Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 1, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

INSURGENCY? WHAT INSURGENCY?....Within months of the fall of Baghdad, the U.S. intelligence community had concluded that the Iraq insurgency was the real deal:

Among the warnings, Knight Ridder has learned, was a major study, called a National Intelligence Estimate, completed in October 2003 that concluded that the insurgency was fueled by local conditions not foreign terrorists and drew strength from deep grievances, including the presence of U.S. troops.

.... Robert Hutchings, the chairman of the National Intelligence Council from 2003 to 2005, said the October 2003 study was part of a "steady stream" of dozens of intelligence reports warning Bush and his top lieutenants that the insurgency was intensifying and expanding.

"Frankly, senior officials simply weren't ready to pay attention to analysis that didn't conform to their own optimistic scenarios," Hutchings said in a telephone interview.

Golly. Imagine that. The White House ignored some evidence that was politically inconvenient. I sure hope they don't make a habit of that.

POSTSCRIPT: By the way, I can't wait for this story to spawn yet another post at The Corner explaining that Bush and Cheney were right to ignore the CIA because, you know, the CIA always gets everything wrong. You'd think that excuse would get embarrassing after the tenth or twentieth time in three years that the CIA has turned out to be more on the ball than the White House (or The Corner, for that matter), but it seems to be an evergreen.

Kevin Drum 12:14 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (49)

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Comments

Isn't this just cherry picking?

-When he listened to the CIA on WMD, any minority opinion within shows he was negligent

-In this case, if he doesn't listen to them, when there are plenty of minority opinions to the contrary he's negligent

The Left position is totally unrealistic, all intelligence is never unanimous because the enemy is trying to protect against spying.

Would you trust someone who acts only when the Washington bureaucracy is uanimous?


Posted by: McA on March 1, 2006 at 12:25 AM | PERMALINK

About the CIA report: Why should we be surprised the Administration ignored intelligence they didn't like. Their deceit, their incompetence, their arrogance, and their stupidity knows no bounds. I'll risk being trite: Worst. Administration. Ever.

As for The Corner: Ramesh Ponnuru is too busy trying to bitch slap Andrew Sullivan, K-Lo, is too busy with her head firmly ensconced in Shrub's lap, and Jonah is too busy doing whatever it is Jonah does to bother responding to yet another illustration of Bush's utter inability to handle the job of President.

Posted by: Jim on March 1, 2006 at 12:26 AM | PERMALINK

You know, if they would make contraception easier to get in Iraq, pretty soon there would be a lot fewer insurgents.

Posted by: craigie on March 1, 2006 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

IIRC, an NIE is coordinated by the CIA, as the statutorily lead agency, but it comprises data and analysis by ALL the civilian and military intelligence agencies. Producing an NIE is a big project, and the report is a major and formal finding.

Frankly, the fact that it was even produced seems to me to be evidence only that the political hackery and brown-shirt slavishness hadn't penetrated at that time to the depth it's reached today. You can bet that Porter Goss would never have allowed such a report to be produced...

Posted by: bleh on March 1, 2006 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

Hey McA: You look at all the intelligence and take the approach that, given the totality of that intelligence, will produce the desired result with the least amount of potential damage. With respect to WMD, the overwhelming evidence was that at most Saddam had biological and chemical weapons and no nuclear, and in that event an invasion was not the most prudent approach. With respect to the post invasion insurgency, you have to be prepared to deal with the worst case scenario, and Bush was NEGLIGENT to ignore warnings about post invasion chaos.

Posted by: Jim on March 1, 2006 at 12:32 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

Still trying to pump up the insurgency, I see. You're really pulling for that civil war, aren't you. Doesn't matter to you how many Iraqi children get blown to bits, just as long as you can crow about how you were right.

In reality, the insurgency is nothing more than Al Qeda sponsored terrorism. The Sunnis and Shi'ites have come together since the vicious attack on the Mosque last week, and are ready to bury the hatchet and make this sucker work. Even Sadr is calling for peaceful coexistance, for christ sake.

And despite last weeks uptick, the insurgency activity is dying down. Recent pilgrammages to Nasiriyah and Najaf occurred without a hitch.

6 months from now I think you'll see a red-faced MSM singing a different tune, and pussy congressional Republicans rushing back to Bush so fast they'll leave skidmarks.

Posted by: egbert on March 1, 2006 at 12:34 AM | PERMALINK

egbert, huffing gold and silver spraypaint from a sock isn't the best thing to do before reading the morning newspaper, it can really cause all kinds of distortions in perception and reality.

Posted by: Casting Director, M.A on March 1, 2006 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

All you liberals are traitors. I know! I'm the morally superior voice of God. Listen to me! I am the angry vengeful messiah who has come to save you from yourselves. Bow to me and worship at the throne of my superior intelligence.

Posted by: egbert the pompous ass on March 1, 2006 at 12:52 AM | PERMALINK

Their behavior can be characterised in many ways, but "insane" is definitely a big one. It's the 25th Amendment to remedy this, isn't it?

Posted by: jim p on March 1, 2006 at 12:59 AM | PERMALINK

and pussy congressional Republicans rushing back to Bush so fast they'll leave skidmarks.

This is a very disturbing image. Please stop.

Posted by: craigie on March 1, 2006 at 1:05 AM | PERMALINK

With respect to WMD, the overwhelming evidence was that at most Saddam had biological and chemical weapons and no nuclear

Posted by: Jim on March 1, 2006 at 12:32 AM | PERMALINK

Like no nuclear but its Ok to have bio and chem is now the standard?

Posted by: McA on March 1, 2006 at 1:10 AM | PERMALINK

Of course, the US has bio and chem weapons but heed what I say. I'm right! I AM your superior just as egbert the magnificent is also.

Posted by: McA McF on March 1, 2006 at 1:17 AM | PERMALINK

US has bio and chem weapons but heed what I say.

Posted by: McA McF on March 1, 2006 at 1:17 AM | PERMALINK

Stupid argument. Equal extended to WMD is WMD used somewhere in the world. Mutually Assured Destruction breaks down when every nations has WMD.

4 year old kids don't have guns. Its not a children's rights issue.

Posted by: McA on March 1, 2006 at 1:23 AM | PERMALINK

McA, little bit of info for you: North Korea has nukes! That's right, a regime that makes Saddam's look like a model administration has nukes and nary a peep out of anyone. National Intelligence Director just testified to it...

Posted by: manyoso on March 1, 2006 at 1:33 AM | PERMALINK

egbert, you know who else deserves one of your lashings? The troops! The vast majority of those ungrateful sloths want to come home. Can you imagine?? The nerve!

Posted by: manyoso on March 1, 2006 at 1:34 AM | PERMALINK

Let's look at the insanity of this comment:

You're really pulling for that civil war, aren't you.

According to this mindset, the facts don't matter so much as the way you look at them. Drum is objectively pro-insurgent because he isn't trying to wish the facts away, like all right-thinking Americans.

Posted by: bad Jim on March 1, 2006 at 1:56 AM | PERMALINK

The president's apologists still don't understand that reality matters.

"Frankly, senior officials simply weren't ready to pay attention to analysis that didn't conform to their own optimistic scenarios"

That was back in October 2003. They'd still rather believe their own bullshit than the news.

I used to know some salesfolk who used slogans like "Perception is reality." We engineers didn't have much respect for that point of view.

Posted by: bad Jim on March 1, 2006 at 2:00 AM | PERMALINK

And yet I distinctly remember Rumsfeld at the time denying up and down that there even was a guerilla war. "Would I say there's a guerilla war? Would I say there's an insurgency, you ask? Goodness gosh no, it's just a few high-spirited dead enders spinning in their last throes....."

Posted by: Stefan on March 1, 2006 at 2:01 AM | PERMALINK

I used to know some salesfolk who used slogans like "Perception is reality." We engineers didn't have much respect for that point of view.

Well, as Colbert says, it's "truthiness." It's kinda sorta almost like the truth, but much better!

Posted by: Stefan on March 1, 2006 at 2:03 AM | PERMALINK

Bow to me and worship at the throne of my superior intelligence.

Just as wimpy guys loudly assert how tough they are, conservatives loudly assert how intellectual they are (here's looking at you, George Will). I think John Stuart Mills characterization remains true as ever. Parody Egbert (which is I think a parody of a parody) calls it.

Posted by: banal observer on March 1, 2006 at 2:15 AM | PERMALINK

I am so smart! S-M-R-T smart!

Posted by: egbert's brain on March 1, 2006 at 2:16 AM | PERMALINK

Just as wimpy guys loudly assert how tough they are

Which explains the conservative adulation of the military.

Posted by: Stefan on March 1, 2006 at 2:18 AM | PERMALINK

The trolls reminded me of this Glenn Greenwald post which describes how some of the neocons are now blaming Bush and the troops, but most particularly the anti-war types, for the failure of the Iraq adventure. I was trying to understand how someone could blame the critics of an effort for its failure, and I think it requires a certain amount of magical thinking.

Of course, it turns out that a great deal of magical thinking went into the planning of this debacle.

Posted by: bad Jim on March 1, 2006 at 2:23 AM | PERMALINK

First published Wednesday, November 12, 2003 by Knight Ridder Newspapers:

More Iraqis Supporting Resistance, CIA Report Says
WASHINGTON - A new, top-secret CIA report from Iraq warns that growing numbers of Iraqis are concluding that the U.S.-led coalition can be defeated and are supporting the resistance.
The report paints a bleak picture of the political and security situation in Iraq and cautions that the U.S.-led drive to rebuild the country as a democracy could collapse unless corrective actions are taken immediately.
The CIA assessment, said the senior administration officials, was composed by the CIA station chief in Baghdad, a veteran operations officer who oversees more than 275 officers in Iraq.
The report is a type known in intelligence parlance as an AARDWOLF, a special field assessment that is usually requested by senior policymakers in Washington at important junctures in overseas crises.
The report, one official said, warned that the more aggressive U.S. counter-insurgency tactics could induce more Iraqis to join the guerrilla campaign that has killed at least 153 U.S. soldiers - 35 of them so far this month - since Bush declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq on May 1.
It also raised concerns about the governing council. The group, which is dominated by former Iraqi exiles with little popular support, has failed to persuade ordinary Iraqis that the occupation is temporary and will lead to a unified, sovereign Iraq, the report said.
According to the second senior administration official, the report warned that the inability of the U.S.-led coalition to crush the resistance is convincing growing numbers of Iraqis that the occupation can be defeated, bolstering support for the insurgents.
It also raised the concern that majority Shiite Muslims could begin joining minority Sunnis in turning against the occupation.
In another finding, the CIA report said there is no way to completely seal Iraq's borders with Syria, Turkey, Iran, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to infiltration by foreign Islamic extremists bent on killing Americans.

The second CIA station chief for Baghdad who took over in July 2003 is supposed to have written his first aardwolf back in August, one day after the bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad. It is supposed to have warned of a growing insurgency that had nothing to do with Saddam Hussein.

So, in terms of the White House ignoring 'some evidence that was politically inconvenient', they were receiving reports prior to the October 2003 NIE (the 'steady stream' alluded to in the article) that didn't jibe with the reality they were creating.

Posted by: grape_crush on March 1, 2006 at 2:23 AM | PERMALINK

Good and properly sarcastic post, Kevin.

In the spirit of Karl Rove's playbook of rationalizations for failure, which a number of posters above have been mining for memes, Im going to imagine a bright side to Bush's seemingly terrible legacy.

There has rarely been a better, clearer demonstration of the absolute failure of an idea. National Socialism, Communism and now Bushism. Bushism can be understood as an unholy union of oligarchs in business and the churches, that takes advantage of inherent weaknesses in democracy and an independent media, to high-jack a country through a campaign of lies and fear mongering, for the sole purpose of promoting and enriching the ownership class.

While watching a fine PBS series on WWII, I was struck by how much Communism, National Socialism and Bushism resemble each other. All these systems pretend to be about the people, proffering great sweeping theories of patriotism, social policy and the inevitability of the triumph of the nation over all others. In all cases, after initial successes, an absolute adherence to ideology denied them the flexibility and adaptability any movement needs to succeed.

After such a massive failure, we can expect Bushism to pass into oblivion like the other systems it resembles, but it could also act as a catalyst for truly beneficial change. Looking back on it all, Bushism could be seen as bringing short-term harm, but long-term good.

Posted by: James of DC on March 1, 2006 at 2:25 AM | PERMALINK

they were receiving reports prior to the October 2003 NIE (the 'steady stream' alluded to in the article) that didn't jibe with the reality they were creating.

I just cannot think what else this reminds me of....

Posted by: Stefan on March 1, 2006 at 2:26 AM | PERMALINK

Facts are stupid things...

Posted by: Kenji on March 1, 2006 at 3:24 AM | PERMALINK

Looking back on it all, Bushism could be seen as bringing short-term harm, but long-term good.


Posted by: James of DC on March 1, 2006 at 2:25 AM

James. At this stage in history, 8 lost years can translate into many, many long years of suffering. Look into history and you will see that the fallibility of our leaders tends to track us on to courses with little more than alternatively bad choices ahead. Bush has dug a very deep hole.

Posted by: lou on March 1, 2006 at 7:37 AM | PERMALINK

Mca-4yr old kids would have guns if your crew had there fondest dreams brought to reality.Is thre anything about these criminals that you don't worship?

Posted by: gandalf on March 1, 2006 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin - However, I doubt we'll ever know the truth for sure.

Three words: Karl Rove, waterboard.

Posted by: CapitalistImperialistPig on March 1, 2006 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

Stefan on March 1, 2006 at 2:26 AM:

I just cannot think what else this reminds me of...

Neither can I. I have to rule out 9/11 'cause Dubya just plain ignored the warnings.

Oh, I get it! Hurricane Katrina! Er...wait. Actually, couldn't that also apply to just about everything Dubya's put his grubby little paws into?

Posted by: grape_crush on March 1, 2006 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

Facts are stupid things...
Posted by: Kenji

Homer Simpson: "Facts are meaningless; you can use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true! Facts, schmacks."

Who knew that Homer was the patron saint of trolls?

Posted by: CFShep on March 1, 2006 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

To steal a line from a Gershwin movie,

"Egbert and rdw, if you had to do it all over again, would you still fall in love with yourselves"

Posted by: thethirdPaul on March 1, 2006 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

Wow! Yet more evidence that Bush and conservatives have been lying to us all along about the nature and status of the conflict in Iraq.

I'm shocked that they could be so duplicitous!

Shocked, I tell you!

Drip, drip, drip, drip, drip . . .

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 1, 2006 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

egbert: You're really pulling for that civil war, aren't you. Doesn't matter to you how many Iraqi children get blown to bits, just as long as you can crow about how you were right.

Well, Kevin does care more than the Right which continued to finance and publically support Saddam after he gassed the Kurds, including women and children.

And all the Right could do was crow about how they were supposedly protecting us from the evil Iranians by endorsing a greater evil and committing evil themselves.

And despite last weeks uptick, the insurgency activity is dying down.

Let's see, the Right, especially Dickless Cheney, have said this how many times over the past two years, maybe a dozen times or more.

Delusional or lying, you certainly are a trip, egbert!

6 months from now I think you'll see a red-faced MSM singing a different tune . . .

You will never see a red-faced Right, since no matter how wrong they are (where are those massive stockpiles of WMDs, egbert?) they never apologize to the people they get killed for their mistakes, never take personal responsibility for the lies they tell, and never, ever admit their incompetency, ignorance, arrogance, and cowardice.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 1, 2006 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

Check out the article by Paul Pillar (national intelligence officer for the near east and south asia) in the current Foreign Affairs "Intelligence, Policy and the War in Iraq" - fascinating account of the breakdown in the relationship between intelligence-gathering and politics

Posted by: Aidan on March 1, 2006 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

"In reality, the insurgency is nothing more than Al Qeda sponsored terrorism."

No insurgency can survive for long without a certain amount of popular support.

"The Sunnis and Shi'ites have come together since the vicious attack on the Mosque last week, and are ready to bury the hatchet and make this sucker work."

Well, I haven't heard any reports of buried hatchets, but they sure are burying plenty of bullets in each other.
-379 dead, 458 wounded as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the Iraqi government (which means the figures are, if anything, probably on the low side)
-30 dead so far Wednesday
-dozens of mosques attacked and at least 3 destroyed
Man, there sure must be a lot of AQ operatives in Iraq.

Posted by: MJ Memphis on March 1, 2006 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

Like no nuclear but its Ok to have bio and chem is now the standard?

Hey dumbass, check out unclassified NIEs on WMD - over sixty (60) countries are thought to have chemical and biological weapons. Heck, most military analysts don't even consider chem/bio weapons to be true WMDs.

Besides, doesn't change the fact that Bush and Co. warned us of "reconstituted nuclear weapons programs" and "mushroom clouds."

Face it, the nuclear angle was BS from the start. A bugbear just like the Saddam-9/11 connection.

Stupid argument. Equal extended to WMD is WMD used somewhere in the world. Mutually Assured Destruction breaks down when every nations has WMD.

Actually, MAD works no matter how many countries have nuclear weapons. In fact, MAD theory works even better with more countries having them. Besides, I thought you neocons hated international treaties? So why all the chest-thumping about the NPT? The NPT doesn't work anyway. India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel all said "no thanks" to the NPT and all got weapons. What are we doing about those countries? Nothing. We were concerned with a tinpot dictator holding a couple of rotting canisters of ten-year-old chemical weapons.

No soup for you.

Posted by: Janissary on March 1, 2006 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

Like no nuclear but its Ok to have bio and chem is now the standard?

They knew he had no nuclear or chemical. Chemical agents age and they hadn't been replenished since the original batch. And anthrax is useless as a theater weapon. Ditto botulin. There really wasn't a terror-scale biological weapon.

And Bush pushed nuclear knowing it was crock. So, take Mr. Goodbar's advice and do it today.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on March 1, 2006 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

The major diference between the liberals and the patriots is that the latter have their eyes at the proper coordinates on their body whereas the liberals' means of visual perception have been transplanted to the back of their heads.

Posted by: lib on March 1, 2006 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

The major diference between the liberals and the patriots is that the latter have their eyes at the proper coordinates on their body whereas the liberals' means of visual perception have been transplanted to the back of their heads.

Posted by: lib

Then how to account for the Pat's losing in the playoffs?

Oh, for the good old days when patriotism was the last resort of scoundrels. Now it's the first.


********
Politics, n. strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. - Ambrose Bierce.

Posted by: cFShep on March 1, 2006 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK
In fact, MAD theory works even better with more countries having them.

That's of limited truth; it certainly works less well the less confidence there is that any attack will be traced back to the attacker. In practice, given the availability of delivery methods other than land-based ballistic missiles and bombers, that means it works less well with more countries having them (an SLBM is difficult to track back to a launching country with certainty, if more countries have the capacity to launch them, and a a bomb smuggled in a shipping container is harder yet to trace back.)

Posted by: cmdicely on March 1, 2006 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

No soup for you.

Excellent!

Posted by: craigie on March 1, 2006 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

"In reality, the insurgency is nothing more than Al Qeda sponsored terrorism."

In reality, you don't know what you're talking about. According to "Pentagon officials... foreign jihadis... compris[e] only 10 percent of the insurgency." Hmm...

And the death squads run by the Ministry of the Interior?

Posted by: Rick on March 1, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

And once again what about the hundreds of U.N. Inspecters on the ground for months before the invasion? They went everywhere in the country with no limits this time and proved that there were no WMD's anyplace that the U.S Intelligence were willing to offer up as suspect. If the U.S. had suspicions that there were other chem/bio weapons and they didn't tell the U.N. about them so the weapons could be rendered harmless and not a threat to invasion troops then the administration is guilty of even more gross negligence.

Posted by: bob atkinson on March 1, 2006 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

What a surprise.

So it IS just like Vietnam.

It's just too bad our glorious leaders didn't see fit to engage in a sincere and meaningful debate with the general public -- WHO TOLD THEM that this would be the result...
... of a wrongheaded policy based not only on lies and misinformation, but on the betrayal of core American legal principles and values here at home. Based on a total breach of trust.

And -- let it be known -- it was the national security fetish and the ill-advised and unAmerican dogma of secrecy that allowed them to get away with this. Had we adhered to the American and democratic tenets of transparent and open government, free and fair debate, and a free press and free speech genuinely engaged by elected officials responsive to the needs of their empoloyers, the People, as well as attentive to the national security needs and best interests of the country...
... then this would never have happened.

So much easier to be a sheep in hawk's clothing, and violate the very basis of the country they presume to defend.

Posted by: SombreroFallout on March 1, 2006 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

"The Left position is totally unrealistic, all intelligence is never unanimous because the enemy is trying to protect against spying.

Would you trust someone who acts only when the Washington bureaucracy is uanimous?"

Posted by: McA on March 1, 2006 at 12:25 AM | PERMALINK


We don't ask for unanimity, just a strong bi-partisan consensus on what the U.S. foreign policy should be. And when the administration says it KNOWS where the nukes or chemical agents are then they had damn well better be there.

You don't go to war based on lies and no consensus. It's bad policy.

Posted by: MarkH on March 1, 2006 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

reading the morning newspaper, it can really cause all kinds of distortions in perception and reality.

casting director hit the nail on the head

Posted by: charlie w on March 2, 2006 at 3:13 AM | PERMALINK

Charlie: reading the morning newspaper, it can really cause all kinds of distortions in perception and reality.

Oh goody, just the opening I was looking for.

I have little bone to pick with the LATimes for this:

http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-na-lakeview2mar02,1,2010165.story?coll=la-news-a_section
In Katrina's Ruins, a Land of Opportunity
Residents, new buyers and real estate agents await a neighborhood's rebirth.
By David Zucchino, Times Staff Writer

I was reading a good clip, there wasn't a lot of substance to the piece when I came to a schreeching halt at this: "his century-old Arts and Crafts home on Rosemary Place,"

There are to my certain knowledge no 100 year old houses in Lakeview, Arts and Crafts or otherwise.
Lakeview is wall-to-wall suburban, mostly brick facade, ranch-styles from the late 60's, 70's and early 80's.

The 82-83 recession essentially halted most residential development in the whole state for a decade - but NOLA took a big hit in particular. The only new subdivisions I know of are the McMansion enclaves of the Vietnamese in NOEast.

Rosemary Place is South of I-10 and proximate to the extreme riverside tip of City Park. The area is called, oddly enough, City Park. It's where Old Metairie, in Jefferson Parish, buts up against Orleans Parish.

The flooding which occured in this area was because the pumps failed and the outflow canal's levees were overtopped. They did not fail. Flooding was in the 3-4 foot range, mostly. There was no extensive damage since most of the homes, barring a few late in-fills, sit on piers rather than concrete slabs.

That is all. We may now resume regular programming.

Posted by: CFShep on March 2, 2006 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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