Thursday, August 24, 2006

Here We Go Again

Some in G.O.P. Say Iran Threat Is Played Down - New York Times:
WASHINGTON, Aug. 23 — Some senior Bush administration officials and top Republican lawmakers are voicing anger that American spy agencies have not issued more ominous warnings about the threats that they say Iran presents to the United States.

The criticisms reflect the views of some officials inside the White House and the Pentagon who advocated going to war with Iraq and now are pressing for confronting Iran directly over its nuclear program and ties to terrorism, say officials with knowledge of the debate.
Think this administration wouldn't make the same mistake (on purpose) twice? Think about it.
The new report, from the House Intelligence Committee, led by Representative Peter Hoekstra, Republican of Michigan, portrayed Iran as a growing threat and criticized American spy agencies for cautious assessments about Iran’s weapons programs. “Intelligence community managers and analysts must provide their best analytical judgments about Iranian W.M.D. programs and not shy away from provocative conclusions or bury disagreements in consensus assessments,” the report said, using the abbreviation for weapons of mass destruction like nuclear arms.

Some policy makers also said they were displeased that American spy agencies were playing down intelligence reports — including some from the Israeli government — of extensive contacts recently between Hezbollah and members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. “The people in the community are unwilling to make judgment calls and don’t know how to link anything together,” one senior United States official said.

“We’re not in a court of law,” he said. “When they say there is ‘no evidence,’ you have to ask them what they mean, what is the meaning of the term ‘evidence’?”
So it would seem that the "errors" the intelligence community made in the run-up to the Iraq war are now causing the community to err on the side of caution when it comes to Iran? Yet somehow this is construed as being a reason to suspect Iran of more than the intelligence people are saying, of being a more dangerous enemy than appearances would show. But isn't that exactly what the administration said and did before the invasion of Iraq? They had to pressure the intelligence people to find "evidence" that supported their case for war and ignore the building evidence that Iraq posed no threat.
Many senior Bush administration officials have long been dismissive of the work of the intelligence agencies. Shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Pentagon set up an office led by Douglas J. Feith, the Defense Department’s third-ranking civilian official at the time, that sifted through raw intelligence to look for links between terrorist networks and governments like Iraq’s.
Now that the intelligence community has learned from their prior mistakes (getting burned by all sides in the process), they are telling the administration that there is no immediate threat from Iran based on what little evidence they have one way or another. Yet this is being cited by that same administration as reason to believe the opposite yet again! This is bizzarro-land wing-nut logic at its most insidious and dangerous level. The powers-that-be must be aware that they are going to lose their position come November unless they can present to the American people a stronger case for maintaining the status-quo, and yet another war, yet another stirring of the hornets' nest, may be their only way of managing this. This is the politics of fear at it's worst. We must not be manipulated like this again. They must be stopped, and as soon as possible!
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