(Update) "Politicized" Intelligence and the CIA
8:57 AM, Feb 17, 2006 • By DANIEL MCKIVERGAN
(Update II: Today's Wall Street Journal has a piece by a former CIA intelligence officer on the "dodgy disclosures" of Paul Pillar and how his actions "will end up making the CIA even less relevant than it is today--if that is possible.")
(Update I: Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) told Tim Russert on Sunday's Meet the Press that Paul Pillar said nothing about subtle political pressure on analysts when he was interviewed as part of the committee's investigation of pre-war intelligence. "Now we interviewed over 250 analysts during the WMD-the WMD inquiry, including this gentleman [Mr. Pillar]. Not one, except him now, post after all this is done, said that they were pressured in any way. And that was backed up by the WMD commission.")
Not surprisingly, the Washington Post's Walter Pincus reports on an upcoming Foreign Affairs piece by Paul Pillar, the CIA's national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia from 2000 to 2005. Pillar's views are old news, of course, as Stephen Hayes points out. He believed that "containment" was working and that Saddam could have been kept "in his box" -- a favorite phrase of Secretary of State Albright during the Clinton years. Fine. But the president, elected by the voters to make policy judgments, and many others disagreed then and still do today with Pillar's "in his box" assessment -- see here. Since the Iraq invasion, Pillar hasn't apparently been shy in letting people know "privately" and also publicly about the wisdom of the CIA and the ignorance of the Bush White House.
Of course, Mr. Pillar's dismissive comments are puzzling given that, at the time, U.S. intelligence had no high-level, human assets in Saddam's inner circle let alone inside the top ranks of al Qaeda. For example, consider these two congressional reports, the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001 (pp. 90, 91), and the Report on U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq (pp. 322, 323, 351, 355):
But then again, perhaps the people who wrote these reports were "subtly" pressured to reach these conclusions.