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Monday, May 03, 2004

Inspiring Fear

I'm behind, as usual, on reading the print media that comes into my home, so I only yesterday read Jason Vest's piece on the intelligence community in the April American Prospect .

A lot of it was familiar, but I wanted to save this bit of reporting:
At least one confidant of Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz's was unabashed about the real agenda. At a friendly March 2003 brunch with several journalists, Wolfowitz's adjunct minced no words: "Everyone knows this isn't about weapons of mass destruction but about regime change." Everyone inside the Beltway, perhaps. But, as a senior intelligence official generally sympathetic to the administration told me late last year, after September 11, it was easier to build a case for war around weapons of mass destruction and links to al-Qaeda. "You certainly could have made strong cases that regime change was a logical part of the war on terrorism, given Baghdad's historic terror ties," he said. "But that didn't have enough resonance. You needed something that inspired fear."
Too bad the quote wasn't on the record.

Vest also helps explain the muddle that is the intelligence organization:
As it stands now, the person many think of only as the CIA director has, in fact, two roles: director of the Central Intelligence Agency and director of central intelligence. In theory, the director of central intelligence has ultimate authority over every U.S. intelligence agency, including the three with the largest budgets -- the National Security Agency (NSA, signals intelligence), the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO, the spy-satellite maintainers), and the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA, the eyes in the sky). Budget control over those three agencies, however, lies not with the director of central intelligence but with the Pentagon -- whose own intelligence agencies, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the individual armed services' agencies, exist primarily to gather tactical intelligence for military operations.
Who would organize information-gathering and analysis in such a manner?

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