Monday, December 10, 2007

When Intelligence isn't Spin, Spinsters React

Since the publication on a National Intelligence Estimate about Iran and its nuclear weapon, the Bush administration, by many accounts, seems to be in full strategic retreat. However, as Dan Froomkin from reported, W has already started covering his own liability. Since he has had a few more months than the rest of the country to prepare for the release of the NIE, you can be sure that he has already appropriately adjusted his warmongering. Here is a look at how the NIE was produced.

Surprisingly, the news media is still listening to Norman Podhoretz and John Bolton about anything, and specifically in this case, intelligence. Here is a report that relies upon their opinions, yet doesn't point out the problem with citing them as experts. Norman Podhoretz, for instance, made a career of out of being a neoconservative pundit before the heyday of neoconservatism. One of his earliest and best-known works is a racist diatribe about how he hated black people. But, more relevant to the current discussion is his complete lack of experience in the intelligence community. While he may be retired now, he was an original signatory of the "Project for the New American Century," the ideological framework for W's administration and foreign policy, meaning that he is deeply invested in making sure that history has a favorable impression of the administration. John Bolton, for his part, is also intensely involved in the Project. He has made a career for being a diplomat or wandering mouth for conservative presidents. Bolton also has no experience in working in the intelligence community, but does have something of a reputation for cooking intelligence for political purposes. Since the intelligence community is notionally no longer under the thumb of the neoconservatives that make up the decision-making in the W administration, these two old warriors are now resorting to ad hominem attacks on what appears to be dissident voices within the federal bureaucracy. "But I (Norman Podhoretz) entertain an even darker suspicion. It is the intelligence community, which has for so many years now been leaking material calculated to undermine George W Bush, is doing it again." Behold, the evolution of spin, now those who pushed the intelligence community to supply, what can most graciously be called, misleading intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, accuse those who are career intelligence officials of politicizing their work.

The Pentagon, for its part, has dispatched the uniformed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, to Israel to speak with their Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, and their intelligence analysts. During the whirlwind 24 hour visit, Adm. Mullen will probably explain the constitution and the fact that the President doesn't really need the support of the American people to expand the war to Iran, something that would be hard to understand for those who live in a free, demoratic society.

Reps. Peter Hoekstra (MI 2nd) and Jane Harman (CA 36th) published an op-ed today in the Wall Street Journal questioning the quality of the intelligence organization that they were notionally in charge of overseeing as Ranking Members and Chairpersons of the House Intelligence Committee. Defending the mischaracterizations of intelligence on the part of the W administration, "..., intelligence is in many ways an art, not an exact science." In summation, the entire piece reads like an apology for delivery the wrong intelligence, although they also go into a little ad homineming against the intelligence analysts who produced the report (the confidence remark).

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