Democrats & Liberals Archives

The Crystal Ball Dilemma

The Bush Administration, so far as I can tell, wants to spin the intelligence failure of Iraq’s unconventional weapons threat instead of getting its act together.

If that was not the case, why is George Tenet set to give a speech saying intelligence is not a crystal ball? Is the Bush Administration going to make the claim like others have made in the party that because intelligence is never a hundred percent, we should tolerate massive failures of intelligence like this one?

If so, I couldn’t be happier. Don’t be surprised. The Bush administration, by doing this, has planted itself right in the middle of a real unfavorable Catch-22.

What is the Crystal Ball Dilemma? If our intelligence is genuinely that bad, and guaranteed to stay that way, what were we doing in Iraq fighting a pre-emptive war? That's if Tenet's statement is true.

The other horn of the dilemma is that the resources were there to make a better intelligence assessment, but the management and staff failed to take advantage of, or give due attention to, that collection of resources within the intelligence community. If that was the case, given what investigations have revealed, America had no business invading Iraq on the grounds it did.

Either way, the choices we're being offered by the administration are equally bad. They would have us choose between being proactive on bad intelligence, or have us justifying our actions on premises that that turn out to run counter to the facts.

Either way, what we have here is a recipe for mediocrity in our foreign policy. We should not be gathering good intelligence and wasting it on bad or politically skewed analysis. Nor should we be accepting low quality intelligence as proof of the validity of our foreign policy, not when it will inevitably lead our nation to make the wrong conclusions again and again.

If this is to be the tenor of Bush foreign policy and intelligence gathering, how can Bush guarantee us homeland security in any meaningful way? How is Bush protecting American lives when his answer to our intelligence failures is, It's the best we could do?

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at February 4, 2004 6:10 PM