Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Politicized Intelligence

Political operatives at the CIA (with the assistance of State Department allies) continue to wage war against the Bush Administration in the latest anonymously sourced leak, as reported at Raw Story. This time, anonymous “current and former intelligence officials” dismiss the latest National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) as sloppy, politicized, and not to be believed – even if it’s accurate.

Of a piece with previous leaks by oppositional CIA bureaucrats, this latest attack elevates analytic differences, vested bureaucratic interests, crass selfish ambition, and plain old politics above any possible concerns about National Security.

That those at the CIA responsible for these leaks base their criticisms on their self-justifying perception that the Bush Administration has “politicized” intelligence reveals a level of hypocrisy rarely achieved, even in Washington.

Any intelligence official who reveals details of classified information is breaking the law and violating a sworn oath. That they do so to achieve partisan or political ends is immoral and unethical. That the press corps seeks out such incidents of both criminal and immoral behavior speaks volumes of them, as well. Politicized, it all is surely. If only the Bush Administration were political minded by half as their internal and external enemies. If only. Partisans on both sides of these issues must know this, and those opposed to the President must have quite a laugh at his expense.

These anonymous disclosers of classified information assert to Raw Story that the NIE “does not provide evidence to support its assertions.”

Speaking of an unsupported assertion, Raw Story asserts that these unauthorized disclosers of classified information were “speaking under condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.” Another way of phrasing this, in a manner supported by facts, rather than partisan dissembling, is that these intelligence officials spoke under conditions of anonymity because to speak at all in these matters is to commit a felony. They speak anonymously because they’d go to jail for years to say the exact things publicly.

I don’t seek access to the classified NIE, but I have seen the unclassified versions of several such documents. I don’t recall any, nor any description of their classified versions, that make much mention of evidence.

Yet, the Raw Story piece offers several conflicting assessments of the significance of the NIE assertion that terrorist group and Iranian proxy Hezbollah may attack the US if the US threatens Iran, so much so that it’s difficult to glean what point they think they’re making.

First, Raw Story asserts that the NIE “may have inflated the domestic threat posed by the Lebanese political and military group Hezbollah, perhaps because it receives financial support from Iran.” Note the grossly misleading phrase, “political and military group.” Sounds like a militia group, perhaps a paramilitary one, hardly a phrase that adequately describes an active terrorist group like Hezbollah.

Then, Raw Story suggests that the allegations about Hezbollah were simply "thrown in," and reveal that “The NIE seems… fiddled [with].”

Yet even as the CIA leaker responsible for this assertion makes that point, he contradicts himself: “Whether it is or isn't is not really the point. The point is that nobody is ready to believe it.” I would think that whether the potential threat of a Hezbollah attack against the US was real or not would be entirely the point of the NIE, regardless of the political viability of the assertion or the willingness of belief (in some quarters).

Consider the total corruption of a career Intelligence Community (IC) bureaucrat: whether a threat is real or not is beside that point of whether anyone would believe the threat. Oh well, if nobody would believe it, then we better not suggest it. Sounds like a perfect prescription for another 9/11.

Raw Story follows this illogic with what they believe are definitive proofs (prior Raw Story reporting, of course) that the US is seriously planning an attack on Iran, as well as conducting covert actions against Iranian interests.

Raw Story then introduces expert testimony that the inclusion of the warning about Hezbollah is entirely justified when considered by the exact same caveat mentioned in the NIE, “if they perceive a threat from the US (against Iran or Hezbollah itself)”:
Professor of International Relations at Boston University Augustus Richard Norton, the author of a new book on Hezbollah titled Hezbollah: A Short Story, does not believe a Hezbollah-based attack on US soil is likely as long as the US does not attack Iran.

"The NIE language about the threat of an Hezbollah attack on the U.S. homeland basically states that it is conceivable that the group would attack in the US if the US attacked it or its sponsor, Iran," Dr. Norton wrote in an email to RAW STORY over the weekend.

"In contrast, al-Qaeda is accurately depicted as aggressively seeking to bring terrorism home to Americans," Norton added. "We may conceive of many unwelcome events, but the question is how likely is this to happen? Following the language of the NIE, I would argue that so long as the US does not pose an existential threat to Hezbollah, or to Iran, the likelihood of an attack by Hezbollah on U.S. soil is low."
By Raw Story’s own assertion, the US poses “a real external threat” in several forms to Hezbollah and Iran, and by Norton’s assessment, means the threat of attack by Hezbollah ought not to be considered “low.”

If only US Government and military officials would implement national security policies favored by disgruntled CIA leakers of National Security secrets with oppositional partisan leanings, then we wouldn’t have to worry about these terrorist threats. Or we’d win against them. Or they wouldn’t bother us anymore. Or something.

So much for politicized intelligence.

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