Where were you three years ago?

Paul Pillar, a former CIA official, who served as the national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia from 2000 to 2005, says the WaPo that the administration "went to war without requesting -- and evidently without being influenced by -- any strategic-level intelligence assessments on any aspect of Iraq."

"It has become clear that official intelligence was not relied on in making even the most significant national security decisions, that intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions already made, that damaging ill will developed between [Bush] policymakers and intelligence officers, and that the intelligence community's own work was politicized," Pillar wrote…

In his article, Pillar said he believes that the "politicization" of intelligence on Iraq occurred "subtly" and in many forms, but almost never resulted from a policymaker directly asking an analyst to reshape his or her results. "Such attempts are rare," he writes, "and when they do occur . . . are almost always unsuccessful."

Instead, he describes a process in which the White House helped frame intelligence results by repeatedly posing questions aimed at bolstering its arguments about Iraq.

The Bush administration, Pillar wrote, "repeatedly called on the intelligence community to uncover more material that would contribute to the case for war," including information on the "supposed connection" between Hussein and al Qaeda, which analysts had discounted. "Feeding the administration's voracious appetite for material on the Saddam-al Qaeda link consumed an enormous amount of time and attention."

The result of the requests, and public statements by the president, Vice President Cheney and others, led analysts and managers to conclude the United States was heading for war well before the March 2003 invasion, Pillar asserted.

They thus knew, he wrote, that senior policymakers "would frown on or ignore analysis that called into question a decision to go to war and welcome analysis that supported such a decision. . . . [They] felt a strong wind consistently blowing in one direction. The desire to bend with such a wind is natural and strong, even if unconscious."
Not to sound ungrateful to Mr. Pillar for confirming—yet again—a bunch of stuff we already knew, but how much good does this do us now, three years into the war? Aside from the fact that there’s little chance of Bush and his Merry Band of Malefactors ever being held accountable for their cherry-picking and manipulation of intelligence anyway, wouldn’t this information have been more useful before thousands of troops and Iraqi civilians were injured or killed and hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money had been flushed down the toilet or redirected into Daddy Warbucks’ coffers?

When asked why he did not quit given his concerns, Pillar said in the interview that he was doing "other worthwhile work in the nation's interest" and never thought of resigning over the issue.
What about going to the press? What if all the people who have come out after the fact—whether it be the lead-up to the war, the EPA’s obfuscation over Ground Zero, the FEMA debacle, the domestic spying program, or any other of the Bush administration “scandals”—had, instead, gone to the press and told their stories over and over until someone listened? And if no one listened, then started a blog, put together podcasts, whatever, in an attempt to stop any of these things from happening instead of just pointing the finger back at the Bushies after it’s too late?

There’s always someone to say, “I raised concerns” or “I felt uncomfortable, but…” There are even people who have resigned to “spend more time with their families.” But what I really notice is a plethora of people who are willing to say they objected to things being done by various government agencies while they were in those agencies’ service and helping them do those things, and a lack of people who had the willingness to put country above self and make any kind of real attempt to stop those things from happening. I can’t help feeling that there’s a whole lot of blame being cast back at the Bush administration by people who were once complicit, even if “unwillingly,” in their machinations.

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