It's been interesting to hear how locked-in to bad intelligence, influenced by the state's own propaganda in a self-perpetuating loop, Putin is. Reminds me a lot of the "intelligence failures" that led to the Iraq War--wherein Cheney and Rummy set up their own "intelligence" agency at DoD: Office of Special Plans--which now sounds Monty Pythonesque given the clusterf*ck that emerged from it.
It was set up as an ideologically-driven "intelligence" source to make the case for war. In other words, it helped to crank out the propaganda that made "real Americans" gung-ho to stop that Hitler Saddam. (Other Hitlers are kinda cool, apparently. See Putin.)
And so the people in charge set up an intelligence agency that they could trust to affirm their beliefs about the necessity of war and the likelihood of its rousing success.
The information CTEG put together was treated differently than other intelligence. Unlike other reports, CTEG's conclusions about Iraq's training of jihadists in the use of explosives and weapons of mass destruction were never distributed to the many different agencies in the intelligence community. Although CTEG analysts met once with Director George Tenet and other CIA officials, they changed no minds at the agency on the issue of Saddam and al-Qaida, and their work was never "coordinated" or cleared by the various agencies that weigh in on intelligence publications. Top officers in military intelligence who saw the report refused to concur with it.
Nonetheless, CTEG's findings were the basis for briefings in the White House and on Capitol Hill. Some of CTEG's material was leaked to the Weekly Standard, where it was published. In that form, the Feith "annex" achieved some renown as a classic in the genre of cherry-picked intelligence.
Dick Cheney was CTEG's patron. He had the group present its material at OVP and the National Security Council. He made frequent public remarks, drawing on CTEG conclusions, alleging an al-Qaida/Saddam connection. (Even after the 9/11 commission delivered its verdict that there was no collaborative relationship between the two sides, Cheney announced that the evidence of the Bin Laden-Baghdad ties was "overwhelming.") John Hannah, a Cheney aide who became the vice president's national security adviser after Libby's resignation, recycled some of the material into a draft of the speech Secretary of State Colin Powell was to give at the United Nations in February 2003—a draft that Powell threw out, calling it "b*llsh*t."
The wide airing of CTEG material clearly irked George Tenet, who declared at one point when pressed by congressmen in 2003 that he would "talk to" Cheney about some of the claims he was making. Whatever passed between them, Cheney was not deterred. In January 2004, he told a reporter for the Rocky Mountain News that the Standard article was the "best source of information" on Saddam's ties to al-Qaida. In June 2004, Cheney was still claiming that 9/11 conspirator Mohammed Atta met an Iraqi agent in Prague.
We humans, especially those of us who are certain we're always right, always the "good guys," are prone to gobbling up any information that supports our views and vilifies those we perceive as the "bad guys."
And we never learn. This is why it is scary to think about the weapons we have available to us now.
One thing the Cold War gave us was this: the threat of mutually-assured destruction made people in leadership positions be ver-ry care-ful about leaping to conclusions. I don't know, but I suspect that intelligence in those days was much less cherry-picked for fear that some ideological extremists on board were looking for reasons for aggression. Aggression could very well equal the end. So I bet that intelligence analysis was subjected to more rigid applications of logic than is this case today. Which is worrisome considering we humans can still blow up civilization.
Edited by Spectacles, 06 March 2014 - 08:11 AM.