- Nov 22, 2003
- Reaction score
Very interesting post on Powerline:
June 10, 2007
What Did the CIA Tell President Bush About Iraq?
Earlier today, Scott discussed a recent article by Paul Pillar, in which Pillar defended the CIAs performance on Iraq. Pillar, who was largely responsible for Iraq intelligence, wrote about the Senate Intelligence Committees release of two reports that were authored by the National Intelligence Council, under Pillars direction, in January 2003: Principal Challenges in Post-Saddam Iraq and Regional Consequences of Regime Change in Iraq. Pillar begins with an admission that the intelligence community was wrong about Iraqs weapons of mass destruction. The thrust of his argument, however, is that the existence of WMDs did not mandate the overthrow of Saddam, and that, if the administration had paid proper heed to the intelligence communitys other reports, it would not have invaded Iraq.
This, then, raises the question: what did the CIA and other intelligence agencies predict would happen if we invaded Iraq? Did they foresee the events that have in fact unfolded over the last four years, or not?
This question is of great interest in its own right, but it also fits into a broader inquiry. Most people, I think, believe that post-war Iraq has been more or less a disaster. Many of those who supported the war in 2003 now say that the concept was good, but the execution has been bungled. Pillar argues, however, that a review of the pre-war intelligence assessments yields a different conclusion:
The story of these pre-war assessments has other implications that are at least as important, however, including ones for current debate over Iraq policy. The assessments support the proposition that the expedition in Iraq always was a fools errand rather than a good idea spoiled by poor execution, implying that the continued search for a winning strategy is likely to be fruitless.
Pillar argues that what we have seen since 2003 is not far off from what his agency predicted before the war beganthat we have done, on the whole, about as well as could be expected. Pillar thinks this means that the war was a mistake; the alternative interpretation is that we are not actually doing so badly in Iraq, and the problem is largely one of expectation and perception. Over the coming days, I want to look more closely at what was foreseen before the war was launched, what reasonably should have been foreseen, and how the reality that we now confront stacks up in comparison.
For now, though, lets consider the narrower question: how accurately did the intelligence community foresee what would happen in Iraq after Saddams fall?