Thursday, April 7


Jacob Weisberg reacts to the Intelligence Commission's conclusion that there was no politicization involved in the intelligence screwups leading to the Iraq invasion.

On one central point, however, the report is utterly, laughably, embarrassingly unpersuasive: that our world-altering intelligence screw-up was not the result of political pressure from the White House. "The Commission has found no evidence of 'politicization' of the Intelligence Community's assessments concerning Iraq's reported WMD programs," the document declares. But all you need is the report itself to see just how obviously intelligence was politicized.
Co-chairman Chuck Robb and his colleagues have a trick that allows them to deny the obvious with a straight face. They rely heavily on an apparently actual figure at the CIA called the "Ombudsman for Politicization." To this Dvorkin-esque super-spook, politicization (as is explained in a crucial footnote on Page 247) is "alteration of analytical judgments under pressure to reach a particular conclusion." The CIA's ombudsman has issued his own report finding—you guessed it—"no evidence" of such politicization of the intelligence on Iraqi WMD.

Can torturing a definition violate the Geneva Convention? If a CIA analyst loads the dice so that his boss can tell the president that evidence of Iraqi WMD is a "slam dunk," that's not politicization, according to the Ombudsman for Politicization's phrase book. If an analyst tilts to the wrong side of a factual question in hopes of increasing funding for his division, that's not politicization. If he shades the truth lest his agency be eclipsed by a more tractable, reporting-to-Rumsfeld rival, that's not politicization, either. Inside this legalistic boundary, all the bureaucratic imperatives of Washington—about which the report is elsewhere quite shrewd—suddenly cease to exist. It only counts as "politicization" if a policymaker explicitly demands that an analyst change his views to produce a desired result. Anything short of blunt subornation, and we're in the squishier realm of "tunnel-vision," "reliance on prevailing assumptions," and "an environment that did not encourage skepticism about the conventional wisdom," as the report alternately terms it.
Another tidbit from the intel commission report: Even after it became overwhelmingly clear that the CIA had been gulled about Saddam's biological weapons by the defector known as "Curveball," the agency still wouldn't acknowledge the truth "because of concerns about how this would look to the 'Seventh Floor,' and to 'downtown.' " In short, the CIA continued to suppress the truth even after its original, politically driven errors were exposed, lest the White House and political appointees at the agency be displeased. Politics? Sorry, friend. There just isn't any evidence.


Post a Comment

<< Home