February 05, 2004
not to blame for CIA
intelligence cause of Iraq fiasco
Patrick Jennings is a junior economics major from
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 Kays 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 werent 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 theyre 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, theyll
keep harping on the issue.
It didnt 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 arent
like marmalade, you keep track of where they are. Saddam
didnt show that he destroyed them. He wouldnt
let the UN commission look for them freely. You dont
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? Its a simple
reason and it leads into the real problem from Kays
The CIA and its associates messed up. Id rather
use a more colorful word to describe it, but this is a
family newspaper. Theres 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. Hes saying through actions that
not much is wrong. Hes not covering his own mistakes,
but hes 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.
Theres 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, Ill at least have another topic to
write a column on.