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Republicans Made a Mess

The Washington Post story on the intelligence community shows that the community is a mess. But this is what the Republicans wanted. After 9/11, Bush and Cheney wanted somebody to blame, and they wanted intelligence to support their desire to go to war with Iraq, although Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. The CIA, which was the leading intelligence agency, with good reason, was vulnerable on both counts. It did not predict 9/11, although it did produce the famous President’s Daily Brief article warning of a similar attack, and it warned of the danger from Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations, which Richard Clark said were ignored. In addition, it did not have intel supporting going to war with Iraq, although when Colin Powell made his infamous speech to the UN, it scraped the bottom of the barrel and found intel to support him, although most of it turned out to be wrong. So Bush and Cheney set out to destroy the CIA, on the one hand by replacing the professional leadership with political hacks, and on the other by taking away CIA’s leadership role and giving it to someone isolated from intelligence collection and, except for Negroponte, someone who tended to support the military over civilian intelligence.

So now we have this huge intelligence apparatus that no doubt pays a fortune to political hacks of all persuasions, but mainly Republicans, because Bush and Cheney had more time to get their guys in. No doubt there are still some well educated, skilled intelligence professionals in the ranks, but they are lost among the mediocre. I would guess that particularly the private companies, the loves of Republicans, are more willing to say whatever the bosses want them to say than career professionals, , who have some cover except in extreme cases, for example when Bush and Cheney ran a vendetta against them.
The good news is that the terrorist threat is not great, nothing like a more historical threat by another nation against the US. By and large these terrorists are poorly funded, not well trained, and poorly led. They may have access to hundreds of millions of dollars, but what is the US defense budget, something like a trillion dollars. It’s non-conventional warfare, and in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Indians inflicted some serious defeats on the white soldiers, but in the end the whites won easily.
Currently, the economic threat from China is much more serious. And if China ever decides to pose a military threat to the US, it will dwarf the terrorist threat from Muslims.

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