Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A Clear Lack of Intelligence

In his most recent editorial, Mark Hyman begins a series of commentaries on the lack of human intelligence. Whatever one might say about Hyman, you must admit the man has credentials when it comes to the topic of lack of intelligence.

Hyman notes that U.S. failures in the area of spying and related activities outnumber successes, failures which range “From the collapse of the Soviet Union to India's nuclear testing to Russia's offensive against Chechnya to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, just to name a few.”

Yes, just to name a few. The elephant in the room Hyman is trying to ignore
is the one that’s led to the deaths of nearly 2,000 soldiers, the wounding of ten times that number, and the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi citizens. Other than a tangential mention of “Baghdad,” Hyman remains mum about the intelligence failure that led to ongoing war in Iraq.

But actually Hyman might have a point, here. After all, it wasn’t really an intelligence failure that led to the war in Iraq; it was
a failure of character on the part of the president. Hyman attempts a cutesy dig at Joseph Wilson (“[Spying] is not the job for those French-cuff wearing bureaucrats who drink sweet mint tea and shop for souvenirs”), but ignore the fact that Wilson’s report was right—there was no conclusive evidence Iraq sought to by uranium from Niger. Moreover, weapons inspectors on the ground and many members of the intelligence community were telling anyone who would listen that there were no WMDs in Iraq.

But the Bush administration refused to listen and made a bogus case for war. And to punish Wilson for having the temerity to mention facts that didn’t square with the administration’s desires, they exposed his wife’s identity.

As if that weren’t petty enough, the administration and its flacks went after Richard Clarke, the coordinator for counterterrorism in the National Security Council, when he pointed out that the Bush administration had little to no interest in terrorism, despite the fact that they had been warned about Osama bin Laden specifically by members of the outgoing Clinton administration.

Why would we expect our intelligence services to attract promising recruits when the Bush administration has proven that it A) doesn’t much care about intelligence when it contradicts with what it wants, and B) has no hesitation to expose its agents to danger and slander them to cover its collective hindquarters?

And it doesn’t stop there.
Insiders note that even since 9/11, the Bush administration has done precious little to bolster the intelligence services. And most of our intelligence operatives are booked up handling the quagmire in Iraq instead of dealing with global terror.

Lastly, the best intelligence system in the world won’t help if the president refuses to be bothered by details. Hyman invokes 9/11 as proof of the high price we pay for poor intelligence. But as we now know, the president was told a month before September 11 that bin Laden was determined to attack the U.S. and did nothing about it, and he also was aware that Islamic terrorists might try to use airplanes as weapons of terror.

Yes, there’s much that needs to be done to improve our clandestine services, but when it comes to a lack of human intelligence, the most cavernous void is in the Oval Office.

And that’s The Counterpoint.

Hyman Index: 2.55


At 10:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah yes Ted, a lack of human intelligence is indeed very evident at the White House and at Sinclair. The really interesting thing about the biggest intelligence debacle of all time, that Hyman fails to mention, and the proof that Bush lied and fixed the intelligence around the policy, is that even after this alleged monumental failure of our intelligence service, George Tenet, the head of that same service was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his part in helping to hoodwink Congress, the American people and the rest of the world.

Some of us were not fooled.

Thanks Ted, and keep bustin' Hyman.
Mike B. in SC


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