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Wednesday, June 11, 2003
Speaking of the WMD "intelligence failure," Fareed Zakaria has a very good column about how that seems to be kind of a syndrome for the neo-con kids:
It all started with the now famous “Team B” exercise. During the early 1970s, hard-line conservatives pilloried the CIA for being soft on the Soviets. As a result, CIA Director George Bush agreed to allow a team of outside experts to look at the intelligence and come to their own conclusions. Team B—which included Paul Wolfowitz—produced a scathing report, claiming that the Soviet threat had been badly underestimated...The reality was that even the CIA’s own estimates—savaged as too low by Team B—were, in retrospect, gross exaggerations. In 1989, the CIA published an internal review of its threat assessments from 1974 to 1986 and came to the conclusion that every year it had “substantially overestimated” the Soviet threat along all dimensions.
In the 1990s, some of these same conservatives decided that China was the new enemy. The only problem was that China was still a Third World country and could hardly be seen as a grave threat to the United States. What followed was wild speculation about the size of the Chinese military and accusations that it had engaged in massive theft of American nuclear secrets. This came to a crescendo with the publication of the Cox Commission Report in 1999, which claimed that Chinese military spending was twice what the CIA estimated. The Cox report is replete with speculation, loose assumptions and errors of fact. The book it footnotes for its military-spending numbers, for example, does not say what the report claims.
Iraq is part of a pattern. In each of these cases, arguments about the threat posed by a country rest in large part on the character of the regime. The Team B report explains that the CIA’s analysis was flawed because it was based on too much “hard data”—meaning facts—and neglected to divine Soviet intentions. The Chinese regime is assumed to be a mortal danger because it is Leninist. Saddam was assumed to be working on a vast weapons program because he was an evil man.
The analysis was flawed because it used hard facts? Hee hee hee. That's some postmodern shit right there, Mr. Wolfowitz!