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The Vegas Book On Iraq

Reading Douglas Juhl's Sunday New York Times piece on a Defense Intelligence Agency document released by Senate Armed Services Committee ranking Democrat, Sen. Carl Levin, made me think of the sports book guys on cable TV.

Levin would have you believe that where CIA intelligence was flawed, DIA's was magically 100% correct. If find that hard to believe - especially in light of such wooden statements such as this:

"Saddam's regime is intensely secular and is wary of Islamic revolutionary movements," the D.I.A. report said in one of two declassified paragraphs. "Moreover, Baghdad is unlikely to provide assistance to a group it cannot control."
That's boilerplate analysis my friends, it's got no relation to boots on the ground intelligence. Saddam's government was substantially more dynamic in it's allies and casual alliances than that wrote an analysis could ever indicate.

On this particular report I do find it odd that a report from one agency is given credence in discrediting the work of another, when it's entirely possible that both (or neither) were wrong. I've got no inside scoop as to the validity of the information in the DIA report - for all I know every word of it is true. It's also true that one of the benefits of looking at the world through the intel font of known truths is that one can easily triangulate a winning (or non-loosing) strategy by sticking close to the "known facts." When it comes to intelligence these "known facts" often turn out to be neither.

You know that crazy screaming guy on the football betting show who "I loooooooooveee these games!"? No one ever looks back at his past record, since he's so busy telling you all the winners he's picked. I suspect that the pre-war intelligence assessments have so much contradictory information, and couched language, in them that they can be spun as winners regardless of the actual outcome.

I can imaging the reports authors saying, "Heads they are pursing weapons; tails they're not, but either way we win!"

or, I looooove this intelligence!!!!


Comments (4)

What is important in assess... (Below threshold)

What is important in assessing how truthful the Bush administration was is what information was presented to them. What did it say in the NIE? What was the CIA giving to the White House? Were the DIA assessments given precedence, or were only the CIA assessments given to the White House?

The Democrats are once again cherry-picking the evidence instead of actually looking into it fully and transparently. If this is how the investigation into usage of pre-war intelligence is going to shape up, then I think the Democrats have just shot themselves in the foot.

You don't inspire confidence when you leak to the newspapers with cherry-picked information.

What is important is people... (Below threshold)
B Moe:

What is important is people understand the difference between fact and opinion and realize that truth is a matter of the former while the type of intelligence Kevin is alluding to is the latter.

Bush looked at a huge pile of circumstantial evidence, weighed it, made his opinion on what to do, then made his case to the people. It is not up to him to try to be fair and balanced and present all the intelligence available. If their is an opposition, they need to present the other side, the d'Emocrats on the Senate intel committee had all the same info and backed the President then.

Senator Levin has defined t... (Below threshold)
CrankyOldConservative:

Senator Levin has defined the art of cherry picking....in the course of only 8 months he completely flip flopped on which evidence he believes is correct....and what's fascinating is the fact that no-one has called him on it. I can't imagine what it must be like to be a liberal and just say what is convenient whenever it is convenient and never be questioned on it.

Stephen Hayes over at the W... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

Stephen Hayes over at the Weekly Standard dissected Levin and the NY Times report yesterday. It's worth the read.




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