Now Cough

Thursday, March 31, 2005

"Dead Wrong"

Not Failure of Imagination. Just FAILURE

So The Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction just issued its report on, well, intelligence capabilities of the US regarding weapons of mass destruction.

The answer: WE ARE SCREWED.

The panel delivered a complete flunking grade to the CIA and the whole spy outfit whose gargantuan budget is kept from taxpayers.

I think the CIA, NSA and FBI and the nine other intelligence bureaucracies are scapegoated here. They should not be left off the hook. But the president and his very small coterie of liars/policymakers were full and leading partners of this whole mess.

We know from Ron Susskind's account of former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neil that targeting Iraq was on the agenda in January 2001 as soon as the Bush administration took office. We know that immediately after the 9-11 attack that the president confronted former terrorism advisor Richard Clarke and pressed him to get more informtion about Iraq, despite the fact that Clarke and others could find no ties at all between Saddam Hussein and the 9-11 attacks.

This administration also would not tolerate any real debate, any nuance, any equivocation on what raw intelligence revealed.

So, this isn't just a failure of intelligence. That failure dovetailed perfectly with an administration intent on war. The Commission claims 'there is no indication that the Intelligence Community distorted the evidence regarding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.'

As Todd Purdum puts it by quoting from the Commision's report in Friday's New York Times(reg. required):

"It is hard to deny the conclusion that intelligence analysts worked in an environment that did not encourage skepticism about the conventional wisdom," the commission said. But that understated indictment is about the extent of the commission's effort to explain the responsibilities of the nation's highest officials for one of the worst intelligence failures of modern times.

Some are going to grab that conclusion and run with it, claiming the intelligence wasn't politicized. Maybe it wasn't--but certainly the top policymakers distorted the information from the Intelligence Community. There is no re-examination of that concern in this report. The president kept its charter narrow--only focused on the Intelligence Community and only regarding weapons of mass destruction.

The report runs over 600 pages.

Most worrisome is that the panel found that the situation isn't getting any better in regard to similar global threats. In other words, we have no consistently credible intelligence about North Korea and Iran. How bad is it? Taxpayers will not know by reading the report. The critical CURRENT intelligence problems identified by the Commission remain classified.

Think anything substantial will change within the Intelligence community? Well, given the lackluster White House leadership after the 9-11 Commission Report, I wouldn't hold my breath.


PS: Remember CIA Director George Tenet getting the Freedom Award from the president? What WAS that about?


The Lehrer News Hour conducted a Q-and-A segment with Paul Wolfowitz tonight. He's one of the architects of the Iraq War and all but guaranteed to head the World Bank. Why do the people who didn't ask the right questions, in fact discouraged those questions regarding the rationale for war, get rewarded?

Rest in Peace

Terri Schiavo is one of the few now completely spared the bedside analysis of her struggle, exploitation and death. She died this morning.

Every patronizing, grandstanding geek is now making political hay on her grave. Including our supercilious Theocrat in Chief:

``The essence of civilization is that the strong have a duty to protect the weak,'' Bush said. ``In cases where there are serious doubts and questions, the presumption should be in favor of life.'

Of course there were NO serious doubts and questions by numerous doctors who had spent time with her: Mrs. Schiavo was determined years ago to be in a persistent vegetative state. Who she was as a sentient person left this world long ago. But science and medicine and facts have never been a favorite of the president or his right wing ilk (see first item). These are the same people who, 500 years ago, would glean cosmic messages from animal entrails.


Now if only someone would pull the feeding tube from Fox's Sean Hannity, the fascist radio host who was broadcasting outside of Mrs. Schiavo's hospice. Respectful? Dignified? Try grotesque.

Hannity's been in a vegetative state for a long time. Plus, for a guy who derides modern society for a lack of civility, I am shocked, shocked to hear him talk like this (children, cover your ears):

At least we can all resume our interest in the Jacko trial.


Ted Koppel announced today he will step down as the anchor of ABC's Nightline in early December. One of the few true reality shows that matters--because it deals in facts and hard questions--won't be the same at all. Maybe he has even had simply enough of the idiocy.


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