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Preview: RealClearPolitics - Articles - Greg Richards

RealClearPolitics - Articles - Greg Richards





Last Build Date: Fri, 16 Mar 2007 12:30:11 -0600

Copyright: Copyright 2007
 



Predicate for a Pardon

Fri, 16 Mar 2007 12:30:11 -0600

Cheney is a central figure in the program, as, indeed, he was in the build-up to the Iraq War. In the course of the program, there is this most interesting segment of clips from interviews with David Kay, the former weapons inspector, and Richard Clarke, the former White House anti-terrorism advisor. Neither man is regarded as an acolyte of the Administration. Frontline (PBS) "The Dark Side" (originally aired June 20, 2006) Section Two: "Behind Closed Doors" 05:15 into Section Two: Narrator voiceover "...but Cheney had no faith in the CIA." David Kay "I think there is one thing that influences him [Cheney], at least in our conversations. He remembered as clearly as I remembered how wrong intelligence had been in 1991." [emphasis added] Narrator voiceover "They had been wrong about the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Iranian revolution, Saddam's invasion of Kuwait, and more." Richard Clarke "There was a massive nuclear program in Iraq [in 1991], nuclear weapons development program, that was probably 9 - 18 months away from having its first nuclear weapon detonation. And that CIA had totally missed it. We had bombed everything we could bomb in Iraq, but missed an enormous nuclear weapons development facility; didn't know it was there; never dropped one bomb on it." [emphasis added] David Kay "That's at the forefront, at least in my conversations with him [Cheney], about Iraq. 'They were wrong before; they didn't get the evidence; how do we know what they know now?'" Richard Clarke "There's no doubt that the Dick Cheney that comes back into office eight years later - nine years later - has that as one of the things burned into his memory: that Iraq wants a nuclear weapon; Iraq was 'that close' (holding up thumb and forefinger) to getting a nuclear weapon; and CIA hadn't a clue." [emphasis added] The problem that the Administration faced after 9/11 was that intelligence was not providing an early-warning system for the nation on issues of weapons and attacks. This left the Administration essentially blind to what to expect next from the bad guys, particularly al-Qaeda, but by extension, any opponent that wished us ill. The significance of 9/11 from a strategic standpoint was that deterrence failed. Deterrence was the cork that kept the nuclear genie in the bottle during the Cold War. There were rules, and both we and the Soviet Union followed them - most especially, we didn't attack each other. The Russians didn't cross our quarantine of Cuba; we didn't bomb their ships in Haiphong harbor. But that arrangement with our enemies was nullified by the radical Islamic attack on the U.S. mainland on 9/11. And it is worthwhile reminding ourselves that the Capitol would also have been destroyed if the passengers on Flight 93 had not risen to heroic heights and brought the plane down. Once deterrence failed, Pandora's Box was opened from a strategic standpoint. Which brought back the primacy of intelligence - the necessity of knowing beforehand what the bad guys were planning. And we didn't know that. There has been some effort by the Left to portray Cheney's visits to Langley in the pursuit of intelligence on Iraq as part of some mysterious plot to manufacture evidence on the apparent assumption that no normal person would do what he did. But what else could he have done, given the inadequacy of the intelligence product? One of the unattractive aspects of a self-regarding bureaucracy is its ability to be unembarrassed by failing in its mission and being affronted by being called to account for it. Which is essentially the position the CIA has taken. Cheney was trying to find out if CIA analysts were up to their job and if so, to get them to do it, as they had not done it in failing to warn us of any of the previous attacks by al-Qaeda, whether the East Africa embassies, the Cole or 9/11. (And keep in mind the only reason there was still a Langley to go to was because the bad guys did not get hold of another plane!) And so we come to Joe Wilson's op[...]