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is what Arthur Keller told his boss at the CIA when he

was given a list of Iraqis who had supposedly worked on WMD programs and was told to interview as many of them as possible as quickly as possible.

 This was upon his arrival in Baghdad as a CIA case officer, an experience that he describes in a fascinating piece on the front page of the Outlook section of today's Washington Post entitled What We Didn't Learn From the Hunt for Iraq's Phantom Arsenal with the extended subtitle of "The good news: We're not going to war with Iran. The bad news: We still don't know what they're thinking."  In fact, that subtitle is used as the screaming headline over both of the lead pieces, the other of which, by Vali Nash, is about the real leader of Iran, Atyatollah Ali Khamanei.  In this diary I am going to focus on Keller's piece, because it provides another window into how intelligence was distorted for political reasons.

Keller's piece is prefaced by a long introduction from the editors.  They provide the context of the release of the NIE on Iran by Admiral McConnell, which of course demonstrated that the previous NIE in 2005 which warned about the Iranian determination to get a nuclear bomb despite that country having stopped its weapons program in 2003 was wrong.  The end of that intro is instructive:

In the midst of hard questions about how intelligence is gathered, used and abused, Keller's experiences make for a cautionary fable. How did we blow it so badly in Iraq, and how could we be blowing it in Iran? To Keller, the answer lies in the shadowy world of human-intelligence collection.

Keller did two tours, in 2003 and 2004, based in the Baghdad airport zone that was home to the Iraq Survey Group.  He describes how he decided to focus on a senior member of the Military Industrial Commission of the Iraqi government, someone he never threatened, and with whom he took time to build rapport, because as he notes

Surprising as it may sound, the CIA teaches that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar: A source recruited by force will provide information only grudgingly, and he'll lie to you whenever he thinks he can, simply out of spite.

 Let me quote the portion where he describes their interactions:

My meetings with this official consisted of a litany of complaints, but the CIA trains case officers to be relentlessly pleasant, even when it sticks in your craw. What annoyed me most was that he often had a point. "The Baath Party purge is a disaster," he'd tell me. "I know," I'd reply. "The disbanding of the Iraqi Army is a disaster." "I know." "We have no power, water or safety." "I know." And so on. It wasn't until the fourth meeting that real nuggets started coming. Still, I never paid him a dime. I think he just wanted to look a U.S. official in the eye and tell the truth about the mistakes the occupation government was making.

The next sentence, which begins another paragraph, is absolutely telling, and needs to be set apart:

But Washington was not so patient.

  We already have heard multiple times how this administration pressured the intelligence agencies before the war to provide "intelligence" that "proved" the case for going to war.   Let me put the sentence I have just quoted in the context of the brief paragraph in which it appears:

But Washington was not so patient. The political pressure from home was murderous. During a pre-invasion trip back to CIA headquarters, I listened to my boss describe the stress on Langley's WMD specialists: "Remember the movie 'Das Boot,' where the sub is so deep it's close to getting crushed from the pressure? That's HQ right now. We're going to hear some very weird stuff emanating from HQ because nobody under that kind of pressure thinks straight."

Keller describes the results of that pressure -  case officers with no expertise in WMD being sent to Iraq merely to have warm bodies there, despite the long training it takes to become competent in the subject matter.  Here I might note, although Keller does not, that this overlaps with the exposure of Valerie Plame, who was an expert in WMD, and the entire network with which she was involved through the front company of Brewster Jennings.  

To make things even worse, those agents untrained in WMD were sent to Iraq, in contradiction to CIA policy, without training in how to avoid ambushes, and when there, often travelled in insecure and highly visible vehicles, exposing them to a high risk of attack, resulting in one stretch where the ISG lost an armored vehicle in each of three consecutive weeks.  As Keller notes,

The dearth of CIA fatalities was due far more to luck than to skill.

Let me offer a complete paragraph that I think is key:

But for all these lapses, the CIA accomplished something of a mission impossible: proving a negative. In candid moments, most of the group's members had quietly acknowledged by late 2003 that Iraq had no banned weapons for us to find. But we kept searching for another year, until shortly after the November 2004 U.S. elections. Like a zombie, the group was kept alive long after it should have expired, seemingly because the only way to minimize the political damage of the truth was to let the White House announce, "Our teams are still looking for Hussein's arsenal." Given the perennial shortage of CIA case officers, the Bush administration's insistence on keeping the Iraq Survey Group open meant that other crucial work didn't get done. Someday, when an attack catches the CIA unawares, which politico will take responsibility for this dangerous diversion?

Note some of the issues - the intelligence professionals had demonstrated that there were no banned weapons, but were required to keep searching until shortly after the November 2004 U. S. elections.  Aha, yet again politicization of the intelligence function.  And misapplication of scarce resources meaning that other crucial work didn't get done, which of course parallels the removal of troops from Afghanistan before completely destroying al Qaeda and the Taliban in order to prepare for the invasion of Iraq.   Let me also repeat the last sentence of that paragraph, because it is critical: Someday, when an attack catches the CIA unawares, which politico will take responsibility for this dangerous diversion?

In the print version of Outlook, there is a "jump" to an inside page.  When one gets there, one encounters a different headline:

No Wonder Nobody Wants to Spy for the U. S.

 There is one paragraph that explains why this head is justified, and it is when Keller goes through the history of U.S. betrayals in Iraq:

So recruiting spies inside any black program is a near impossibility. Even so, when it came to Iraq, the CIA's cupboard was extraordinarily bare. By the late 1990s, Iraqis had a powerful aversion to working with the CIA, largely because of past U.S. misfires: the Kurdish revolt that President Richard Nixon spurned in the 1970s, the Shiite and Kurdish uprisings after Operation Desert Storm that President George H.W. Bush abandoned, the feckless Clinton-era attempts to foment yet another Kurdish rebellion.

  While Americans may forget such history, the Iraqis did not, which as Keller notes made them far less likely to cooperate with the CIA and and other US agencies.  Keller applies this paradigm to our current situation with Iran, where although attacks no longer seem imminent, we are still relatively blind when it comes to the intentions and previous activities of the Iranian nuclear effort, because penetrating black programs is always difficult.  He ends his piece as follows:

Let's just say you were an Iranian nuclear physicist back in 2003, working on a bomb program that you believed was immoral. Now look at the decades-long debacle of U.S. policy in Iraq. Will all those who want to volunteer to spy for the CIA raise their hands? Anyone? Anyone?

This administration has damaged the United States in so many ways it is mindblowing to even begin to list.   Here at home we have seen our civil liberties ravaged in the name of national security.  Politically we have seen the Constitutional ideas of separation of powers and checks and balances not merely ignored but actively opposed.  We have gone from universal sympathy for the US immediately after 9/11 to a period when this country is more hated and despised than in any point of the 61+ years I have been on this earth.  Our military is exceedingly stretched if not already broken, with the seed corn of the younger officers increasingly walking away after their minimum commitment of service.  We have sought to balance that by increasing use of paramilitary groups like Blackwater, by privatizing both military and intelligence functions.  For political reasons we destroyed an important network that did give us information about the WMD that supposedly is such a great threat to our national security.  We have moved very much in the direction of bankrupting the future economy because of the massive debts already incurred and still accumulating because of our Iraqi debacle.  

From my perspective as an active Democrat, I do not understand why those of our party on the Hill and/or running for president are not hammering the administration and the Republicans for weakening America.  If the Republicans want to run on national security,why not take up the challenge and show how their approach - which has been to politicize national security rather than address it - has made the country less safe.

Of greater importance, as a resident of the metropolitan area of our national capital where the political and national security news is also our local news, and where we all must realize that we live in a bullseye, a high target area for any future attacks upon the nation, I want to know why my government continues to act in a fashion that makes us more vulnerable.

So let me end with a modified version of the Keller's ending:

Will all those who think our country has been made more safe by the actions of this administration raise their hands? Anyone? Anyone?

And if your hands are not up, what the hell are you going to do to fix the problem?

just a quick addition - be sure also to read this diary by Lithium Cola which is related.  Peace

Originally posted to teacherken on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 05:13 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  here is the tip jar I am supposed to have (134+ / 0-)

    it is not that I need mojo, but I do believe, within reason, in abiding by community standards.

    I look forward to any comments you may choose to share.

    peace.

    Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH! If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy

    by teacherken on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 05:15:05 AM PST

    •  Your mojo is your grade on this essay - A+ (21+ / 0-)

      This is one of your best diaries. You do great work when you analyze the implications of government policies. When we look at the effect of Bush's policies, as you have done, we see that his actions are nothing short of treason.

      Bush has aided and abetted Al Qaeda by weakening our military and intelligence capabilities and inflaming the Muslim world by killing and abusing thousands of Muslims.

      Bush talks and acts tough, but his actions have weakened us and emboldened those who would attack us.

      "It's the planet, stupid."

      by FishOutofWater on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 06:37:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  thanks for your kind words n/t (6+ / 0-)

        Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH! If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy

        by teacherken on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 06:43:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I second Fish's comment & John Edwards... (6+ / 0-)

        From my perspective as an active Democrat, I do not understand why those of our party on the Hill and/or running for president are not hammering the administration and the Republicans for weakening America.  If the Republicans want to run on national security,why not take up the challenge and show how their approach - which has been to politicize national security rather than address it - has made the country less safe.

        May I remind you of a speech given by John Edwards:

        We must move beyond the wreckage created by one of the greatest strategic failures in U.S. history: the war in Iraq. Rather than alienating the rest of the world through assertions of infallibility and demands of obedience, as the current administration has done, U.S. foreign policy must be driven by a strategy of reengagement. We must reengage with our history of courage, liberty, and generosity.

        ___________

        This century's first test of our leadership arrived with terrible force on September 11, 2001. When the United States was attacked, the entire world stood with us. We could have pursued a broad policy of reengagement with the world, yet instead we squandered this broad support through a series of policies that drove away our friends and allies. A recent Pew survey showed the United States' approval ratings plummeting throughout the world between 2000 and 2006.

        ______________

        There is no question that we are less safe today as a result of this administration's policies. The Bush administration has walked the United States right into the terrorists' trap. By framing this struggle against extremism as a war, it has reinforced the jihadists' narrative that we want to conquer the Muslim world and that there is a "clash of civilizations" pitting the West against Islam. From Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib, the "war on terror" has tragically become the recruitment poster al Qaeda wanted. Instead of reengaging with the peoples of the world, we have driven too many into the terrorists' arms. In fact, defining the current struggle against radical Islamists as a war minimizes the challenge we face by suggesting that the fight against Islamist extremism can be won on the battlefield alone.

        •  Edwards is right, Bush is Osama's best recruiter (7+ / 0-)

          John Edwards understands the problem of terrorism.

          There is no question that we are less safe today as a result of this administration's policies. The Bush administration has walked the United States right into the terrorists' trap. By framing this struggle against extremism as a war, it has reinforced the jihadists' narrative that we want to conquer the Muslim world and that there is a "clash of civilizations" pitting the West against Islam. From Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib, the "war on terror" has tragically become the recruitment poster al Qaeda wanted.

          "It's the planet, stupid."

          by FishOutofWater on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 08:51:57 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  A+ = tien! (The Dutch grade from 0 to 10.) (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ER Doc, Newzie

        The Germans grade from 6 (worst, F) to 1 (best).

        The Dutch children's chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen (= “kids for kids”): is a world cultural treasure.

        by lotlizard on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 07:45:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  The community (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      teacherken, RunawayRose

      would've survived the oversight.

      •  not saying it wouldn't have (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RunawayRose

        would you prefer I not put up a tip jar?

        Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH! If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy

        by teacherken on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 10:05:37 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, the community appreciates the tip jar (0+ / 0-)

          because it lets us express our appreciation directly, in addition to the "recommend". It also let's us troll-rate the diarist, even though we can't troll-rate the diary, (like that's ever going to happen to you!)
              I think Kos was snarking on your habit of editorializing on the idea of tip jars in all your tip jars...

          -5.12, -5.23

          We are men of action; lies do not become us.

          by ER Doc on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 02:25:48 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  At least one canddiate has attacked Bush (4+ / 0-)

      for weakening America.

      George Bush's approach to terrorism has not only failed to make the world safer. It has demolished the foundation of America's foreign policy: our relationships with other countries. In the first Gulf War, our allies shared the cost of troops, casualties, and funding. But in the current Iraq War, the Bush approach left us largely on our own, bearing almost all of the burden.

      Tragically for America and the world, George Bush's "war on terror" approach walked directly into the trap the terrorists set for us. Islamic extremists wanted to frame the conflict with the U.S. as a war of civilizations, and the Bush Administration, stuck in a Cold War mentality, happily complied.

      There is now only one key question we must ask ourselves: are we any closer to getting rid of terrorism than we were six years ago? And the terrible answer is no, we're further away. Today, terrorism is worse in Iraq, and it's worse around the world. So what does all this mean? It means the results are in on George Bush's so-called "global war on terror" and it's not just a failure, it's a double-edged failure.

      The Bush approach hasn't only made the terror problem worse. The Administration has rigidly stuck to outdated approaches that are ineffective against the modern terrorist threat. We need a counterterrorism policy that will actually counter terrorism. That matches 21st century threats with 21st century tactics. That replaces Cold War thinking designed to defeat a single, implacable enemy with new world thinking that can defeat a multi-national, diverse, and often hidden foe—not just now, but for the long-term. That's strong, fast, and hard enough to stop terrorists cold, but also smart, honest, and prescient enough to draw people away from terrorism in the first place.

      A New Strategy Against Terrorism

      The GWOT is Bush's rationale for foreign wars and attacks on the Constiution at home.

      "The truth is the system in Washington is corrupt." John Edwards

      by TomP on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 11:10:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  quickly, skillfully, cheaply (18+ / 0-)

    we always used to say that, when doing an important job, you can have two of those three, but not all three.

    somehow the Republicans have managed to conduct almost every aspect of their foreign policy slowly, ineptly and expensively.

    Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.
    IMPEACH CHENEY FIRST.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 05:19:19 AM PST

  •  LithiumCola has a related diary (17+ / 0-)

    a few down from mine, entitled LA Times: Bush Gutted Iranian Intelligence Before 2005.   I suggest reading that diary as well as this.

    Peace.

    Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH! If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy

    by teacherken on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 05:19:54 AM PST

  •  Interesting (20+ / 0-)

    By the late 1990s, Iraqis had a powerful aversion to working with the CIA, largely because of past U.S. misfires: the Kurdish revolt that President Richard Nixon spurned in the 1970s, the Shiite and Kurdish uprisings after Operation Desert Storm that President George H.W. Bush abandoned, the feckless Clinton-era attempts to foment yet another Kurdish rebellion

    Boris Jordan points out the same exact thing on the very next page vis a vis Russia:

    Almost 15 years ago, I sat in the office of a young Russian government minister who remains influential today. He complained bitterly about the imperious treatment he and his colleagues received in their dealings with Americans. "Many of us are young," he said, "and we will never forget how we were treated."

    As Americans, we seem incapable or thinking longer term than the next election cycle. That is why we are always behind the eight ball, internationally speaking. The 1953 coup against Mossadegh informs our relations to this day with Iran, yet not one American in a thousand could tell me what that involved.

    The 18th Century deal between the Saud clan and Ibn Wahab reached a kind of apotheosis in 11 September, 2001, yet no one has a clue what that is.

    Allegedly, Kissenger asked Chou En-Lai (another historical figure Americans probably don't know) what he thought of the French Revolution. He is supposed to have replied, "It is too soon to tell."

    Truthiness? You can't HANDLE the truthiness!

    by calipygian on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 05:27:08 AM PST

    •  I had seen, but not read that piece on page 2 (16+ / 0-)

      of Outlook.  Thanks for pointing out the connection.

      Also related is a piece on page 2, by Armitage and Nye, entitled Stop Getting Mad, America.  Get Smart.  Let me offer just two snips.

      The beginning:

      The world is dissatisfied with American leadership. Shocked and frightened after 9/11, we put forward an angry face to the globe, not one that reflected the more traditional American values of hope and optimism, tolerance and opportunity.

      And one more paragraph:

      More broadly, when our words do not match our actions, we demean our character and moral standing. We cannot lecture others about democracy while we back dictators. We cannot denounce torture and waterboarding in other countries and condone it at home. We cannot allow Cuba's Guantanamo Bay or Iraq's Abu Ghraib to become the symbols of American power.

      Peace

      Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH! If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy

      by teacherken on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 05:35:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There needs to be (9+ / 0-)

      some kind of Agency for the Reclamation of Historical Memory. It's long struck me that if we are ever to have any kind of coherent foreign policy we need to address and admit and, inasmuch as possible, atone for past crimes. With this in mind any future administration really ought to make a concerted and official effort to educate the public. Don't think it will ever happen, but still.. once upon a time there was no EPA, no Civil Rights Division etc., so maybe some day we'll get around to taking the state of our collective awareness seriously. For now i guess it seems expedient to too many powerful people to keep us floundering in ignorance and confusion.

      "Your point. Their village." --Zhivago to Strelnikov

      by ailanthus on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 06:26:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The people that know the history (13+ / 0-)

        don't have much interest in policy, or they don't have much influence over policy. People that form policy, have no interest in history.

        When I was working in Bosnia, I don't know how many times I heard policy makers say, "Well these people have been killing each other for centuries." That is when I would launch into my patented lecture, whether they wanted to hear that or not. I would conclude the talk by saying that the Germans and the French had waged three supremely destructive wars in the last 140 years, yet no one today says "Those Krauts and Frogs have been killing each other for centuries. Let them go fuck themselves."

        That usually got their attention.

        That walrus looking motherfucker John Bolton said a few days ago that if intel people want to influence policy, they need to move over to State or Defense. He's got it half right. We need more policy people with history degrees and fewer with Political Science and Public Policy degrees. Otherwise were are just going to keep on complaining about how hot that red hot poker we keep ramming up our own asses is.

        Truthiness? You can't HANDLE the truthiness!

        by calipygian on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 06:35:56 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  this has been an eternal problem (9+ / 0-)

        he who wins the war controls the writing of the history thereof

        what, for example, do we really know about the religions and cults that competed with Christianity in the early years of the Common Era beyond what the Christian Apologists (and that is a technical term, not a pejorative) had to say about them, given that the originals of their works were apparently all destroyed?

        And given what we know about official commissions nowadays, how dependable are they as a recordation of what actually happened?  Anyone remember the Tower report on Iran-Contra?  I've oten wondered how  Ed Muskie might have been blackmailed or bribed to go along with its conclusions.  We now know how much information was not made available to, say, the 9-11 Commission, and thus how unreliable its conclusions may well be.

        Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH! If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy

        by teacherken on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 06:39:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  In other words (7+ / 0-)

          only mystics get to know the truth. In the historical realm there is only truthiness. Still, even a biased, flawed commission at least puts attention on a given event and says: This happened; It's important to know something about it. When Uncle Sam overthrows a popularly elected leader and installs a tyrannical puppet there might be different ways of interpreting and trying to spin that event but people should at least be aware that it happened, that it had consequences and that the consequences are still in effect. Otherwise we're just this blundering giant willfully fetishizing our ignorance, much like our current commander. A society that honors truth will make some provision for it in its civil institutions. Won't most likely get it right, but will at least make the effort, just the way some of us do in real life: try, flinchingly and haltingly and stumblingly and reluctantly to get at the real truth. Because, as the man said, and nobody has convincingly refuted him: the truth will make you free. Your diary is a case in point. Accurate intelligence is elusive, but still preferable to "intelligence" warped by an agenda. In public awareness as well, facts either come to light or are twisted and suppressed in the interest of a countervailing agenda. But someone has to plant the flag, state a public intention, issue a charter, chisel the words over the entrance of a building: here truth is acknowledged.

          "Your point. Their village." --Zhivago to Strelnikov

          by ailanthus on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 07:05:36 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  History is becoming too controversial to teach (6+ / 0-)

        in public schools because there is now the red or blue way to see the world.
        We have lost our consensus of reality.

        It cats could blog, they wouldn't.

        by crystal eyes on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 08:38:01 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Doesn't have to be that way. (4+ / 0-)

          Is a third way. Community of detached scholars seeking (not proclaiming) the truth. Differing views acknowledged, tolerated, tested against one another. Behind it all: good will, respect, absence of fear. These things exist, they've just been pushed aside in the current overheated climate, the panic of those who have no grounding in themselves, the rush to judgment. Getting at the truth is not some impossible ideal. It's just that we have never made it a priority. In the words of our commander in chief: it's hard work.

          "Your point. Their village." --Zhivago to Strelnikov

          by ailanthus on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 09:12:42 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Major irony: (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, walkshills, docangel, kyril

    this is exactly what Rumsfeld said HE could do!

  •  Ham handed leadership (10+ / 0-)

    The trouble is that.....no, some of the trouble is that our leadership have really no negotiation or diplomatic abilities at all. And we're exceedingly selfish, always thinking of our own aims and not the effect on the world we afflict them on..

    this was so In Vietnam, this is so in Iraq, its so in Iran negotiations.

    "Carrot and Stick" diplomacy has been changed to just "Stick."  Bush blusters and threatens and sabre rattles but there's no real incentive for others doing things our way other than we want them so and we're still the Big Dog on the block. But maybe not for long.

    Whats really happening underneath is the US is rapidly losing relevance in the world and others are taking over the vacuum our "non-leadership" brings. this is accelerating the more Bush does nothing and windowdresses nothing, like the Annapolis meetings--photo ops for georgie and Condi, nothing more--and the world knows it. and meanwhile the conflict represented there goes on--with no solution.

    We took away Iraq's two worst and closest enemies--Saddam and the Taliban--so OF COURSE theyre going to gain in power and hegemony. Bush sees this and what you see is his ineffective fight to shift the blame.

    So who the hell wants to spy for Bush? he doesn't have a friend in the MIdddle East, other than the ones he pays (or makes money off of)  Who thinks that spying for America is going to make his country better?

    not anyone with any brains or sense of survival.

    " You don't need to be an icthyologist to know when a rotten fish stinks." Daniel Ellsberg, from "Secrets"

    by exlrrp on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 05:45:15 AM PST

    •  oops correction (8+ / 0-)

      "...We took away Iraq's two worst and closest enemies..."

      Should read "...We took away Iran's two worst and closest enemies..."

      " You don't need to be an icthyologist to know when a rotten fish stinks." Daniel Ellsberg, from "Secrets"

      by exlrrp on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 05:49:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Who wants to spy for Bush? (6+ / 0-)

      No one who values his/her life or career.  Ask Valerie Plame how it worked out.  

      I really, REALLY would like to believe that W is just stupid but I am more and more inclined to think he is just plain bad: bad student, bad businessman, bad president, bad person.  We throw the word "evil" around a lot so I have avoided it here, but there are those folks who just seem to be the personification of evil and W is one of them.  Combined with his ignorance and lack of curiosity he is proving to be a deadly mistake for the country.  If there is no accounting before he leaves office, I fear that there will be nothing we can do to regain the trust of the country, let alone the world.  If we are not seen as addressing this mess now that everyone knows how truly awful it is, we will have zero credibility.  People will not only refuse to spy for us, but will never trust us to negotiate or deal squarely with them on any level.  Once that happens, we are through as a world power no matter how big and fierce our army.

      "We told the truth. We obeyed the law. We kept the peace." - Walter Mondale

      by luckylizard on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 06:02:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Bush is NOT stupid!! (13+ / 0-)

        I wish Democrats would quit saying that, it makes us look REAL bad because he has beaten us at every turn--and it means we were beaten by a stupid man. We weren't--we were beaten by people who always seem one step ahead of us---thats not stupid--unless we're REAL stupid. (Thats a definite possiblity, at least some of our leaders)

        Bush beat Gore, even though Gore is a lot smarter and more talented, because Gore gave up too easy and the Dems just rolled over, while the Bushies wee storming the gate in FL and getting their way. Gore conceded before all the votes were counted--how smart was that?
        (Please!! Don't all line up and tell me that Gore really beat Bush---if so, why has Bush been president these last 7 years! Saying Gore beat Bush is a losers feel-good consolation prize, meaning nothing.)

        You don't get to where he is and do what he's done if youre stupid. He's smart enough---just doesn't have much in the way of conscience or feeling for other people. And he is one arrrogant sumbitch, as are the people who work for him. These are people firmly convinced that their shit does not stink, that anyone who disagrees with them is wrong, who will never admit a mistake.

        You don't have to be real smart if youre lucky and your dad's president. But Bush is definitely smart enough to beat us and has these last 7 years.
        Democrats are now giving Bush ANOTHER blank check in the war---he doesn't have to be a genius to beat us.

        " You don't need to be an icthyologist to know when a rotten fish stinks." Daniel Ellsberg, from "Secrets"

        by exlrrp on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 06:28:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Smart like a fox (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          docangel, Byrnt, moosely2006

          as my mother used to say.

          Your comment needs wider circulation and acceptance.  It is dangerous to dismiss Bush  et cie as simply stupid

        •  Bush would not have been (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rlharry, Brooke In Seattle, lotlizard

          successful if it hadn't been for 9/11.  He and his flunkies were able to make the fear work for them.  In that way he has been quite clever, but he is not smart.  I hate to say it but you are correct: we have not been very smart ourselves.  Individual decisions have been less than smart but the really asinine thing Dems have done is cave to the fear.  Having done that, they find it almost impossible to retreat from those positions now.  What that will end up buying us in the ling run is yet to be determined, but I fear that it may not even end with a Dem sweep in '08.  There is plenty of stupid to go around....

          "We told the truth. We obeyed the law. We kept the peace." - Walter Mondale

          by luckylizard on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 07:42:47 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I think Bush can be stupid (4+ / 0-)

          I think he's shown it.

          But Bush is surrounded by people who aren't stupid, who make things happen.

          Or rather they might be stupid too (especially at realizing there are consequences to actions), but they are determined to gain and hold power for their side.  And that side is not Republican.  

          That's the problem, too many people think it's Republicans who are driving this bus.  These people are driving the Republicans, sectors of the Democrats, the evangelist hordes, the media and much of big business.

          If we think it's just Republicans, that's when we lose even when we win.  And I say that as a Canadian with no vote in your elections, because as a memeber of the rest of the world we are all watching with baited breath to see what choice you make.

          The Next Agenda "For Progressive Canadian Politics"

          by Bionic on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 09:16:30 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  There is a difference between (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          moosely2006

          brains and brawn.  In this case, brawn is money and power.

          Bush himself sounds pretty stupid, though he is apparently wily enough to get his little part of the "job" done for his masters and their political machine.

        •  Here's an informed view (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          teacherken

          in somewhat different terms, but in agreement with yours:  Bush, Iran and the Totalitarian Fiction by calltoliberty. In response I wrote a diary about the need to attack the key totalitarian fiction in all this, Attacking the supports.

          Here's Bush repeating the lie for the umpteenth time in his Dec. 4 press conference:

          THE PRESIDENT: Actually, I am -- I want to compliment the intelligence community for their good work. Right after the failure of intelligence in Iraq, we reformed the intel community so that there was a lot of serious considerations of NIEs in a way that would give us confidence. (emphasis mine)

          This is the BIG LIE, the one at the heart of it all, the one the administration has ruthlessly defended. Bush and OVP were the source of the intelligence failure, not CIA. Here he doesn't directly tag CIA, but everyone else in the administration and most of the national media do so. It's the siren call in the town square, it's the mother of all lies, it is the totalitarian fiction.

          "Peace is more distant than might be thought." - Subcommandante Marcos.

          by walkshills on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 01:13:46 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  "Bush blusters and threatens (6+ / 0-)

      and sabre rattles..." and the Democratic controlled congress folds like an empty suit.

      Oh, wait-that's not the subject here is it?

      My bad. It just fit so well I couldn't help myself.

      "Mankind must remember that peace is not God's gift to his creatures. It is our gift to each other." Elie Wiesel

      by witchamakallit on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 06:15:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Isn't all this obvious? (14+ / 0-)

    I mean aggressive questioning torture will get people to say what you want them to say; it will get them to talk a lot; but if you want the truth?  It ain't gonna work.

    Various authoritarian regimes have used torture to get people to sign confessions so that they could be shot.  The torture there 'worked' in that the authorities wanted confessions, and got them.  But truth?  nope

  •  regarding construction... (7+ / 0-)

    ...an architect I work with tells clients there are 3 elements:  accurate, fast, and inexpensive.  You can have any two of them.

    don't always believe what you think...

    by claude on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 06:02:46 AM PST

  •  Ken, you ask: (12+ / 0-)

    I want to know why my government continues to act in a fashion that makes us more vulnerable.

    My answer: Because it's not your/our government. It's the oligarchy, and they're carrying out their plan to vitiate government in order to privatize the planet. Of course, controlling the world's energy resources is a necessary prerequisite of that plan. The US military, treasury, and former reputationhas been their tool for carrying out their plan. They used the cloak of respectability to jide their true intentions.

    As for the Democrats, I think it's a case of 'shock and awe' and 'deer in the headlights'. How could they have guessed this plan? They thought they could twiddle their thumbs and count on the people to grow weary of the Republicans, and the Constitution would give them their turn next time. But the system has been, IMO, irretrievably broken intentionally, as in The Shock Doctrine, and next the vulture capitalists and disaster capitalists will swoop in to pick our carcass. In fact this is already happening: mining in National Parks and federal land to send the ores to China.
    ......
    Excellent diary, as ever. Thanks.

    •  thanks for noting my words and responding (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vivacia, Halcyon, lotlizard, moosely2006

      in a diary such as this I am simultaneously attempting several tasks.  Of course, on the surface, I am summarizing and illustrating an interesting published piece.  But the reason it is interesting to me as the ideas that it engenders in my mind, how it stimulates my own thinking, which I then also share as part of my posting.   Usually both get some discussion on the thread.  Today, for some reason, I have seen little discussion of my own thoughts.  Thanks for what you wrote.

      Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH! If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy

      by teacherken on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 06:42:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Intelligence for Idiots, vol 1,2,3,4....... (5+ / 0-)

    Chapter 1

    "I don't care about the truth, I want you to tell me what I want to know."

    It only gets worse from there. The World According to Garp, with Alfred E Newman acting as President.

  •  How would it have looked if (6+ / 0-)

    the Iraq Survey Group was disbanded before the 2004 elections?   If they had disbanded the group at the end of the 2003 when they were convinced Iraq had no WMDs and did not have them before the war, the political fall-out would have been large, giving Kerry a very large bludgeon to remind the American people that we went to war based on weak intelligence.  

    Was it ever the goal of the Bush administration to make us safer?  Or did they use a terrorist attack to undermine the foundations of our democracy?  The answer is far too clear.

    I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute. - John F. Kennedy

    by DWG on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 06:36:16 AM PST

  •  History will note (7+ / 0-)

    and long remember, I hope, what the Bush administration has done.  Because this is a massive failure the likes of which America has rarely seen.

    But, admittedly I am a conspiracy person (bush made me that way) and I am not sure that everything that has happened has not been mostly deliberate.

    Every single person put in charge of the various agencies and companies that make contracts with these agencies are rich men.  The failure of the war in Iraq, and the destruction of agencies like the CIA and FBI is of little note to bushies.  They have made big, big bucks in Iraq and hope and still plan to make big bucks in Iran.

    They are transfering all money they can rob out of America's pockets for war and false flag financial gimmicks to create the ultra rich, and soak the poor schmoes.

    The failure of the intelligence in Iraq proves just how little these people really care about doing a job.  They have just about drown American ideals in the proverbial bathtub, haven't they?

    Do you think for a minute they are displeased?

    Thanks for the excellent diary and the others that are getting this information out to the public.  The republicans are counting on the bought and paid for media to not out them too much.  Report it for a day, then let it drop.  Let's see how much reporting they continue to do.  And great writers that we have I hope will keep spotlighting it.

    /end of rant

  •  Ken, many thanks again.... an excellent job! n/t (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, Byrnt, moosely2006
  •  Who thinks Iran will Nuke someone? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    moosely2006, breezeview

    I don't.
    Do any of you?
    Seems to be a good question of this community right now.

    •  Bullies (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      leftyguitarist

      always pick on someone they think they can beat. Never on someone of equal or greater strength.

      Iran isn't going to nuke anybody.  

      Anyone know how long it has been since Iran has attacked anyone, aside from simple self defense? I suspect you'd be looking at hundreds of years. Maybe much longer, back to Darius' time.

      "Peace is more distant than might be thought." - Subcommandante Marcos.

      by walkshills on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 01:19:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't know how many times (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    leftyguitarist

    I've seen references to the

    universal sympathy for the US immediately after 9/11

    I don't know how long, or to what end, we could have milked the superpower as victim paradigm(sp?).

    Also, although there appears to be an over-representation of that attitude on this board, the way I remember it, most people were exihibiting a different emotion, namely seething anger.

    The failures of the intelligence community are legion, but we finally have a report from them we can put our full trust behind, because it agrees with our opinion.  Now where have we seen that before, Anyone? Anyone?

    Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them - T Paine

    by breezeview on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 07:40:10 AM PST

    •  On 9-11 I was in the middle of Lithuania (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      teacherken, moosely2006

      & split the next 5 days between there, Sweden & Iceland (the last involuntarily, waiting for US airspace to reopen & then a seat on the Keflavik-BWI flight). My experience is anecdotal, but when the Swedes are falling all over themselves to help you out & offer you sympathy because you are an American...when even the girl behind the deli counter in Reykjavik asks you if you're American for no better reason than to say We are all so sorry!...

      IMO a large part of the outpouring of sympathy--beyond the simple horror at people losing their lives in frightful fashion for no other reason than where they happened to work--was a sense that we had finally learned  we were no safer than the rest of the world & that we would see we needed to work with them to stop the madness, "first among equals" perhaps but still "among equals." And one of the reasons world opinion turned on us so rapidly & drastically was that the criminals who'd stolen the White House made it clear almost immediately that if anything the US would act even more arrogantly, more unilaterally, more disdainfully toward the rest of the world--that "we" would throw our ideals, our freedoms, & anyone who didn't happen to be American under the bus to get what we wanted.

      The world thought 9-11 had taught us the virtues of modesty and humility & then discovered that it had only ripped the mask off the bully skulking behind the bully pulpit.

      May I bow to Necessity not/ To her hirelings (W. S. Merwin)

      by Uncle Cosmo on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 10:30:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  grammar problem (0+ / 0-)

    ...which of course demonstrated that the previous NIE in 2005[,] which warned about the Iranian determination to get a nuclear bomb despite that country having stopped its weapons program is 2003[,] [was wrong(?)]

    I believe there is something missing from the above sentence ("the release of the NIE on Iran by Admiral McConnell... demonstrated that... [what?]").

  •  How did this diary wind up with (0+ / 0-)

    two separate URLs?

  •  You want Democrats to attack them on security? (4+ / 0-)

    Hit the Repubs on their (putative) strength?

    Why, Ken, that's positively Rovian of you!

    The Next Agenda "For Progressive Canadian Politics"

    by Bionic on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 08:57:42 AM PST

    •  remember "putative" is not necessarily REAL (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bionic, docangel, moosely2006, whytwolf

      and Rove did not invent the approach - the media, and far too many Dems, give Rove far more credit than he deserves.

      Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH! If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy

      by teacherken on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 08:59:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's why I put it in (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        moosely2006, whytwolf

        I'd think it's obvious that the Repubs' strength is not security.

        Personally, I think Rove was pretty clever in datamining to derive every possible vote in each riding.  I recall many articles about and wrote a diary about his microtargeting after '06 elections.  

        My point was it's very good to be able to slide dog whistles into messages that say "they think I'm saying this, but you know I really mean that" and get people to vote for you, but you gotta deliver or else you'll lose those voters the next time around.

        Which is what happened in '06 and looks even worse in '08.

        The Next Agenda "For Progressive Canadian Politics"

        by Bionic on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 09:26:30 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  More Evidence... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, docangel, moosely2006

    that BushCo "fit the intelligence around the policy" as the Downing Street MInutes revealed.  Richard Clark points this out too in his book.  Bush and Company were hell bent on blaming 9/11 on Iraq despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.  The neocons were salivating to secure Iraq's oil and to shock and awe yet another country into submission to enrich their coporate buddies long before 9/11.  Even as more people come forward to expose the truth, our spineless representatives in congress could care less.  Unless these neocon vulture capitalists are exposed and held accountable, I fear a bleak future for America and for the world.

    Great diary, teacherken.

    "Extreme violence has a way of preventing us from seeing the interests it serves." Naomi Klein

    by rlharry on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 09:18:59 AM PST

  •  Valerie Plame- the CIA- and the Unitary Executive (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, docangel, moosely2006

    Keller describes the results of that pressure -  case officers with no expertise in WMD being sent to Iraq merely to have warm bodies there, despite the long training it takes to become competent in the subject matter.  Here I might note, although Keller does not, that this overlaps with the exposure of Valerie Plame, who was an expert in WMD, and the entire network with which she was involved through the front company of Brewster Jennings.  

    Thank you for recalling that Valerie Plame was not just the wife of former-Ambassador Joseph Wilson who everyone knew worked at the office of the CIA as so many of her detractors wish to categorize her but, rather, a valuable covert asset whose field of expertise was the utmost security issue for the U.S. - WMDs and capability to deliver them in both Iraq and Iran.

    The destruction of her cover, although it took place several months after the invasion of Iraq, facilitated the invasion based on unsubstantiated evidence, allowed for a years-long verbal war with Iran, and served as a warning to others who might "cross" the Administration over fabricated evidence.

    The CIA has been used by the Executive Branch to fabricate "evidence" to lie to Congress about threats to the security of the U.S and coerce our representatives into authorizing and funding the greatest foreign policy debacle in modern times. It doesn't seem to function as an intelligence gathering entity any longer.

    Everytime Bush gets caught for "spin" he points at the CIA.

    Ultimately all this is being done in the name of the American people- the invasion, the torture, the counted and uncounted dead, the human rights abuses, the "gun-slinging" contractors, the rape of a nation's natural resources, illegal rendition and imprisonment, threatening nuclear strikes without provocation, and oceans of money lost and unaccounted for.  

  •  A union brother of mine who died recently (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, BigBite, moosely2006

    Mike Boisclair, had a framed sign hanging inside his grip truck that said:

    Good, fast, cheap: pick two.

    I've been watching this country pick fast and cheap for decades now, and I was wondering what awful disaster it would lead us to when those choices reached the top echelons of our government.

    Now I know.

    Now, could we all vote for fast and good, please?

  •  Without Punishing Our Own "Evil Doers" We Can't (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken

    put the Constitution back together again.  Even if we pass laws to make what Bush and Cheney did, illegal in the future, once one president does these things and gets away with it, as past experience shows, then future Presidents have a bigger opportunity to push the rules and break them with no consequences.

    Without prosecutions, jail times and impeachment.  We basically lose our country to "elected" law breakers.

    Excellent diary.  Thanks for noting these articles.

  •  Good diary, but... (0+ / 0-)

    I doubt that many in Iran consider working for the CIA, considering the CIA's past history in their own country--never mind Iraq. The mullahs are in power now in large part because the CIA (with help from the friendly oil corps) put in place and propped up the Shah as a replacement for a democratically elected but left-leaning prime minister. They did this knowing that the Shah was corrupt and hated.
    We certainly haven't done ourselves any favours since then though.

    "America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between." -- Oscar Wilde

    by expatyank on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 01:14:45 PM PST

  •  Teacherken wants MY thoughts? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken

    "I can do the job quickly or well, but not both" also means:

    Unless I wade throught an entire "essay form" of diary, I don't know what it says or means unless I'm very lucky.

    However, if the diarist puts a quick 'abstract' at the top -- and especially if the diarist is as reliable a source as Teacherken -- then:  BINGO!

    Thanks.
    I'm so dim, sleepy, and distracted at the moment...ever little bit helps.

    "You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus." --Mark Twain

    by LNK on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 01:48:56 PM PST

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