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Intelligence Crisis And Bush Admin’s Immorality

Intelligence Crisis And Bush Administration’s Immorality

By M. A. Muqtedar Khan
Director of International Studies, Adrian College

I watched President Bush’s hour-long interview with Tim Russet on NBC (02.07.04), with great patience. You have to be patient while the President processes questions and occasionally tries to answer one, after the interviewer has asked the same question in many different forms. I had enough time to go to the kitchen and get a cup of tea while the President figured out the distinction between “war of choice” and “war of necessity.”

On the issue of Iraq, the President agrees that no weapons of mass destruction have been found. Hans Blix and the UN inspectors had argued before the war that there were no weapons to find, David Kay a veteran weapons inspector from Texas who contributed to President Bush’s campaign in 2000, has now confirmed the findings of UN inspectors. The President now argues that the intelligence on Iraq’s weapons “stockpiles” was not very good and he had to make a tough decision based on limited intelligence (about the weapons of course). But the President continues to believe that they existed and may still be found.

This is the most surreal part of the interview and the administrations’ rhetoric. The President agrees that the intelligence prior to the war was weak. He agrees that no evidence has been found to support his pre-war claims, but he still believes that those weapons existed and will be found. Based on what? Donald Rumsfeld who told the Congress before the war that he knew were the weapons were stashed, continues to claim that they will be found.

What is the source of this information that prompts President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld to maintain that the weapons existed and will be found?

Do they share the same psychic?

Recently George Tenet, the Director of CIA, in a speech at our alma mater (Georgetown) spoke like a Zen master. He said that in the intelligence business the information was “never completely wrong nor completely right,” and in the case of Iraq’s weapons, he prophesied that this would also be true. We need more info to prove that the CIA was never completely right and never completely wrong (Surely they must have spelled Iraq and Saddam Hussein correctly in their reports)? For an administration top heavy with born again Christians who take pride in believing in absolute rights and absolute wrongs, the Bush administration is proving quite adept at dancing in the gray.

The facts that have emerged so far are clear. Iraq not only did not have weapons of mass destruction but also did not have any means to deliver them. To paraphrase George Tenet, Iraq did not present an imminent danger to the US.

Even if we gave George Bush the maximum benefit of doubt and excluded the possibility that he or his administration deliberately lied to the American people in order to make a war of choice a war of necessity, there is something rotten in the state of Denmark.

The most frightening aspect of the intelligence drama is the insistence of administration that the weapons will be found even in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary. There is only one explanation for this “twilight zone” moment of the Bush administration. Perhaps they believe that regardless of reality and facts and evidence and proofs, their constituency will still vote for them in November 2004. As long as they say what “sounds right,” they have nothing to fear. Clearly it is not on any intelligence, but rather a disregard for it in the minds of many American voters that inspires such confidence from the administration. If I am correct then it is a sad day for American democracy if neither the leaders nor the voters care for accountability.

This administration promised moral clarity when it took office. Morality could not be murkier than it is at the moment. The sham commission appointed to investigate the intelligence failure on Iraqi weapons will not report until after the elections, effectively giving Bush a pass on his role in the use and abuse of intelligence data. The media is afraid to ask more serious questions. How can George Tenet now claim that intelligence in general is never completely right after having reassured members of Congress that the weapons did exist. Rumsfeld lied to the Congress when he said that he knew where they were. Is anyone going to hold him accountable? The Vice President Dick Cheney continues to act as if the world has neither intelligence nor memory as he continues to stick with his spurious pre-war rationale.

The intelligence crisis also underscores the dangerous aspect of the “preemptive doctrine” which has clearly failed its first test. Preemption depends on ironclad intelligence. If the Director of CIA believes that intelligence is always suspect, then the right thing to do is to abandon the ugly doctrine immediately before this President launches another crusade of choice, disguised as a just war of necessity.


Muqtedar Khan is Director of International Studies at Adrian College and the author of American Muslims: Bridging Faith and Freedom. His website is :

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