Lessons of Iraq Aided Intelligence On Iran
Officials Cite New Caution And a Surge in Spying
By Joby Warrick and Walter Pincus Washington Post Staff Writers Wednesday, December 5, 2007; Page A01
The starkly different view of Iran's nuclear program that emerged from U.S. spy agencies this week was the product of a surge in clandestine intelligence-gathering in Iran as well as radical changes in the way the intelligence community analyzes information.
Drawing lessons from the intelligence debacle over supposed Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell required agencies to consult more sources and to say to a larger intelligence community audience precisely what they know and how they know it -- and to acknowledge, to a degree previously unheard of, what they do not know.
What a laugher of a headline--that 'lessons' in Iraq have actually been of some use, other than to disprove an entire administration position and strategy.
So it goes with newspapering in Washington.
The real story here--assuming there even is one--is that our spy agencies are finally looking at information instead of looking for reasons to confirm a preconception.
Cheney may be less of a presence haunting the halls of the CIA and Pentagon, spooking the spooks. These sixteen or eighteen agencies of the clandestine (almost a dozen more than we need, in my view), melded and molded by the brand-new and demonstrably incompetent DHS under Chertoff, mostly protect their sources and territory instead of cooperating.
Our enemies don't need to infiltrate. It serves them well enough to let us stumble. It took more than a year to get this estimate public. The story refused to fit the White House line of malarkey. So the WH kept sending it back, like a school report on 'what I did this summer' that failed to please the teacher.
"While intelligence officials say the new conclusion about the Iranian program proved that the reforms were sound, the wide gap between Monday's report and previous assessments also left the agencies vulnerable to accusations that officials had failed for too long to grasp a fundamental change in course by Iran's leaders."
That's not a typo, but could be. The paragraph copuld as easily read, "accusations that administration officials had failed for too long to accept the truth."
But then truth went missing on 9-11 and hasn't been seen since in the corridors of the West Wing.