Tuesday, April 01, 2008

 

Partisan Foxes, Intelligence Chickens

Gabriel Schoenfeld, writing in Online Journal, presents a damning assessment of what should be considered The Real Bush Intelligence Failure, stating that “American intelligence remains mired in bureaucratic mediocrity.” Part of that mediocrity, Schoenfeld asserts, is well reflected in the vaunted “achievements” of that same Bureaucracy:
But a fascinating glimpse of troubles in the ODNI [Office of the Director of National Intelligence] and the broader intelligence community comes from Nancy Bernkopf Tucker, until last summer an ODNI assistant deputy director. Ms. Tucker used her position, as she writes in the latest Washington Quarterly, to "galvanize change" among intelligence analysts. Under her tutelage, they would henceforth be required to "properly source evidence, avoid politicization, acknowledge uncertainty and assumptions, use alternative analysis, explain consistency or deviation, and strive for accuracy."

It speaks volumes that Ms. Tucker hails the imposition of such basic requirements as if it were a revolution.
For Intelligence Community (IC) Bureaucrats of a more partisan bent, the belief that the Bush Administration attempted to “politicize” intelligence stands as a core article of faith, as central to their doctrine as the necessity of a wall of separation between intelligence and law enforcement. No doubt Ms. Tucker represents one of the many rebels with a cause, seeking to undue all that Nasty Politicking after 9/11. Bring things back to the way they were, 9/10/01 and before.

Schoenfeld sees more or what he identifies as a failure of leadership, particularly on the “analytic side of the house:”
The ranking official in charge of analysis at the ODNI is Thomas Fingar, a principal drafter of the misleading Iran NIE and a former State Department official with a long record of undercutting the policies of the Bush White House. It is not an accident that back in September, shortly before the NIE was issued, Mr. Fingar selected as his deputy for "analytic integrity" Richard Immerman, a professor from Temple University who had taken part in "teach-ins" against the war in Iraq, and who had accused the Bush administration of gross malfeasance in the run-up to the invasion. The "Bushites," Mr. Immerman wrote of the White House in an essay published in January, made "every effort to 'cook the books,' they 'hyped' the need to go to war, and they lied too often to count."

In addition to being in charge of maintaining analytic standards, Mr. Immerman also occupies the position of "ombudsman" within the ODNI. In other words, the very official responsible for investigating allegations of partisanship in the production of intelligence is himself a declared partisan in the intelligence wars. No wonder analysts are keeping their heads close to their desks.
No better case exists for a Partisan Fox guarding the Intelligence hen house.

Clearly, partisans have indulged in a sordid history of IC politicization for the entirety of the Bush Administration. But contrary to the myths propagated by the opponents of the Administration, inside and out, those most responsible have been the bureaucrats who zealously guard their fiefdoms, and who feed and prolong grievances they’ve harbored since the last change in Administrations.

(Via Instapundit)

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