Salon: Intelligence Failures Just Part of the Bigger Problem

This piece at the Salon War Room puts the WMD Intelligence Commission’s report in context. It’s clear that the intelligence community ignoring voices of dissent isn’t an isolated incident in the Bush administration, but rather part of a well-established pattern of tuning out anyone outside of the administration’s groupthink.

Around two years ago, an article ran detailing how the administration had failed to value the expertise of Clinton-era officials and civil servants with experience in running what Bush was then denigrating as ‘nation building’ campaigns. These individuals were shown the door as the Bush administration came into power- despite the fact that in both Afghanistan and Iraq, it was exactly their experience and skills that the administration would need when ‘nation building’ became fashionable once again, wrapped in the label of ‘spreading freedom’.

Now, the Rand Corporation has released a study showing how self-reinforcing views in the Department of Defense lead to inadequate planning for the post-war situation in Iraq, and the absence of ‘nation building’ expertise left the Pentagon with inadequate experience in working with local aid organizations and reconstructing a post-war nation.

James Dobbins, an expert in post-war reconstruction and an official at the Rand Corporation, was on record as far back as November of 2003 pointing out how the Bush administration’s unwillingness to learn from the Balkan peacekeeping operations was a ‘costly exercise in “political correctness”‘- another case of the administration’s ‘not invented here’ attitude. The Bush administration feels that it can not trust anyone who disagrees. They seem to be unwilling to believe that reasonable, intelligent people could come to conclusions that differ from their own. Their inability to listen to dissent- at campaign rallies and in the Pentagon- points to a combination of paranoia and insecurity that has cost already cost lives here and abroad.

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