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Ian Masters hosts two of the best public affairs shows in radio: "Background Briefing" and "Live From The Left Coast" on KPFK Los Angeles. Here's a great commentary he sent over about the state of the U.S. intelligence apparatus:
After declaring "mission accomplished" and then challenging the insurgents to "bring it on," George W. Bush now tells us that we can't afford to lose the war he already "won," because al Qaeda will be left in charge of Iraq. The nightmare scenario he invented before invading Iraq, has become a nemesis of his own creation.
Meanwhile our boys and girls are losing life and limbs fighting for Iran's surrogates in a civil war against the Sunnis whose patrons, our allies the Saudis, Jordan and Egypt, won't sit by and see defeated. If and when the Kurdish north, controlled by two rival mafias, decides to opt out, they will either be invaded by the Turkish army or have their oil lifeline cut. With Iran and Halliburton the only "winners" in this conflict so far, we are pouring our treasure into an oil-rich area that we have made increasingly unstable, causing gas prices to rise and ExxonMobil to post record profits.
Although the President's mistake has become our problem, a growing majority of Americans who Congressman Murtha just spoke for, want to redeploy troops out of Iraq soon and move on. But Bush is trying to weasel out of his responsibility for a preemptive, optional and unnecessary war he ordered. We can't let him get away with it.
It's not so much that the War Party lied to get us into Iraq, they told howlers. In feeding manufactured intelligence back to themselves, their deception ironically became the germ of their undoing. In as much as the Niger documents triggered Ambassador Wilson's fool's errand that backfired, the tawdry confection the International Atomic Energy Agency called "crude forgeries," became a justification for war.
Ms. Rice's claim of aluminum tubes as centrifuges was like comparing raw silicone to the latest Intel chip. Rocket launchers 81mm in diameter are nothing like a highly engineered array of centrifuges that spin at 70,000 RPM with rotating baffles inside. As for the aptly-named "Curveball", his "intelligence", like the Niger forgeries, was fed to Cheney/Libby from foreign sources that circumvented normal channels where they wouldn't pass the laugh test, then on to George Tenet, who left the Secretary of State holding the bag before the UN Security Council, which Colin Powell now regards as the worst moment in his life. How "Curveball's" drunken ramblings ended up being the underpinning of America's case for war at the UN should be a matter of abiding shame, not shifting blame.
Recently the Democrats invoked a Senate rule to embarrass Senator Pat Roberts, the chairman of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee to start oversight and stop stonewalling for the White House. Shortly after the Iraq war began, Robert's Democrat counterpart Senator Rockefeller sent a letter (which Roberts refused to sign off on) to Director Mueller of the FBI requesting an investigation into the Niger forgeries but Roberts has been using his power to delay and keep the selling of pre-war intelligence secret.
Regardless of what, if anything we find out, the real crime has been committed and the damage done. Blame for the 9/11 and W.M.D. crash and burn of intelligence has been shifted from the driver to the car. Perhaps many intelligence analysts were silent because they couldn't get past the absurdity of the Niger claim, since Saddam already had 700 metric tons of uranium yellowcake outside of Baghdad he couldn't process. Sadly, except for the State Department's small intelligence shop, INR, the rest in the alphabet soup of intelligence agencies are going the way of Rumsfeld's Office of Special Plans. The best and the brightest have been structurally and institutionally neutered with the top-down message reading loud and clear that it is not a good career move to speak truth to power.
Worse, the political overlay intelligence czar Negroponte represents is hardly reform since he is even more craven than Tenet in trading access for influence. A courtier, not a Cassandra, the DNI was recently selling PR dressed up as intelligence while Iraq was going south on his watch. As for the DCI, a partisan politician Porter Goss, he and his wrecking crew, the "Gosslings", are forcing institutional knowledge out the door faster than you can recruit Arab-speaking young Republicans to evangelize against the evildoers.
The Soviets collapsed because their leaders couldn't tell rhetoric from reality. Ironically it was the KGB who instituted reform because only they knew how rotten the state was. Don't count on our truth-tellers preventing another Iraq, especially with media like Fox News acting as the "Pravda" of the ruling party. We are flying blind; our media is deaf and our leaders dumb.
Jan Frel is an AlterNet staff writer.