Friday, February 18, 2005

It's Not Second Guessing if You Say It First

Career paths are often more the result of unintended consequences than of concrete plans. All of my formal education is in music, yet I will probably make more money this year than I ever did as a musician. (Before anyone starts hitting me up for loans, that says more about my musical skills than my present income level.) Occasionally current events give one pause to think of what might have been along the road not taken. This week was one of those times.

On March 15, 2003, a couple of days before the War to End All Wars Against Iraq began, The Home Office printed the following comment:

Running amuck like a longshoreman on a three-day drunk will remove Saddam, but it is more likely to create more terrorists of those currently on the fence than it is to lessen the danger.

Last Wednesday Porter Goss, freshly-minted Director of the CIA, made the following comments to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence:

"Islamic extremists are exploiting the Iraqi conflict to recruit new anti-U.S. jihadists… These jihadists who survive will leave Iraq experienced and focused on acts of urban terrorism. They represent a potential pool of contacts to build transnational terrorist cells, groups and networks in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other countries."

Who’d’ve thunk it? We spend, at last count, jillions of dollars a year on intelligence to tell us salient facts like this after the fact. I was willing to do it ahead of time, for nothing.

Of more concern is the continuation of the Bush Administration’s central theme of governance: we told you how dangerous things were to get money to do what we wanted; we fucked it up; now we’re telling you how dangerous things have become since we fucked it up so you’ll give us more money to do what we want. No accountability; in fact, we’ve promoted those primarily responsible for the fuck ups in the first place. (Technically Don Rumsfeld has no where else to go without running for office. He obviously felt empowered enough by his Iraq miscalculations and errors to walk out of a House budget hearing the other day. I doubt he would have done that three years ago.)

A day or so before Goss’ comments, the CIA issued a revised Security Estimate to let all of us know that in its esteemed opinion, Iraq has no Weapons of Mass Destruction, nor did they before the war. Did it really take a new assessment to determine that? Everyone else knew it six months ago, all but officially.

I always thought the purpose behind spending all this money was so our intelligence community could give us an idea of what to expect before it happened. We already have mechanisms in place to tell us what already happened, and they’re a lot cheaper: they’re called newspapers. This newest Estimate is so far behind the curve, books have already been written on the subject. One has to wonder if the CIA has a field office at Barnes & Noble.

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