Intelligence Gathering


Two stories about intelligence reports from the CIA and the war in Iraq. In the first one, on WMDs, the CIA got the story wrong because they fit the facts into their own preconceived narrative rather than trying to understand Iraqi behavior in its own terms:

In other words, the CIA was right to identify evidence of deception, but wrong in its analysis of why Iraq was being deceptive: not to hide WMDs, but to protect its own sovereignty and to provide ambiguous signals to its principal threats (Iran and Israel).

In the second one, on 9-11, the CIA got it right, but the neocons refused to believe the warnings because it didn’t fit with their own preconceived narrative:

the neoconservative leaders who had recently assumed power at the Pentagon were warning the White House that the C.I.A. had been fooled; according to this theory, Bin Laden was merely pretending to be planning an attack to distract the administration from Saddam Hussein, whom the neoconservatives saw as a greater threat. Intelligence officials, these sources said, protested that the idea of Bin Laden, an Islamic fundamentalist, conspiring with Mr. Hussein, an Iraqi secularist, was ridiculous, but the neoconservatives’ suspicions were nevertheless carrying the day.

In response, the C.I.A. prepared an analysis that all but pleaded with the White House to accept that the danger from Bin Laden was real.

If you expect our government (CIA, neocons… or Obama) to learn from their mistakes, you haven’t been paying attention. And a very good argument against having something like a kill list”…