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April 1, 2005

'Dead Wrong' and Probably Not for the Last Time


by Joshua Frank

The presidential Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction released its findings [.pdf] on March 31, and the jury is no longer undecided. The intelligence community was "dead wrong" in almost all of its pre-war claims leading up to the Iraq invasion.

Many of the failures that the U.S. encountered when selling the war on Iraq "are still too common," says the report. The U.S. government still knows "disturbingly little" about global weapons threats, "and even less about the intentions of many of our most dangerous adversaries."

Certainly, the report indicates that the Bush administration has absolutely no credibility when they talk about the threats posed by Iran and North Korea. Unfortunately, all the intel regarding suspected weapons programs remain classified and were not released to the public.

The war in Afghanistan, claims the report, has revealed that al-Qaeda's biological weapons program may be further along than previously suggested. But was such information worth the death and destruction that resulted in its gathering? Not likely. If anything, the failure in apprehending bin Laden, despite destroying a government (if it really is destroyed) and killing thousands of civilians along the way, shows that al-Qaeda is much more elusive than the Bushites and their Democratic allies initially anticipated. This isn't news.

The report, although substantiating many of the claims the antiwar movement was making two years ago, fails to point fingers at specific individuals. That's what happens with the government polices itself. The fact is, U.S. intelligence failures are systemic. U.S. spies blew it big time, for the information they gathered prior to the Iraq war was "either worthless or misleading." The report also stressed that those who analyzed the data were not skeptical enough. No kidding? Glad we have finally cleared that up.

Perhaps the most notable portion of the document, which will soon be filed into the over-packed cabinets of bureaucratic waste, states that the intelligence community lacks any kind of expertise regarding Islamic extremism. Essentially, the U.S. government doesn't know its ass from a hole in the ground. Yet Bush still wants us to believe he is winning the War on Terror?

Of course, it hasn't fazed the Republican good ol' boys. G.W. has just continued to levy blame at the intelligence community while protecting his own administration from the hazing. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in a written statement following the release of the report averred, "I have asked that DoD officials responsible for intelligence activities review the report with care, undertake a systematic review of the commission's recommendations, and make suggestions to me for improvements." I've got a suggestion: Fire his ass.

The failures leading up to the Iraq war were not simply glitches in U.S. intelligence they were catastrophic errors that cost the lives of tens of thousands of people. I'd like to hear G.W. tell an Iraqi mother who lost her child to a U.S. bombing raid that the U.S. intelligence leading up to the war was "dead wrong."

I wonder how that would go over.

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  • Joshua Frank is the author of Left Out!: How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, just published by Common Courage Press. You can order a copy at a discounted through Josh's blog at www.brickburner.org. He can be reached at brickburner@gmail.com.

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