Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 4, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

IS THE CIA TO BLAME?....I wish I knew what to think about the role of the CIA in hyping the WMD threat before the war. Here's the latest from the Washington Post:

Senior administration officials, some of whom were never fans of the CIA's work on Iraq, have begun to blame the intelligence community for the mismatch between prewar claims and postwar findings.

....Another former intelligence official said the grumbling "comes because the president and others exaggerated the intelligence, and Tenet did not or could not control that."

On the one hand, it's true that the CIA did produce an NIE that now seems to have been entirely mistaken. What's more, it's also true that our intelligence assets in Iraq seem to have been negligible, something that the CIA is responsible for.

But at the same time, we also know that it was the CIA and the DIA who were counseling caution all along, much to the disgust of the administration hawks. Cheney and Rumsfeld pushed hard to get CIA analysts to beef up their reports, and it was the Pentagon that was responsible for taking seriously information from Ahmad Chalabi that has turned out to be almost entirely bogus.

So who's really to blame? Sure, maybe Tenet should have been able to rein in the hardliners, but shouldn't most of the blame fall on the hardliners themselves? After all, you might hold the sheriff accountable if crime goes up, but it's still the crooks you toss in jail.

(And who are these senior administration officials who were "never fans of the CIA's work on Iraq"? State department folks?)

Very confusing. And I imagine it will stay that way for a while.

UPDATE: I can't vouch for this article, but Asia Times has a fun piece with some anonymous quotes from DIA analysts who basically say that everyone sucked. Chalabi, CIA, Pentagon, State all a bunch of goofballs.

Kevin Drum 10:01 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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