Tuesday, February 03, 2004
From Slate in October 2002: The Rumsfeld Intelligence Agency - How the hawks plan to find a Saddam/al-Qaida connection. By Fred Kaplan|
You've got to hand it to Donald Rumsfeld and his E-Ring crew at the Pentagon. They know all the stratagems of bureaucratic politics, and they play the game well. In their latest maneuver, reported on the front page of last Thursday's New York Times, the secretary of defense has formed his own "four- to five-man intelligence team" to sift through raw data coming out of Iraq in search of evidence linking Saddam Hussein to al-Qaida terrorists.The only intelligence failure was the intelligence of anyone who voted for Bush.
Rumsfeld has publicly continued to push this link as a prime—or at least the most easily sellable—rationale for going to war with Iraq, even after the CIA and the Pentagon's own Defense Intelligence Agency have dismissed the connection as tenuous at best. But Rumsfeld contends that the spy bureaucracies may have missed something. As his top team member, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz, put it to the Times, there is "a phenomenon in intelligence work that people who are pursuing a certain hypothesis will see certain facts that others won't, and not see other facts that others will." Since Wolfowitz is one of Washington's most forceful advocates of a second Gulf War, we can safely predict that he will find the facts he needs to make his case.
It is an old story that bears the same lesson each time a new chapter unfolds: Intelligence analysis should be kept out of the hands of those who have a vested interest in the results.