The new Robb-Silberman
report on U.S. intelligence capabilities should, but won't, enrage Americans.
Too long at 600-plus pages for most to read, the report completes the destruction
of the intelligence community – especially the CIA – begun by Congress' Goss-Graham
inquiry and the wrong-headed, dissembling Kean-Hamilton Commission.
Like a French farce's final act, Robb and Silberman show the Republic is
run by men and women who will inflict any amount of pain on America to avoid
harming one of their own. This federal-level group amounts to an unaccountable,
murderously cynical aristocracy of power. Cowardly senior bureaucrats and policymakers
have failed to act on good intelligence or misused bad intelligence; congressional
oversight committees ask puerile questions – it's politically safer not to know
– and deceitful senior bureaucrats dutifully give non-answers; and presidents
abscond with the constitutional prerogative to declare war from the pliant,
derelict federal legislature.
The aristocracy's shamefulness came home to roost on 9/11 and in Iraq.
Those responsible reached for the most reliable of all whitewashers – the blue-ribbon
special commission. These panels have been stocked only with those who will
reliably chant: "We are not here to point fingers." Believing Americans
are inattentive yokels, the commissions take testimony, ignore or bury the truth,
and issue reports exculpating those who appointed them. What caused 3,000 dead
on 9/11; 1,500-plus dead in Iraq; the failure to eliminate bin Laden; and the
calamity-in-the-making of open borders and unenforced immigration laws? Why
the intelligence community's "structure," of course! Americans are
to believe that antiquated structure – an inanimate object – caused multiple
U.S. defeats. Case closed; aristocracy safe; and Americans – like Union troops
at Cold Harbor – pinning on name tags to identify their corpses after al-Qaeda's
The recent commissions have ensured federal officials – elected and appointed
– and their senior bureaucrats are inviolably protected by one rule: No one
is responsible for anything at anytime, ever. This phrase should be placed on
the Great Seal and used to prepare America's obituary. Though too late to make
a difference, let's review several "serious" problems Robb-Silberman
identify, but for which no one is responsible.
Dissent/debate not present in the intelligence community. This is not caused
by "structure." Leaders alone promote debate or suppress it. The
1996 report detailing al-Qaeda's state-like effort to acquire WMD was suppressed
for many months by senior CIA officers. They then wanted no debate on al-Qaeda's
CIA officers doubted primary Iraq WMD source "Curveball,"
and military analysts were skeptical of Iraq
having UAVs to disperse chemical or biological weapons. "Structure"
did not keep these analyses from the White House; senior managers did.
The FBI does not share information with the intelligence community.
Again, fault lies not with "structure," but with the astonishing,
pathetic, and perhaps negligent failure of Judge
Freeh and Mr.
Mueller to purchase a reliable computer system.
The intelligence community lacks the expertise on Islamic extremism
it had on the USSR. Is this a "structure" problem, or the failure
of three directors of central intelligence – Woolsey, Deutch, and Tenet –
who seem not to know the term "Islam" and mandated no training on
the issue? Also, why have we expanded the intelligence community if, as the
Robb-Silberman report says, there are no experts for thousands of new jobs?
No "red teams" – experts who simulate enemy forces – challenged
prewar intelligence on Iraq. "Structure" creates nothing; managers
create red teams. It is an aberration in community practice not to have had
Iraq intelligence red-teamed before the war. The absence of red teams means
intelligence community leaders knew the analytic answer they wanted, or were
told by administration officials the answer to deliver.
How's them apples? The Robb-Silberman report is the third coat of whitewash
meant to make Americans think effective intelligence reform is underway. The
commissions have produced institutional chaos and debilitating bureaucratic
growth, not movement toward reform that builds on intelligence-community strengths
and better defends America. In a successful effort to protect their patrons
in the aristocracy of power, the commissioners let the culpable escape. Worse,
they saddled America with the absurd intelligence community "structure"
demanded by the uninformed 9/11 families, installed by a Congress and president
who followed polls, not conscience, and led by many of the same bureaucrats
who got us to 9/11 and Iraq.
After the commissions' failures help al-Qaeda detonate a nuclear device
in the United States, Americans must ensure the next commission has individuals
animated by the spirit of those anti-aristocratic paragons, the Marx Brothers.
For Americans, trusting their children's and nation's future to Groucho, Chico,
Harpo, and Zeppo will be infinitely preferable and safer to relying on more
commissioners like Goss, Graham, Hamilton, Kean, Robb, and Silberman.