[FoRK] Re: All The Rope II: Noose of Words

jbone at place.org jbone at place.org
Sat Mar 20 13:25:54 PST 2004

I just want to make sure we sort out a few pertinent "facts" from the 
tangled knot of self-deception in Greg's "position" here.

> Clinton's decision to unilaterally go to war in Iraq

So wait --- we went to war w/ Iraq during the Clinton administration?  
I must've slept through that one.

> (before exacting last minute concessions out of Saddam in 1998)

Oh, right.  We *did not* go to war w/ Iraq during the Clinton 
administration.  Point being, there's a difference between policy and 
action, and a difference between intent and execution.  Such 
distinctions are apparently a bit subtle for policy expert Bolcer (and 
any number of our current misleaders.)

> What I've always argued is that Powell's speech to the
> UN was the best cumulation of intelligence at the time and the
> strongest case for war in Iraq.

Let's also remember that mere days before Powell's speech he was 
allegedly on the verge of resignation due to the "bullshit" (his words) 
nature of the brief he received from the CIA which was to form the 
basis of his claims he was to make in the 2/5/2003 UN speech.  Whatever 
changed his mind will most likely remain a mystery until Powell 
releases his memoirs --- if then.  My guess is it's ugly.  Would have 
to be.

Let's also remember that there was a wild difference of opinions in 
both the quantitative and qualitative nature of the Iraq threat in and 
among the intelligence community.  The Powell brief did not represent a 
"best" consensus --- rather, it represented the analysis that best fit 
the prejudicial assumptions that some in and around the White House 
already held.

> You either believed it or you didn't.

Plenty who were in a position to have an informed opinion --- didn't.  
Reputedly Powell himself didn't at least a few days before the UN 

> I'm making the argument that the photographic evidence as stated is 
> pretty clear.

Pretty clearly wrong, a posteriori.

Take your pick:  deception or incompetence.  Integrity or dependability.

> Taken in conjunction with the suspect intelligence, its a fairly 
> certain story.

Fairly certainly wrong.  Of course, hind sight is 20/20.  The problem 
is that many within the intelligence community were 20/20 *in 
foresight.*  Given the nature of the spit of opinion it's clear that 
assessments were cherry-picked to support a prejudicial opinion.

> Blaming it on some neo-Bourbon is a cop out.

Just because you're paranoid that doesn't mean that they aren't out to 
get you. ;-) :-)

> I don't feel blinded so much as a desire to avoid all the personality 
> and political debate and find out really why
> the intelligence was so off.

Neither the deception theory (including, perhaps, massive 
self-deception among the misleadership) nor incompetence are really 
encouraging, Greg.

As for the reason the intelligence was so "off" --- let me offer my 
hypothesis.  It's an unholy conjunction of different kinds of badness.  
Fact:  many in and around the misleadership have been obsessed with SH 
for decades, for reasons ranging from guilt over having created a 
monster (DR) to familial obsession ("he tried to kill my dad" - GWB) to 
more sophisticated and questionable reasons (the neocons).  Fact:  
there was a lack of consensus among the intelligence community, with 
the folks "closer" to primary intel tending to support a lower threat 
assessment yet with position up the food chain correlating more and 
more closely to a higher threat assessment.  This speaks to distortion 
of the intelligence, willfully and accidentally, by an organizational 
structure that had been fucked with and fucked up over a decade by 
multiple administrations, an intelligence community where the work 
product had more to do w/ political and career imperatives than 
anything real.  And ultimately, some of the "blame" may indeed rest w/ 
SH.  Like most megalomaniacal dictators, SH's obsession w/ "face" and 
"power" was paramount, and he may have intentionally sought to deceive 
particularly his neighbors into believing that he actually had and 
retained more force capability than, indeed, he had.  But that's a thin 
facade, one that any reasonably competent intelligence analyst --- for 
lack of hard facts to the contrary --- should've been (and, quite 
possibly, was) able to see through.

There's no huge mystery here except for the dogheaded unwillingness of 
certain partisans to see the clear and obvious truth for what it is:  a 
tragicomic melange of ignorance, stupidity, incompetence, low 
integrity, arrogance, (self-)deception, and politics.

No one person's or group's fault.  Plenty of blame to go around.


More information about the FoRK mailing list