Jump to navigation
June 28, 2007
IC contactors out of control.
June 22, 2007
Just the tip, my friends. This is gonna be one ugly mess when that rock gets kicked over. To be fair, TSA and HLS were problematic. No one competent wanted to work there.
The Stiftung and others lost the legislative fight to give HLS a meaningful, internal and independent intellegence analysis with limited collection capabilities. The rice bowls too sacred to move. Intelligence at HLS was a bureaucratic Chernobyl. So in HLS' case, one can argue that they were so screwed and no one wanted to be bureaucratic castrato, some contracting was inevitable.
We even said so at the time. But that does not excuse this kind of behavior. Which is merely Peoples' Exhibit A.
n fact, the entire HLS Dept. is a Titanic, of qualified people leaving after short stays or refusing to come on, etc. Another Joementum special. We hae known legions of senior people who left in despair of anything productive ever happening even before Katrina. Hijacked by Rove and Card after polling and they used it to crush the Dems in Fall 2002. And the rest is history. It's a farce. It's worse than a farce, it is criminal.
This Booz contact is bad. There are so many, many others. The incomprehensible scale of wasteful, stupid, possibly illegal if not illegitimate contracting that has gone one makes profligate Rome look like Calvin's Geneva. (Apologies to Salon for invoking Rome again). Trillions of dollars coursing through the veins of the Imperial City. Very little or no reliable, professional supervision. And people wonder at all these farcically huge and undeniably tacky McMansions popping up like body lice all over the Imperial City? All the shiny new Lexus and SUVs? Together with the regulatory and lobbyist contingent, they don't even bother hiding it.
Rookies when they go up to the Hill always forget that the two most important things to a member, particularly in the House, are (a) money; and (b) jurisdiction (especially for chair
person). The intern screwing and all that gets tossed in the back along with constituent service. So it is true Tom Davis, that you had jurisdictional struggles to deal with and your NRCC tricky burden to pull off, but I like and liked you, even raised many thousands of dollars for you. But you and the Committee took a dive on the Nation for a felonious pest control salesman, a maleable wrestling coach and a libertarian-leaning 3rd rate economics professor — all whom thought you were a Bolshevik anyways.
Sadly, I think the regime's thefts will go unpunished. Another sign of terminal dogma.
, Tom Davis
June 21, 2007
e're conflicted about writing about Jim Schlesinger's “Family Jewels” (they were never “Colby's”, he merely inhereted them and selectively leaked them to the public (and the Glomar story to Hersh) to save the Agency from being burned to the ground).
Or as James Jesus et al. maintained ipso facto proof that Colby was the mole. Now presumably Bobby DeNiro winks this way after some vino having been “made”. But then JJA and De Niro never addressed JJA and Golitsyn's other banalities that the Sino-Soviet tensions were a ruse (even after the Sovs asked if we would join them in nuking the Chinese sites). Funny, 7 years of Neocons and they actually made JJA and Golitsyn retroactively rehabilitated re Beijing and Moscow axis today. Wonders never cease.
First, there's not a whole lot in there that isn't already fairly widely known in general terms already. Some minor bit historical actors like “Felix Rodriguez” can show off Che's Rolex again, and relieve old stories, etc. All done before the Hughes-Ryan and 1980 Intelligence Oversight Acts. Second, from them during the 1974-2000 time period one is not likely to find anything nearly the equivalent of current unsanctioned activity (hence the mining in 1983, Ollie, Secord, Boland, Iran Contra, etc. — they couldn't get away with it in the framework). Casey, the Wall Steet lawyer had to operationalize the NSC to do it. His protoge, Addington, more successfully operationalized the EOVP.
Now, of course, who knows. The militarization of the Nation escapes capacity to imagine, and 70% of the Community are now contractors — so God help us all. Of course, the Founders never anticipated a Republic determined to commit seppuku to the tune of a Fox News Alert and Laurie Dhue's lips. I saw Victoria Toensing show tendancies of extremism in the early 1980s, but you have to remember that during the Reagan transition team Angelo and alot of more serious people wanted to abolish the Agency altogether and start over, fearing it had been tainted by moles, bureaucratese, kowtowing to Congress, etc. No one, at that time, however, could have conceived that the entire congressional branch would willingly castrate themselves politically and become a mere Congress of Peoples' Deputies under a dumber Putin from Texas, but there you go.
hich brings us to Count Metternich and the death of the Russian Ambassador. In the middle of the night, a servant woke Count Metternich to inform him that the Russian Ambassador just passed away. To which Metternich replied, “I wonder what his motive was . . .”
Coming clean with stale stuff already “known” for 40 years is a terrific PR flare off the back of an Agency with a morale problem. GULAGS, torture, international criminal liability, Italian courts, this wasn't the script. Cofer Black was gonna stride into an Oval Office carefully covered in painter's taupe and show the Warlord that famous head on stick. By mid 2007, the 3rd Infantry Division was supposed to be coming ashore at gaza linking up with the IDF. Re-write time. About as bad as Heaven's Gate.
Congress, the media, the NGOs, everyone gets distracted. I thought Tweety was jumping on his chair so enthusiastically something uncomfortable was about to happen. It eats up the summer media. Perfect beach reading. This act of “good faith” also introduces the means to slowly open the desk drawer to 2001-2006. Not only do we know that Goss launched at least one major covert action without telling anyone on the Hill (acknowledged and terminated by current DNI) but there is the open secret that no one is really auditing and/or supervizing the the contract force. And moreover, from an institutional memory point of view, your memory leaves when your contrator quits or is fired. Intelligence agencies above all things, particularly from the CI and other disciplines, are in the memory business
It will be seen where the ripples from this pebble in a lake go. Re Cheney/Addington, re Executive Branch overall, re-igniting in Congress a raison d'etre for their being oversight at all. The damage of the last 7 years is so vast, who would have imagined it. And who really among our political class cares enough to take a stand rather than exploit current tactical situations?
No great defeat in a 4 year Total War. No millions of casualties. No empire torn assunder (yet), wheelbarrows are not filled with bills to buy bread, Chinese credit still flows smoothly, and yet so much sub rosa radicalization in open sight.
Tags: Family Jewels
, Big Whoop
May 03, 2007
Finally. (And allegedly). Mike's got a decent piece in FA here
Get used to axes coming out. It's gonna get ugly. The Nation has not a clue how expensive the Force Replenishment will be for what we have thrown away in Iraq; next generation procurement scissors crisis is going to be even more World Historical brutal. Our salvation? Richard Haas maybe will assign Max Boot or Peter Beinart to think our way out of it for us all.
Tags: Misty Satellites
April 27, 2007
s our friend Comment observed, there is profound karmic destiny in Tenet launching his comeback tour with the pithy detail and specificity of encountering Richard Perle at the White House the day after 9/11. As you likely know, Tenet quotes Perle saying “Iraq must pay for yesterday.” Except, of course, Perle was outside the country for several days around 9/11. Choke.
riends and long time readers know we spare nothing in criticizing Neocons these days. We do, however, also believe that they helped save Western Civilization against the Soviets during the Cold War. We recall being in Richard's Pentagon office not long after the Sovs shot Major Nicholson in East Germany on an official NATO inspection and left him to bleed to death
. (Notice the deft shift to just “Richard” during this part - an old and cheap Imperial City cocktail party stand by). Richard declared simply that we needed to find a Soviet colonel
in Angola and drop him. It wasn't just bravura. He, like everyone, was outraged. But the colonel thing? Simply business. The “Chicago Way” as Sean Connery said in another context.
The Soviets understood and respected Richard and those who fought the Cold War to win. We say that because we heard it from their lips. At the time. Not via
the pages of The Nation or National Review. Responding in a nuclear environment should never be reckless or even an immediate action — especially when error and mistake can be as much an explanation as deliberate provocation. Yet, the Sovs could smell weakness faster than a DEA dog on a yayo
packed Teddy Bear.
In 1987 for the INF Treaty signing, the Sovs who wanted to line up for Perle's autograph? Multitudes. Those that gave a damn about Paul Warnke? Not so much. (We now shift back to the mere “Perle” ).
A shame the Neocons did not retire after 1991. For the world even more than just for us here in the States. The Realm, too, would have been better off. To be fair, mendacity aside, Richard (fooled you!) is a far more interesting and funny person than say Ivo Daalder or the other mediocrities waiting in the wings. Too bad about all that sulfur. But it is there . . .
P.S. If you haven't, please introduce yourself to Mephisto, above.
April 12, 2007
ow to justify a $4 million advance for a political patsy? His publishers must have gambled they get some hot buzz.
If the “hot” leak from Tenet's book is that there was no formal policy debate within the Administration outside the Neocon network, yawn. Known. Been there, done that.
A congressional staffer's instinct is to fluff the principal. Tenet the former staffer pursued his instincts with gusto. When his moment of decision came, he lacked the compass and spine to stand up for integrity and the Agency unlike Helms did with Nixon. Tenet and the “Magician” McLaughlin are complicit in their failures of nerve. And the wreckage they unleashed on CIA and the Community in the aftermath.
Read more »
April 04, 2007
o it's not exactly Elba to Waterloo and back
. But it is encouraging. DNI McConnell is actually attempting to be serious about Community management
. It's no surprise McConnell adopted a political-romantic meme
to impart a sense of energy, crisis and momentum to the fractious Community. As the WaPo
Read more »
March 15, 2007
e resisted seeing “Good Sheppard” when it came out for many reasons. Please pardon us for coming to this party over late.
Two reasons we held back? First, we doubted writer Eric Roth and DeNiro would treat the subject matter with historical responsibility. Second, the idea of sitting through 3 hours of self-congratulatory name dropping? Too daunting. Both fears were justified.
James Jesus Is Not Here
att Damon's Edward Wilson, the protagonist, is based on the life template of James Jesus Angleton. Angleton was the half-Mexican head of the Counterintelligence Staff until fired by William Colby in the mid 1970s. Angleton's life and career do deserve serious treatment and discussion. They are not here.
Read more »
March 10, 2007
t walks like a duck and quacks like a duck. When is it really a kangaroo?
If you've ever seen a counterintelligence case used to promote a wider political and policy agenda, it's a familiar question. We ask today watching the continuing jousting over the Chinese threat. Not surprisingly, the DNI's overlay of bureaucracy does not alter the Community's underlying fractious institutional genetics.
e start at the beginning.
Read more »
March 09, 2007
ack Balkin notes that the Administration again buries the FBI abuse story by dumping it on a Friday
Oddly for this blog, we are going to argue that the Administration for once really is not completely to blame for this situation. Beginning with the Clipper Chip push by the NSA under Bush
the Elder, the permanent National Security State Id
argued that digital technologies mandated a greater encroachment on the 4th Amendment. Now it's terrorism. Words change. The goal remains the same; escape from accountability and rule of law.
uring the Clinton Administration, National Security State Id careerists drafted and circulated several legislative proposals. These drafts evolved and in many ways became the template for the Patriot Act resubmitted immediately after 9/11.
o you recall those those days? Remember the black helicopter paranoia? Ruby Ridge, Waco and then Elian Gonzales? Vince Foster being moved around secret love nests? Janet Reno and memes of an out of control DoJ? Well, as crazy as that stuff was, it made it easier to defend the Constitution. 4th Amendment concerns united libertarians, the wingnuts, mainstream conservatives and Democrats.
Read more »
March 06, 2007
lapper as a replacement for Cambone may indeed be good news for the Community overall and the Agency
in particular. Gates actually appears to be acting on his declarations that he would reverse Rumsfeld's intelligence-related distortions
. Clapper and Gates will be sitting on over $30 billion out of the $42 billion Community budget.
ust be prepared to hear alot more what Spider Marks
asserts in the link above. First, operational/tactical battlefield commanders and their intelligence officers like Marks will always want more. Second, Marks has a special chip on this shoulder. He was about the only biped in the United States who actually took on the mission of really trying to identify and locate the WMDs before and during the war as an intelligence officer for OIF. No one else in OSD or CENTCOM could give a damn before March 2003. Even now, after the fact, poor Spider forgets about “the lie” part in Noble Lie. So he's naturally going to be gun shy, as they say.
On the other hand, Marks is really talking apples and strawberries; Rumsfeld and Cambone were not really interested in the pure battlefield tactical intelligence situation. OSD and DoD have always had that mission. And the oversight for that was already under the respective armed services committees on the Hill since 1980. They were much more interested in strategic, operational and covert action capabilities. Much of the current and future struggles will be over tasking and control of the overhead stuff. It helps that Clapper comes from there (Air Force and National Geospatial Agency) and Gates comes from where he does.
How weird to find oneself agreeing with Pete Hoekstra. Although keep in mind HPSCI is on the receiving end of potential oversight jurisdiction. So Hoekstra wanting to see this happen with no fuss, no muss is natural. So is Duncan Hunter's opposition from Armed Services. (Remember Hunter's stand against the original DNI legislation as proxy for Rumsfeld?) Although it is perhaps symptomatic that in the initial link above the reporters are still trained to call Hoekstra and Hunter for comment even though they are no longer chairs but in the minority.
It's telling. To use the Dowd bon mot
in another context, journalists embody tropism to power. The stupidity of agreeing to a debate on Fox. Sometimes we wonder if the Democrats have a suicide wish. But we digress.
In the six years since 9/11, the military intelligence community has developed a sense of bureaucratic ownership,“ said Matthew Aid, an intelligence historian. ”They spent a lot of money developing their own sources and capabilities. There will be a great deal of opposition to giving the CIA these resources.
hat's for sure. Along with an entire eco-system of private contractors and ancillary parasites dependent on the continued cash flow. Knocking over the initial ricebowls by Rumsfeld and Cambone upset enough people. The money flowing since then makes adjusting the new rice bowls even more sensitive.
Clapper gets kudos for his prior DIA service in the 1990s and his willingness to stand up to Rumsfeld and support the DNI legislation when he headed up the National Geospatial Agency (nee Defense Mapping Agency). The fact that Rumsfeld retaliated and forced Clapper out makes Clapper even more incented to support a restoration post-Rumsfeld as Cambone's replacement.
Watch this space, as they say.
March 02, 2007
e defer to the professional and semi-pro Scooterologists to Tell What It All Means. We can only share with you, Dear Reader, what our take away is. And ours is a decidedly idiosyncratic view.
First things first. Here's the obligatory reference to Cheney lurking behind it all. There. Done. Let's move on.
cooter's verdict today is the latest salvo in the duel between the Agency and EOVP. And begging Pat's pardon, it remains a Mexican standoff. Earlier we wrote on this in greater detail, referring to it as a Passchendale On The Potomac (a long post)
Today we're using a nautical theme. Largely because we were reading some of the original Japanese texts that Evan Thomas uses without footnoting for his tedious retelling avec
21st century psychobabble of the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
he sad truth is that much of the progressive and liberal blogosphere is and was wrong about the old Agency. They are peddling Kool Aid the same as the Administration's flacks, just of another flavor.
The Agency had become a leaky old battleship in need of renovation and drydock time. Reform indeed was urgently needed. The Community was broken. Tenet did abdicate Community management.
All that got lost in the Administration's ideological assault. To be sure, the Neocons and Cheney delivered more torpedo and bombs hits on it than the Musashi took in the Sibuyan Sea. The Agency's superstructure was blown away. The flag had to be raised elsewhere at the new DNI. Institutional damage and loss of prestige here and abroad remains significant and will outlast the Bush Administration as the Agency's reduction in status will be permanent. The new DNI apparat gets the crucial presidential face time. As a consolation, the DO gets to call itself the “National Clandestine Service”. Meh, as the kids say.
On the other hand, the Agency landed some hits itself. Cheney's seemingly impervious Wotan steel failed. Scooter's indictment tore out the EOVP's radar and gunnery support. No one can deny that Addington and Hannah are no equal replacement for Scooter. The trial also exposed the Cheney Admiral's bridge to direct enemy fire.
aking on a permanent bureaucracy like the Agency in a broadside at point blank range is always dicey. The permanent government sees Sun Kings come and go. Every Administration is brash and commanding coming in. Not infrequently they leave bowed and often indicted. For this reason, most Administrations are careful not to push matters too far. Costs and risks far outstripped any conceivable benefit.
But this regime was different. The Agency had never experienced an assault of this nature or magnitude before. As mentioned here elsewhere, the Agency is more or less a loyal dog eager to please its master (or client or customer). Presidential approval is the alpha and omega. One can agree or not agree with Edward Bennett Williams in 1980 when he told Casey “[t]he CIA is like a great dog that got hit by a car, you can only say it was a great dog until it got hit by the car.” (We happen to agree fwiw). But this regime was the first master in Agency history determined to destroy its approval-seeking dog while still demanding performance. Or at least its carcass as fall guy for the regime's recklessness. Such psychological cognitive dissonance destroyed Tenet's equillibrium in particular, given his genetic compulsion to seek approval and to get along. (A hallmark of a classic Hill staffer and not necessarily a bad thing in other times). But blame goes beyond him including McLaughlin and down the line. None of them rose to the Vernon Walters standard of resisting White House pressures.
Of course the Agency is a complex organization and elements within supported many parts of the Administration's policies and vision to various degrees. It is not accurate to say “the Agency stood up tp the Administration” and all the other black/white simplicities of the media and blogosphere. Yet the Bush regime's fury and related AgitProp fell on the entire organization like a tidal wave. If the Administration was frantically looking for scapegoats in 2003 for the WMD fiasco, the Agency was looking to deflect blame as well. The botched Goss/Foggo era was a God send to the Agency as it gave demoralized professionals a galvanizing rallying cry and gave the Agency a good guy/bad buy narrative easily understood and peddled by the media.
The permanent government bureaucracy played more than defense. Various leaks to the media about black sites, warnings from Baghdad, Chalabi's (deserved) travails, the referral to DoJ re Plame all show vigorous push back. Largely successful to boot, as we see in today's guilty verdict. True, compared to the institutional rubble in Virginia the taking down of one man seems a slight consolation. Even if that one shell hit tore the guts out of Cheney's fire control. Scooter's conviction is, however, just a down payment. The Agency and other elements in the abused Community will help shape the corporate memory of this time far beyond any Cheney memoirs written by Weekly Standard hack writer Stephen Hayes. This payback comes with an annuity plan.
e have mixed feelings about Scooterama and the denouement. Oh, not about Scooter or that stuff. It's just makes us queasy to see Tweety constantly inserting himself into the affair as if he himself was, as he put it, “under assault, under attack by the most powerful office in the land” yada yada yada. Scooter should get another guilty count for giving Tweety a further shove into delusional grandiosity. That's worth 5 years minimum, hard time.
And already we see a movie deal cut about Wilson. At least 3 if not 4 more books will come out about all this, too. Now it is certainly undeniable that Wilson, as our comments section here has noted, is ready made to piss off Neocons and Administration flacks. But he also makes us ill.
In Lord of the Rings Frodo goes back to the Shire at the end but can not find peace. The evil of the Ring can not be unmade. Some scars remain and will never be healed. Wilson will be our collective scar and burden to bear. Perhaps as a reminder of these grim times. Or perhaps another jest by the living universe, finding the laugh line in this whole sordid business.
, Scooter Libby
, Valerie Plame
February 09, 2007
ig Harrison must be cracking a wry smile about now. We've known him for over four decades. A prolific analyst and writer on foreign affairs, he lately has focused on North Korean and subcontinent issues. Sig has been invited several times to Pyongyang for meetings at the highest levels. Back in 2004 Sig argued that U.S. intelligence claims about North Korea and their alleged uranium enrichment program were wrong
. Recall the environment — Dan Senor briefings and orange threat warnings every other day. He might as well have predicted that the then marginal cleric Moqtada Al Sadr soon would be the most powerful man in Iraq.
For nearly five years, though, the Bush administration, based on intelligence estimates, has accused North Korea of also pursuing a secret, parallel path to a bomb, using enriched uranium. That accusation, first leveled in the fall of 2002, resulted in the rupture of an already tense relationship: The United States cut off oil supplies, and the North Koreans responded by throwing out international inspectors, building up their plutonium arsenal and, ultimately, producing that first plutonium bomb.
But now, American intelligence officials are publicly softening their position, admitting to doubts about how much progress the uranium enrichment program has actually made. The result has been new questions about the Bush administration’s decision to confront North Korea in 2002.
“The question now is whether we would be in the position of having to get the North Koreans to give up a sizable arsenal if this had been handled differently,” a senior administration official said this week.
The disclosure underscores broader questions about the ability of intelligence agencies to discern the precise status of foreign weapons programs. The original assessment about North Korea came during the same period that the administration was building its case about Iraq’s unconventional weapons programs, which turned out to be based on flawed intelligence. And the new North Korea assessment comes amid debate over intelligence about Iran’s weapons.
e always were persuaded by Sig. To see it confirmed more sad than anything. It's not just Cheney et al., either. That $30 billion plus? 0 for 2
in the clutch. The Administration turned the U.S. into something worse than a rogue power — a stupid one.
February 04, 2007
eme warfare is as much art as science. Finding the right hook for a meme is only the first step. Where and how to start the meme often is an alchemy all its own, critical to its propogation. Lining up secondary and tertiary piling on to a meme so as to present a sense of ubiquitous uproar can help launch a meme campaign. Finally, good meme-ball players monitor who attacks the meme to use as further ammunition.
simple declaration of facts rarely works. Now in 2007 a DoD Inspector General report declares Doug Feith's OSP engaged
in “inappropriate” but not “illegal or unauthorized” activities circumventing the Community during the run up. Let not forget that laughable classified OSP letter to SSCI that ended up as a feverish Weekly Standard Hayes special, “Cased Closed.”
Central to the clean bill of health re criminal activity is the IG's determination that Feith et al. did policy work. If he found that their activities were intelligence, then they would have broken the law by not reporting to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (“SSCI” ). Former Cheney advisor and now Feith successor Eric Edelman agrees with the IG unsurprisingly.
A Feith-based-meme is irretrievably crippled by its staleness. Much of the activity is now 4 or 5 years old. Widely accepted to be true by all but the most fanatical Kool Aiders. Feith is in obscurity. Staleness robs a meme of frission and impact unless it has a current hook — Kerry and his medals came alive with his nomination. It doesn't help floating memes when Levin bestows a flat, “I can't think of a more devastating commentary.”
Chambliss and Inhoffe at today's hearing know the political truth. The DoD IG report by itself is essentially an airball. No criminal activity. Nothing unauthorized. Feith is well positioned to say as he did that he has been “exonerated” — and then dismiss the other criticisms as “quibble”. Chambliss wisely knows the IG report allows him to say, tamping down any possible meme, “I'm trying to figure out why we are here,” adding that Feith et al. were doing their job scrutinizing intelligence that had been gathered by the Community. The IG report allows both (all?) sides to claim vindication.
ovement meme warfare is effective because usually the memes propel politics towards an ultimate policy or political goal. The energy and direction not only attracts interest. Meme-ball when played well also allows many voices to participate. The bogus Pelosi travel meme makes clear that familiarity with the actual facts at issue don't matter. Propelling the meme forward supporting the wider goal or policy is all that matters.
Let's concede Levin is old school. He doesn't think in meme-ball. That's actually a compliment. Others however can right ask, aren't there Democrats who are more skilled at contemporary meme-ball? This report could have been a highly visible platform to prepare conversations about larger or other timely issues. This is a perfect foundation to explore Edelman's activities (whether policy or “intelligence” ) regarding Iran. And outside of OUSDP Edelman's purview, what else is being done in Administration? Craig Unger's item on Iran and the Neocons reminds us all these are real and immediate questions for many.
, Doug Feith
January 13, 2007
awn. One supposes we are compelled to at least acknowledge the lastest NIE on Iraq
. Frankly, we're not interested very much. Not that there hasn't been some entertainment. Doubtlessly you saw Hadley's Leave-It-To-Beaver-Aw-Shucks effort to bob and weave away from this unhelpful bureaucratic stiletto:
The Intelligence Community judges that the term “civil war” does not adequately capture the complexity of the conflict in Iraq, which includes extensive Shia-on-Shia violence, al-Qa’ida and Sunni insurgent attacks on Coalition forces, and widespread criminally motivated violence. Nonetheless, the term “civil war” accurately describes key elements of the Iraqi conflict, including the hardening of ethno-sectarian identities, a sea change in the character of the violence, ethno-sectarian mobilization, and population displacements.
ppositionists naturally view this and other language in the public Executive Summary as a “victory”. A triumph in the domestic hyper-real meme war with the Adminsitration. 'There, you see? Uncle DNI calls it civil war too!' We've written before how both the Administration and its opponents often misunderstand intelligence, the intelligence product cycle and the relationship between policy makers and the intelligence community
You, Dear Reader, the Stiftung (and most sentient, non-Kool Aid-drinking bipeds plus Barney, now) agree with the NIE. A NIE remains what it is, and our agreement does not embue it (or any other, or even SNIE, (Special NIE)) with anything more. NIEs quite rightly seek to mimic judicial trappings, offering “findings” and “judgments”. And like a court, on matters of fact (assuming a Neocon/Chalabi contamination effort is not involved), the intelligence community deserves the most deference: the SS-18 has been tested deploying x number of MIRVs in conjunction with ZAPAD exercises; z regional population migrations are growing at a factor of w percent; Chinese military exercises conform with y doctine, Saddam has been importing x amount of aluminum tubes, etc.
Judgments and interpretation of those facts are due weight but are by definition less compelling. No matter how impressive it may seem to have the XYZ organizations sign off (even then, make sure to read footnotes — something so seemingly innocent looking are often bureaucratic Stalingrads, and a tool for DCIs and now DNIs to paper over dissent). Fingar's effort apparently was more accomodating.
A NIE's impact in an infotainment world increasingly often is in inverse proportion to how many people know anything it discusses. Why so non-plussed?
If the Community speaks with the most authority when it has unique facts and combines those facts with is alleged expertise, where does that leave Iraq? Isn't there something just a little bit comically pretentious about a government memo “judging” Iraq's more-than-civil-war war when the death spiral is shoved into our collective faces fricking 24 hours a day in real time? True, video and image can be misleading. But after 4 years, the world and American people have picked up the plot.
Nothing we see in this NIE's Executive Summary was not blindingly obvious to a non-Kool Aider public observer of the Iraqi scene anytime since Summer 2006. We are not being contrarian for it's own sake. It is useful to see the glaringly obvious confirmed. But we are long past 1967-1968. In 1967-68, fighting over a NIE regarding trends in the Southeast Asia unpleasantness was pivotal to define the issue for the National Command Authoriy and then via Scotty Reston, the NY Times, CBS News, etc. eventually Congress and the American people. Not so today.
The Iraq car wreck is globally transparent — we do not need to rely on the government to filter superior information flows for us. After all, even the Japanese are speaking out against the Administration's war
, which is fascinating in its own right. (The always provactive Adbusters calls them “Japan's Neocons” — which, while not accurate is still fun and worth checking out)
With blogs, cable satellites and video phones, the public, Congress and news organizations more often than not have equal or better overall information available than the Community. True, the instinctive reverance for anything marked “secret” or above still commands American deference. Especially after 6 years of AgitProp by this regime. And it is also true that on any given day or month, micro-factual information, usually of a tactical nature, remains almost exclusively a Community province. On the major strategic issues in the NIE, however, the cat is already out of the bag. This raises the whole “open source” paradigm but we'll save that for another day.
o where does that leave us? This NIE is essentially another meme arrow to deploy against the Bush regime. That's no small thing. And certainly Fingar did a better analytical job than the crapfest Tenet shopped around in October 2002. The NIE's conceptual organization may help Democrats by coaching them how to think through the issue and frame communications beyond sentiment (well founded) and instinct (right on target). Other than Webb, Reed and a few others, some Democrats may need to hide behind the NIE's authority to give them a gravitas that they instinctively know themselves is not felt by the American people — Kennedy is not alone here.
ppositionists embracing the Community and this NIE now (ncluding the Stiftung, btw) so uncritically because of the shared rejection of the regime's AgitProp should also check to make sure they are not quaffing their own Kool Aid. Intelligence does not set policy (with exception of Casey's tenure in some respects). The beauty of the American political system and the intelligence product cycle (when it works) is that elected officials are the ultimate arbiters, not GS-15s and supergrades.
For example, some blogging today many not remember that the Community at one time was sure (but not unanimous) that the worldwide communist effort was a unified bloc. A view shared outside by most informed people at CFR (when being there meant something), etc.
An isolated President and ego-centric national security advisor ignored the bureacuratic and Establishment paralysis and quasi-consensus. They set up secret meetings, flew to Beijing and played the Chinese off the Sovs. Thankfully. More latterly, a former DCI and NSC member, now lately in the news, and others in the Community insisted almost until December 25, 1991, that Gorbachev and Schevarnadze were secret hard liners and should be held at arm's length, etc. (And have been assiduously clouding the historical record ever since).
We take a back seat to no one over disdain for the Warlord, Cheney et al. Or their unrelenting assault on liberal democracy at home and the international order abroad. Their cynical and disasterous abuse of the Community for their own AgitProp purposes is undeniable
. They are, however, entitled to reject this or any other NIE. Or even send a draft NIE back to the Community on Iran.
Exercising this perogative results in disaster when the Nation is hostage to a unicameral Christian Socialist Authoritarian regime like 2001-2006. During that time the Community often felt it had no recourse other than to leak. Now, however, we have a functioning Congress again determined to be a co-equal branch of government. A Congress which we hope rejects the notion that oversight is itself a special access program subject to Executive whim. Perhaps what is left of the old Community — before the recent purges and new levee en masse dilutions — has learned a hard lesson compared to 1975-1983. The only thing worse than congressional oversight is no functional congressional oversight at all. When the Administration rejects this or other NIE the issue of the moment should be resolved in politcal fora, where it belongs — albeit likely in closed session. We happily agree with this NIE. But no Community should determine national policy.
Not now, not then, and not in the future.
, National Intelligence Estimate
ne need not be a 'structuralist' to be familiar with Freud's famous delineation of the divisions of the psyche, into Ego, Id and SuperEgo. The Id in his formulation contains those things repressed or ignored by the waking and conscious Ego.
The American National Security State represented by the coital embrace of permanent government and quasi-socialized, semi-private enterprise is a dark part of the American Id. Yet even under the Warlord's reign of error, fear and incompetence it rarely gets much sustained scrutiny.
Specific and sensationalized matters such as the unconstitutional and unlawful NSA surveillance activities get some spotlight attention. The abolition of habeus corpus made copy for a few news cycles; it might even have received a Keith Olberman comment. And the President casually asserts he can open mail for security reasons, something even LBJ would not have dreamed of doing so brazenly
Under a normally functioning constitutional government with working checks and balances and separation of powers (those are two fundementally different concepts, although related), the National Security Id is held somewhat in check. Under the unified Christian Socialist Authoritarian government from 2001-2006, the American National Security State Id was unshackled and encouraged to follow its darkest impulses.
The full scale of what this rough beast has done may never be known. Not just because of congressional timidity. Or even White House belligerance. But simply that the delegation of permissiveness went so far into the darkest and furthest reaches of the American Id. Plumbing that depth and dredging up to sordid details may be in fact impossible.
The NYTimes item on the Pentagon and CIA collecting information on Americans without any judicial or other oversight or compliance with any and independent legal standards should should shock no one.
William Arkin and Walter Pincus in the WaPo long ago exposed the CounterIntelligence Field Activity has a rogue part of the American National Security Id spying on Quakers and legitimate antiwar protestors as “potential terrorists”.
A Peek At The Dark Id
e do not to our knowledge have any contact with CIFA, but we are not strangers to the American National Security Id. We will say this. The sprawl is huge — far harder to comprehend from mere words on a blog page. From federal labs, to Fortune 500 companies, Think Tanks to private consultancies, to the actual overt covert institutions within the Community and the entire Pentagon apparat — the American National Security Id is a fearsome assemblage of personnel, technology, money and authority.
From Eisenhower's warnings up through 2000, the Id has struggled to break free of its shackles but was largely held in place by constitutional government. And a functioning Id, processing and dreaming of threats, is not a bad thing — the Id did in fact think up airplanes crashing into skyscrapers contra Cher Condi, for example. As the saying goes, however, it should be on tap but never on top.
In such a vast apparat, generalizations are hard to make and should be advanced with great trepidation. So we will emphasize the following caveat: in our experience.
Read more »