. A few marginal journalists will dig into it. Jim Lobe is not exactly a household name. Who will hear them over the din of a victory parade?
What if the war ends up being a long hard slog? Well, in that case, we dispatch David Kay to dig up the phantom WMDs. Let him take his own sweet time. The public will be asked to show us a little patience.
What happens when Kay doesn't find a trace of WMDs? Well, Dummy, we just stall and send another guy to resume the search. If that doesn't work, we'll just throw a tantrum and blame it on an 'intelligence failure'. Let the CIA take the fall. The President might have to stitch together a bipartisan inquiry staffed by the usual suspects. By the time they set up shop, argue over rules and scope and agree on a list of witnesses, it will be late spring, early summer. The story will die down once it is 'under investigation by the proper authorities'. Look at the 911 probes and the Plame investigation.
What if the public demands an investigation of the OSP, instead of the CIA? By that time, we would have closed our doors, shredded our files and ceased to exist as an intelligence unit.
Isn't it possible that the media boys will smell a rat? If they smell a rat, it will be the stench of their own skin. Can you see the New York Times investigating Judith Miller's role in our little scam? Better still, how likely is it that BobWoodward of Watergate fame would look into Krauthammer's collaboration with the OSP. They both toil for the Washington Post. The beauty of this whole venture is that we can get our media operatives to turn up the heat on the CIA and put Langley on the defensive. What can the CIA do? Act like a crybaby and say that a few analysts in an obscure Pentagon office managed to bully them.
Can anything go wrong? Not a chance. Intelligence failures happen. We should know. We make them happen. We'll blame the whole thing on Chalabi and his imaginary friends. Chalabi is more than ready to act as the culprit who passed us bum information. He has been accused of worse things. Chalabi is a good sport and not the kind who worries about his reputation.
What is a worst case scenario? The janitor finds this training manual and publishes it.
Ahmed Amr is the editor of NileMedia.com. This article can be published at will.
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