TCU Daily Skiff Thursday, February 05, 2004
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Bush not to blame for CIA
Faulty intelligence cause of Iraq fiasco


Patrick Jennings
is a junior economics major from Melbourne, Fla.


It almost happened. I almost let the Democrats brainwash me. I was oh so close to believing that the Bush administration set up a huge conspiracy to attack Iraq, knowing for certain that there were no weapons of mass destruction.

I started from the position that the intelligence was faulty and David Kay’s testimony brought me back there last week. Bush acted on intelligence that said Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. He acted with the knowledge that Saddam had deep ties to terrorism, even if they weren’t necessarily to al Qaeda.

The Democratic primary candidates have been acting on 20/20 hindsight. Iraq was pointing an unloaded gun in our general direction, and they’re mad that we shot at them first. Of course, as long as it still gets a crowd to cheer and gets you a sound bite on CNN, they’ll keep harping on the issue.

It didn’t take a huge stretch of the imagination to believe that Saddam had WMDs. We know Saddam had them before. And, to paraphrase Hans Blix, these weapons aren’t like marmalade, you keep track of where they are. Saddam didn’t show that he destroyed them. He wouldn’t let the UN commission look for them freely. You don’t have to be a CIA operative to know that sounds suspicious.

OK, so if Bush is justified in going to war, and basing that decision on WMD, why is he reluctant to form a committee to probe the intelligence community? It’s a simple reason and it leads into the real problem from Kay’s testimony.

The CIA and its associates messed up. I’d rather use a more colorful word to describe it, but this is a family newspaper. There’s no reliable way for the president to double-check what the international intelligence community finds. He and the American people have to trust them in, literally, matters of life and death. A mistake this large destroys their credibility. And when the president starts insinuating that he no longer trusts the intelligence, the people will quickly follow suit.

Bush is trying to salvage some remnant of the legitimacy the CIA once had. He’s saying through actions that not much is wrong. He’s not covering his own mistakes, but he’s committing an entirely independent transgression.

The CIA was formed at the beginning of the cold war. Its goal was to keep track of the USSR and her underlings. This involved a central target with a supposed central mission. The cold war is over, and the new threat is a diffuse enemy with no central organization. But things in Washington have momentum, and the CIA is no different. There’s a commitment to doing things the way they were done before, regardless of whether the methods are best or not.

They missed the two World Trade Center attacks. They missed the two embassy bombings in Africa. They missed the attack on the USS Cole.

Obviously, something has to change.

You can only hope that the bipartisan (and it will definitely be bipartisan) commission investigating the intelligence community can guilt them into doing their jobs.

If not, well, I’ll at least have another topic to write a column on.
 
 
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