Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Feith and Reason - There seems to be no more impenetrable fortress of imaginary thinking than that occupied by those who have convinced themselves that President Bush manipulated intelligence or pressured intelligence agencies to do so in order to "lie" America into war against Iraq. I suppose we should not be surprised that the idea maintains its currency; anything said often enough and with sufficient fervor will begin to take on a life of its own in the current political climate. It’s all the more disturbing when craven Democrat leaders parrot the charge, as did Senator Ted Kennedy during a January 14, 2004 speech in Washington D.C.

The advocates of war in Iraq desperately sought to make the case that Saddam was linked to 9/11 and Al Qaeda, and that he was on the verge of acquiring a nuclear capability. They created an Office of Special Projects in the Pentagon to analyze the intelligence for war. They bypassed the traditional screening process and put pressure on intelligence officers to produce the desired intelligence and analysis.
Similarly, Al Gore repeated the hackneyed charge in a January 16, 2006 speech jointly sponsored by the Liberty Coalition and the American Constitution Society. During his MLK Day remarks, he opined that "CIA analysts who strongly disagreed with the White House… found themselves under pressure at work and became fearful of losing promotions and salary increases."

I suppose that these efforts on the part of elected Democrats should not surprise, as they represent the only way for the Pelosis, Clintons and Kerrys of the Congress to appear credible to both the fringe left that has become the Democratic base and to the American public in general. Indeed, the only story that they can tell with a straight face is that they were lied to by the President.

In their version of events, George Bush manipulated, or pressured others to manipulate, intelligence that was used to justify the invasion of Iraq. So now, we have Bush hatred and political expediency commingling to bring about our present spectacle. Fortunately - the revisionist impulses of progressives notwithstanding - we have the results of several independent investigations to insure that our memories comport themselves with the historical record. To wit:
- The July 2004 Senate Intelligence Committee Report, which stated that the committee, "did not find any evidence that Administration officials attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to change their judgments related to Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction."

- The March 2005 Robb-Silberman Report on WMD Intelligence which found, "no evidence of political pressure to influence the Intelligence Community’s pre-war assessments of Iraq’s weapons programs" and went on to say, "We conclude that it was the paucity of intelligence and poor analytical tradecraft, rather than political pressure, that produced the inaccurate pre-war intelligence assessments."
Ah yes, what of the sad and sorry "intelligence community." Before the start of the Iraq War, it was but an emasculated shadow of what it should have been, thanks in no small measure to many of the same Democratic congressmen and liberal special interest groups who claimed that intelligence was manipulated to justify the Iraq War.†

But the better part of our opprobrium is best reserved for the politicians who continue to say anything on any given day to pander to their base on the matter of prewar intelligence. And so I continue to reserve the fullest measure of my disdain for Sen. Carl Levin, who remains the lone holdout in the Senate who still caries a torch for this thoroughly discredited belief.

More to come...

Nothing more dramatically illustrates the neutered status of the America’s intelligence operations than the controversy surrounding "Able Danger", a secret military intelligence unit. In August of 2005, two veteran intelligence officers, Colonel Anthony Schaffer and Navy Captain Scott J. Phillpott revealed that Able Danger identified Mohamed Atta and three of the other 9/11 hijackers by mid-2000, but were prevented from providing this information to the FBI by Pentagon lawyers. In a subsequent Pentagon probe, Defense Department officials acknowledged locating "three more people who recall seeing an intelligence briefing slide that identified the ring leader of the 9/11 attacks a year before the hijackings and terrorist strikes." Although this information was presented to the 9/11 Commission (as Captain Phillpott claims to have briefed the commission in July of 2004), the Commission’s final report, released on July 22, 2004, concluded that "American intelligence agencies were unaware of Mr. Atta until the day of the attacks."

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