February 3, 2007

Is the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq Politicized?

That's the question the Democratic Congress must answer. They must call hearings, examine the process and actors who had editorial control, and also interview lower level staff to determine whether there is any political spin in the assessment.

There is ample evidence that politicization occured in the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq that was developed prior to the 2003 US invasion. For example, Robert Dryfus, and others, exposed the Pentagon's system of short-circuiting the formal chain of intelligence designed to inform the President (The Lie Factory). John Negroponte, who served as the first Director of National Intelligence while this NIE was under development, is a netorious political operator who effectively led America's dirty wars involving death squads in Cenral America during the 1980s.

Current Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who could have influenced the final touches on the NIE, also has a history of bending to political will during his tenure as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). In 1985 Gates was both deputy director of CIA, and chairman of the National Inelligence Committee (NIC) that drafted the Iran NIE. Having a political director position serve as chair creates the opportunity for politicization. Jennifer Glaudemans, A former CIA analyst on the 1985 Iran NIE, said that, "Now, not since he held that position has anyone ever yet again held a conflict of interest position of holding those two jobs." She also said, "...the CIA never took a footnote to an estimate, could not dissent to an estimate, as long as Mr. Gates was also the chairman of the NIC." [1]

Glaudemans explains, "What happened in the Third World Activities Division [of the CIA] was analytical judgments were put out as [intelligence] community view in estimates or as CIA view, for which there was no evidence. The Iran estimate in 1985 is just a classic example of that, and one I was personally involved with. There was no evidence to support the key judgment about the Soviets in that Iranian estimate. There was a ton of evidence that contradicted that. So it’s not a question of a young junior analyst not getting her view taken, it was a question of evidence versus no evidence." [1]

According to Glaudemans, "there was an Inspector General investigation. Many analysts, not just myself, many managers -- I think everyone in the Office of Soviet Analysis was interviewed. And one of the judgments of that IG report was that the perception of politicization of analysis was pervasive." This isn't directed solely at Gates, but is another demonstration that intelligence findings are subject to politicization.

Given the track record of the current administration, it is highly likely the current Iraq NIE is politicized. Given the high stakes, the Democratic Congress must investigate that question.

You can help make that happen by contacting Congress and by raising the question with media outlets.

Write the US House of Representatives
Write the US Senate
Write the Major Media Outlets


[1] DemocracyNow! December 5, 2006. Interview of Jennifer Glaudemans and Ray McGovern


Simmons said...

It is politicized. There's no question. Money and politics play too much of role in todays government

nocturnal scribe said...

Absolutely correct!