Monday, December 03, 2007

The Traitorous CIA - A Right-Wing Article Of Faith With Many Lives

The National Intelligence Estimate released today is explicit - Iran halted its nuclear weapons research program four years ago. As recently as last week, I heard an analyst for Israeli intelligence throw out all sorts of numbers about how soon Iran would have "the bomb", but insisting they were on the path.

It's. All. A. Lie.

Now, obviously, we will hear all sorts of things about how wrong the CIA was about Iraqi WMDs - which Bush and Congress apparently swallowed whole, and about which we never hear a twinge of regret.

Except, of course, that is a lie, too. Like Karl Rove all over the gab fests insisting it was the Democrats in Congress who wanted a vote on the AUMF Iraq resolution before the 2002 mid-term elections, they lie even when they know the facts are out there to disprove their lies.

It's like this. In the run-up to the invasion, there was much concern over what the "intelligence community" thought was going on. The answer, repeatedly, was "nothing". No aluminum tubes. No underground research labs. No mobile biological weapons labs. Nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada. The whole thing was dismantled, erased, eradicated.

The Vice President didn't like that, so he set up Paul Wolfowitz as the head of something innocuously called The Office of Special Plans. In essence, unvetted, unanalyzed reports from CIA sources were put in a pipeline to Cheney's office, and this was the report that Cheney, through his ability to manipulate the bureaucracy, forced the CIA to sign off on, and that Congress read. In other words, when it is said that the CIA was "wrong" about WMDs - it's a lie. Period.

The right-wing distrust of the CIA dates back to the end of the Vietnam War. After Nixon resigned, and the right increasingly flexed its muscles on the Ford Administration, many wanted a return to Cold War posturing with the Soviet Union. Ford wasn't really all that game; neither was Kissinger, who thought the right wingers were bonkers. Ford decided the best way to give them what they wanted was to create a panel to analyze pretty much everything about the Soviet Union. Summing up, the report said that, while formidable, the Soviet Union's ability to counter the United States was severely limited. While their defense budget was much larger as a percentage of their overall national expenditures, their budget was less than half that of the US. There were systemic problems of corruption and a lack of broad legitimacy that further weakened the Soveits vis-a-vis the US.

The right didn't like that report at all. They thought it far too rosy a scenario. They forced Ford to form another team, called Team B (the other report became known as the Team A report). Team B was led by then-CIA Director George H. W. Bush. The Team B report was a frightening mix of nonsense and bogus reporting; unvetted, unanalyzed material became authentic fact. There was no comparison at all between the relative values of the ruble and dollar, the question of political legitimacy, or the relative sizes of the budgets. The Team B report was, in essence, made up of all the fears the Right harbored about the dangers of the Evil Empire, and it was bullshit from beginning to end.

It also became the blueprint for right-wing intelligence work. This is one of the reasons they seemed flat-footed in 1989 as the Warsaw Pact crumbled, and in 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed in a failed coup attempt. It wasn't that they weren't receiving good reports from the folks in the field. The reigning ideology of the CIA refused to acknowledge the inherent weakness of the Soviet system. Thus the reports were discounted.

When the CIA was revamped a few years back, Florida Congressman and former CIA officer Porter Goss was made director. It was trumpeted throughout the press that he would be "cleaning house" of all the "traitors". In fact, he left less than a year later because morale at the Agency was so low; apparently some right-wingers actually believe this nonsense about all these America-hating liberals infesting the CIA with defeatism, and Goss was one of them. In the end, however, he had to go because he was destroying the Agency from the inside.

One would think that the catastrophic failure of pretty much every right-wing idea would make people laugh when they try to resurrect them. Alas, our memory is shorter than a pithed minnow's, so I am quite sure we will hear all about how stupid and untrustworthy the CIA is. Except, it's really the right wing that is stupid and untrustworthy.

Virtual Tin Cup

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