‘Enquiring Minds Want to Know’
Vol: 29 Issue: 2 Monday, February 2, 2004
“The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment.” (Proverbs 12:19)
Since UK Prime Minister Tony Blair was exonerated from charges he ‘sexed up’ the intelligence information to make a case for war, he has demanded — and received — written apologies from some of his loudest critics. Even the BBC has apologized for unfairly slandering both the Prime Minister and his top advisors.
The Hutton Commission determined that the intelligence information given to the Blair government was not exaggerated, and that the Prime Minister’s office was acting on it in good faith. Judge Lord Hutton also exonerated Blair off blame for the suicide of Iraq weapons’ expert David Kelly.
Now the British opposition is demanding an ‘investigation’ of the intelligence failures that US weapons inspector David Kay said were responsible for the UK’s invasion of Iraq, hoping they can still salvage some kind of scandal they can use to bring down his government.
The same scenario is playing out on the other side of the Atlantic as US lawmakers are trying to find a way to hold the Bush administration responsible for the veracity of US intelligence agencies.
It would seen logical to conduct a legitimate investigation, but it also seems unlikely any such investigation will BE legitimate. The systematic dismemberment of the US intelligence-gathering apparatus began during the Carter administration. The CIA and other intelligence agencies enjoyed a bit of a renaissance during the Reagan years, but the Iran-Contra investigation forced the Reagan administration to back off covert operations.
During the first Bush administration, President Bush 41, himself a former CIA Director, tried to rehabilitate the CIA again, but pulled the rug out from underneath them, post Gulf War I, when then-candidate Bill Clinton made the so-called ‘peace dividend’ a campaign issue.
During the eight years of the Clinton administration, all of America’s defense capabilities were ‘down-sized’ as intelligence agencies were de-funded, military readiness and troop strength was reduced, US military bases at home and abroad were scrapped, and the Clinton economic ‘miracle years’ made America think it could have its cake and eat it too.
Nobody noticed that balancing the budget by rolling the military budget into the general fund had decimated our defensive ability until the late 1990’s when we realized we didn’t know what was going on in the world.
In 1998, the Clinton administration was embarrassed when India detonated its first atomic weapon and the CIA didn’t even know they were conducting nuclear research.
A subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations committee immediately called for an ‘investigation’ that never went anywhere, since it was the Republicans at the time that were calling for it.
“I am astonished that the Indian government was able to catch the U.S. intelligence capability so sound asleep at the switch,” said Committee Chairman Jesse Helms, R-North Carolina on May 12, 1998.
That ‘investigation’ went nowhere, since the Democrats knew it would eventually fall right in their laps. Their guy was in the White House. Their guy was the one whose campaign revolved around what to do with the ‘peace dividend’.
In his first State of the Union speech, Clinton told America how he was going to ‘revitalize’ the economy.
“In order to accomplish public investment and deficit reduction,government spending is being cut and taxes are being increased. Our spending cuts were carefully thought through to try to minimize any economic impact, to CAPTURE THE PEACE DIVIDEND FOR INVESTMENT PURPOSES, and to switch the balance in the budget from consumption to investment. The tax increases and spending cuts were both designed to assure that the cost of this historic program to face and deal with our problems is borne by those who could most readily afford that cost.” (February 17, 1993)
Tens of billions of dollars were cut from the military and intelligence services budgets. After all, the Soviet Union had collapsed, and America didn’t have any enemies to worry about. Saddam Hussein was contained in his box by UN sanctions.
There was no need to waste all that money on national defense and spy agencies. And there wasn’t — in 1993. Although Clinton’s State of the Union speech was delivered in 1993, using the values of 1993, most of his rhetoric was about the 21st century.
“Second, our plan looks beyond today’s business cycle, because our aspirations extend into the next century. The heart of our plan deals with the long term.”
A peek at history proves the ‘long-term’ expired just before Clinton’s administration did.
Now, the Democrats, hoping to use the intelligence failures that led up to 9/11 and the intelligence failures about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction projects, are calling for a new investigation of what went wrong with the CIA.
It is unlikely to be a legitimate investigation, since the object is NOT to find out what went wrong — anybody whose memory goes back to 1993 already knows what went wrong.
Instead, the object of the investigation — from the perspective of those demanding it, is to find a way to blame the current administration for not correcting the mistakes of the previous administration without actually blaming the previous administration for making them in the first place.
In his testimony, Dr. Kay said there WAS evidence of a weapons of mass destruction program. He said that Saddam was manufacturing the deadly poison, ricin, right up to the outbreak of the war. The only thing Kay really said was that he didn’t find any stockpiles and didn’t believe that he would.
Senator Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat who keeps a long list of administration claims made to justify the Iraq war, accused Dr. Kay of trying to shield the president.
“He is trying quite clearly to put the responsibility on the intelligence community and deflect it from the administration,” Senator Levin said in an interview. “He obviously supports the president.” That’s the Democrats view.
The Republicans have a different view: “The president is a consumer of intelligence, not a producer of it,” said Richard Perle, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and an ardent proponent of the war. “I have long thought our intelligence in the gulf has been woefully inadequate.”
Dr. Kay himself is a political innocent. He seemed genuinely surprised to learn that some members of the Central Intelligence Agency were furious at him for criticizing the agency that hired him. He dismissed lawmakers who call him biased as practitioners of “gotcha politics.” He really believes an investigation will bear fruit, because he naively believes that partisan politics will take a back seat to patriotism.
The mainstream media selectively reported Dr. Kay’s testimony as ‘proof’ the administration lied to the American people, ignoring Kay’s testimony that, based on the information provided to the administration, “it was reasonable to conclude that Iraq posed an imminent threat.”
Was the WMN information used by the White House to justify the war incorrect? It seems possible, even likely, that some of it was. Was the war unjustified? Now THAT is a question to which I can hardly wait to hear the answer.
It is an iron-clad certainty that whatever answer the Democrats ultimately settle on won’t be the truth.
The Democrats are placing all their bets on the idea that removing Saddam Hussein from power was justified by the outcome, but was unjustified by the intelligence used to make the decision. All the while, they have to downplay WHY the intelligence services were unprepared for war.
Because they were the ones who unprepared them. And their entire argument — together with America’s version of the BBC, the liberal media, depends on their ability to convince America to give them a chance to unprepare us again.