"How did it come to pass that an opposition's measure of a president's foreign policy was all or nothing, success or "failure"? The answer is that the political absolutism now normal in Washington arrived at the moment--Nov. 7, 2000--that our politics subordinated even a war against terror to seizing the office of the presidency." - Daniel Henninger - WSJ 11/18/05
"the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts." - George Orwell

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Iraqi Documents Are Put on Web, and Search Is On

Iraqi Documents Are Put on Web, and Search Is On - New York Times

Whether you are on the Right, Left, Up or Down everyone should be interested in these documents.

There are concerns mentioned in the article from both sides of the political spectrum and from those inside the intelligence community. None of which amount to much.

For instance, Michael Scheuer, a former Central Intelligence Agency specialist on terrorism said, "there's no quality control. You'll have guys out there with a smattering of Arabic drawing all kinds of crazy conclusions. Rush Limbaugh will cherry-pick from the right, and Al Franken will cherry-pick from the left."

This is nothing new, as cherry picking is the form of the age. Michael Scheuer should know since he like others pick and go with their assessments. Many of those that have stepped up with the "I disagreed all along" type argument have a huge arsenal from which to pick; as in intelligence possiblities abound, but only one particular thing is going actually to happen. Someone will always have been right.

Ray Robison, a former Army officer that worked for the Iraq Survey Group said, "No offense, but the mainstream media tells people what they want them to know." And he has a good point. It has become a time when people have to bounce all over the place on the net to get what is going on. There is no one location that anyone can go and get the straight story; at least as far as I am concerned.

The reality though is that there are not going to be clear answers to all our questions. Information will point in directions and people for the most part, will go in their various directions with it. People will then come to conclusions, but they'll need to put those conclusions into context and realize that they are not pointing to a smoking gun as is rarely the case in the intelligence business. Hopefully people will discover a healthy respect for the difficulties inherent in intelligence work and maybe realize the Bush administration did not have to manipulate intelligence to come to the conclusions it did. It seems that when trying to decipher various data you sometimes have to go out on a limb because there are alot of limbs to go out on. It is when you have to act on one of them that you find out which assessments were accurate and which were not.

As for concern that people will be running wild and second guessing this or that, take a look at the opening line of this article; "American intelligence agencies and presidential commissions long ago concluded that Saddam Hussein had no unconventional weapons and no substantive ties to Al Qaeda before the 2003 invasion." Which direction do you think the Times would/will go. Even though there are rarely straight answers in intelligence, the paper has reached a conclusion. Are they right?


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