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Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Senator Pat Roberts at K-State

Kansas Senator Pat Roberts is both a Republican and a graduate of Kansas State University. He's also been serving as the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Those data points make me a likely opponent on many grounds -- my readers know that I'm quite skeptical about the way the "establishment" viewed the Iraq intelligence, I'm anti-Republican, in general, and I'm a former grad of the University of Kansas (Rock Chalk Jayhawk, KU!).

Yesterday, however, Senator Roberts gave an interesting talk at K-State that bears some scrutiny.

Of course, Roberts includes a lot of political boilerplate in this speech that is not worth examining. He says that Bush finally stood up to the terrorists (who wouldn't, after 9/11?), that America is a global custodian of freedom (elected by? and where have new democracies emerged from the Bush Doctrine?), and that the choice is currently between appeasement and action (that's a knee slapper, actually).

So why am I referencing this speech?

First, consider what he said about the pre-war Iraq WMD intelligence:
The problem is, the information was wrong.
Some Bush supporters, of course, refuse even to acknowledge this basic fact.

Roberts says the French, UN, Russians, Germans, Democrats, Congress, and White House were all fooled prior to the war in Iraq. Everyone thought Iraq had WMD.

So why was everyone so wrong? Roberts said:
While I cannot say too much about the report’s findings in this forum because it is still a highly classified document, I can tell you that our report does not paint a flattering picture of the performance of our Intelligence Community as they developed their pre-war assessments.

...It is my view this was clearly an intelligence failure as opposed to alleged manipulation....We need to get the full story of denial, deception and status, but it is unlikely that we are going to find stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq as was predicted by U.S. intelligence.
The declassified version is supposed to come out in June. Apparently, the Committee compared intelligence reports with political statements to see if anyone was over the line. I'm looking forward to that.

Roberts goes through and lists a number of intelligence reforms recommended by Congress that have already been implemented since 9/11 (12 of 19). Still, he is upset that no one within the intelligence community has been held accountable for the failings. And he calls for additional administrative changes that might affect intell analysis.

Still, nothing exciting.

Here's his solid shot at the neocons:
However, with all of this talk about preemption, I do have a word of caution and warning. Whether or not the United States views itself as an empire, it is obvious that for many foreigners and international critics, we look, walk and talk like one and they have responded accordingly.

An empire that displays weakness and is not taken seriously is in serious trouble. However, being perceived as capricious or imperious is also dangerous. The problem has often occurred when an imperial power insists on imposing a particular vision on the world.

It seems to me that in fighting the global war against terrorism, we need to restrain what are growing U.S. messianic instincts – a sort of global social engineering where the United States feels it is both entitled and obligated to promote democracy – by force if necessary.

Again, the United States must be willing to use force, unilaterally if necessary to protect our security and that of our allies. But, it is also time for some hard headed assessment of American interests.
Now that's newsworthy.

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