Day By Day

Monday, February 20, 2006

Paul R. Pillar has a sensationalistic and controversial article in Foreign Affairs, alleging that the Bush administration cherry picked intelligence information to support going to war in Iraq [here]. Of course Pillar has been all over the tube repeating his allegations to anyone with a microphone.

Patrick Chisholm, writing in the Christian Science Monitor, however, uses Pillar's own evidence to show that whatever cherry picking took place, it was done within the intelligence community and not at the direction of the White House, and that his other allegations -- that the administration ignored predictions of turmoil in post-invasion Iraq, and that they over-estimated evidence tying Iraq to al Qaeda, are simply asserted without any supporting evidence.

Read it here.

The CIA's attempt to cover its own butt and to shift blame onto the White House continues, but with decreasing effect. These guys are becoming a laughing stock.

Even the LA Times realizes what a fraud this whole thing is. Danielle Pletka writes:
GALLONS OF ink have been spilled since 2003 about how the Bush administration ignored internal predictions of post-war instability, terrorism and rising Islamism in Iraq. Intelligence, critics argue, was "cherry-picked" to bolster the argument for war. What much of the public doesn't realize is that the CIA's Monday-morning quarterbacks, who originated many of the complaints, are themselves handpicking intelligence to boost their antiwar cause.

This is a well-trodden road, littered with bitter treatises and interviews from ex-spooks and hangers-on such as Michael Scheuer, the "anonymous" author of "Imperial Hubris," and former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV and his ex-CIA wife, Valerie Plame. The latest offering comes from Paul Pillar, a former CIA deputy counterterrorism chief, in the March/April issue of Foreign Affairs.

But Pillar, while rehashing every myth about the run-up to the Iraq war (and adding a few new ones), inadvertently lays bare a rarely discussed Washington truth: that the CIA itself is a political organization. Far from being manipulated by policymakers within the Bush administration (as Pillar alleges), it is the agency that has regularly and aggressively used its intelligence gathering and analysis to bolster preformed political opinions about hot-button issues from the Cold War to Iran's nuclear weapons program.

Prevailing CIA views shine through in briefings to the U.S. government, in backgrounders to reporters and in the selective leaking of classified information. The agency recruits (and rejects) outside assets based on its own political priorities. And why not? In a town where even first-graders hold passionate political views, it seems hardly surprising that a player so integral to sensitive policymaking would too. The only shock about the politicization of the agency is that officials bother to deny it.
This is self-evident to anyone having even a passing acquaintance with the bureaucratic wars that rage incessantly inside the beltway. The CIA is notorious for this sort of thing and, facing major shakeups from the Bush administration, are striking at the President with everything they've got. It's not going to be enough.

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