INTELLIGENCE FAILURE….So it appears the CIA is now going to get the blame for screwing up the prewar intelligence and convincing everyone that Iraq had WMD. Just as they got the blame two years ago for refusing to acknowledge the obvious fact that of course Iraq had WMD.
Brad DeLong shows us an unusually egregious example of this two-faced approach today by laying out a Jim Hoagland column from 2002 (Langley has obdurately refused to get on the WMD train) next to a 2004 column (Langley pushed us into war by panicking over WMD). It’s a work of art.
But here’s the most puzzling thing about the forthcoming release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s indictment of the CIA: chairman Pat Roberts says that “intelligence agencies did not rely enough on ‘human intelligence’ gathering after 1998,” and this is what caused most of our problems.
But surely this misses a very large elephant in the room? It’s not that we failed to rely on human intelligence, it’s that we relied on the wrong human intelligence. Namely, Ahmed Chalabi’s human intelligence.
As Bob Drogin and others have reported, Chalabi and the INC methodically delivered Iraqi exiles to the CIA and other intelligence services around the world over the course of many years, all of them apparently coached to provide similar (and false) information about the extent of Saddam’s WMD information. This explains the “worldwide” intelligence failure that Roberts talks about.
Granted, it’s the job of the CIA to decide if these exiles are worth paying attention to, but the fact remains that they were the victims of an extensive and sophisticated disinformation campaign that was backed by a very powerful coterie of hawks within the administration, including the vice president and the Secretary of Defense. To ignore this is to make a mockery of the investigation.
So here’s the nut: when the Senate report finally comes out, count the number of times “Chalabi” or “INC” are mentioned ? along with their backers in the Bush administration. If it’s less than several dozen, it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on.