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Health Care & Environment
11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]
11.15 The long read: The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]
11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]
11.12 This Land is Your Land: The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Trump responds to worst fires in California’s history by threatening to withhold federal aid [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Interior department sued for ‘secretive process’ in at-risk species assessment [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Keystone XL pipeline: judge rules government 'jumped the gun' and orders halt [behaving ignorantly again...]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
11.16 As 'Green New Deal' Demand Grows, Democrats Have Choice: Confront and Defeat Fossil Fuel Industry or Take Credit for 'Doomed' Planet [Two choices: Save life-on-Earth or help Republicans let it die?]
11.15 Democrats Won Big. Can They Go Bold, Too? [it's about suppressing the influence and leadership by Republican-like Democrats who counsel 'íncremental' (no) change, such as Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Shumer and Joe Biden]
11.15 Pentagon Officials Forced to Make Fewer Public Appearances to Avoid Provoking Trump [...by revealing Trump's huuuge ignorance]
11.15 REPUBLICANS USED A BILL ABOUT WOLVES TO AVOID A VOTE ON YEMEN WAR [if there are 'defense industry' profits to be made—including congress-critter insider-trading—and political 'donations' to be had, we mustn't stop killing innocent civilians!]
11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
11.16 Amazon’s HQ2 Will Get a Tax Break Designed to Help the Poor [a Republican program that directly helps participating wealthy companies—but only helps workers if and when 'trickle-down' occurs.]
11.16 Trump doesn’t want to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi. His new sanctions prove it. [George W. Bush made a similar immoral decision for the same oily reasons after 9-11, protecting Saudi defense contracts while facilitating the slaughter of poorer Arab "terrorists" in the region.]
11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]
International & Futurism
11.15 Cuba to pull doctors out of Brazil after President-elect Bolsonaro comments [terms must be negotiated for fairness to Cuba's health professionals without disruption of healthcare for Brazil's poor]
11.14 'Appalling' Khashoggi audio shocked Saudi intelligence – Erdogan [Exposing a psychopath?]
AGENCIES MADE UNPROFESSIONAL; COMMITTED ONLY TO PLEASE NEOCONS:
Another Bush Intelligence Failure6 April 2009
Add to the list of President George W. Bush’s failures his inability to straighten out what he regarded as one of the top national security needs, a more effective U.S. intelligence community.
Despite upping the U.S. intelligence budget to $45 billion from about $30 billion – and signing legislation in 2005 meant to end “turf” battles – Bush left behind an intelligence community suffering from poor communications among agencies and a flawed management structure, according to an inspector general’s report finished in November and released last week.
Instead of creating a streamlined and efficient intelligence community, the changes that Bush oversaw appear simply to have added a new layer of bureaucracy – the Director of National Intelligence – on top of the earlier system whose shortcomings contributed to intelligence failures around the 9/11 attacks and the bogus assessments on Iraq’s WMD stockpiles.
The findings of the DNI’s inspector general also undercut former Vice President Dick Cheney’s assertions that the Bush administration made great strides in keeping the country safe from terrorist attacks and that President Barack Obama’s reversal of some key policies has put the nation at risk.
In a March 15 interview with CNN’s John King, Cheney said Obama had made the country less safe by moving to close the Guantanamo prison, shuttering CIA “black sites” where detainees were interrogated, limiting CIA interrogators to tactics from the Army Field Manual, defining waterboarding as torture, suspending the military commissions, and junking the “war on terror” concept.
Cheney also insisted that there exists a classified report listing all the planned terrorist attacks that were supposedly thwarted by extracting information from al-Qaeda and other “war on terror” suspects through “enhanced interrogation techniques" and from other intelligence gathering.
Nuts and Bolts
However, the November 2008 inspector general’s report to the Director of National Intelligence indicates that while the Bush-Cheney administration pursued its aggressive tactics – torturing suspects, putting warrantless wiretaps on Americans, invading Iraq and creating an imperial presidency – it was ignoring the nuts and bolts of improving U.S. intelligence.
The IG report found that computer systems supposedly connecting the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies remain “largely disconnected and incompatible.”
For instance, the IG report found that computer systems supposedly connecting the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies remain “largely disconnected and incompatible.” The “turf” battles also continue, with “few, if any, consequences for failure to collaborate,” the report said.
The IG also concluded that the DNI spends too much time briefing the President rather than managing the intelligence bureaucracy – and that officials inside the DNI still grapple with what their role is supposed to be.
Also implicit in the report is vindication for critics of the 9/11 Commission who questioned whether the creation of the new DNI post – as the commission recommended – would do much to address the politicization of the U.S. intelligence community, which lost its old commitment to objective analysis under the ideological and political pressures of the 1980s and 1990s.
In earlier days, the U.S. intelligence ethos was to provide objective information to the policymakers with “the bark on.” However, during Ronald Reagan’s presidency – and especially under the reign of CIA Director Bill Casey and his deputy Robert Gates – that traditional ethos was broken down, replaced by a more compliant, finger-to-the-wind style of analysis.
For instance, when the Reagan administration wanted to justify major increases in military spending in the 1980s, Casey and Gates purged the CIA’s Moscow specialists who were detecting dramatic signs of Soviet decline and promoted more malleable analysts who were willing to issue alarmist projections about Soviet capabilities and intent.
The politicization worked so well that the CIA’s Soviet division largely “missed” the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. [For details, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege.]
A New Culture
In 1993, when President Bill Clinton ignored this cultural change at the CIA – indeed he deepened it by treating the CIA directorship as something of a patronage plum to be awarded to Democratic neoconservatives who wanted the job for their favorite James Woolsey – the Casey-Gates politicization became institutionalized.
So, it was not surprising that when Clinton left office in 2001, George W. Bush inherited as CIA director George Tenet, a back-slapping former congressional aide who had risen through the ranks on Capitol Hill by serving the needs of his political mentors.
Though Tenet did press on President Bush the growing threat from al-Qaeda – especially in the President's Daily Brief entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US” – the CIA director also was careful not to wear out his welcome by confronting Bush too directly.
After failing to thwart the 9/11 attacks, Tenet was so thankful to Bush for not firing him that Tenet helpfully promoted false and dubious intelligence to justify Bush’s desire to invade Iraq, famously telling Bush that the Iraq-WMD case was a “slam dunk.”
Despite these two intelligence disasters, the bipartisan 9/11 Commission operated within its own narrow concept of what was politically acceptable, meaning that it couldn’t very easily decry the politicization that Ronald Reagan molded and Bill Clinton hardened.
Instead, the commission recommended putting a new bureaucratic box on top of the old flow chart. After all, addressing an institutional culture – in this case, politicization – is much tougher. It would have required rehabilitating many old CIA hands who refused to go with the flow and removing the younger generation which had learned how to play ball.
The quality of U.S. intelligence will improve only if analysts are committed to telling the truth rather than saying what politicians want to hear.
So, the post of DNI was born, essentially replacing the CIA director as the head of the U.S. intelligence community. But the quality of U.S. intelligence will improve only if analysts are committed to telling the truth rather than saying what politicians want to hear.
And the first major attempt by President Obama’s DNI, Dennis Blair, to select a top analyst who didn’t fear speaking truth to power ended up with that choice, former U.S. Ambassador Charles “Chas” Freeman, effectively being blackballed by the Israel Lobby and its many supporters in the Washington press corps and on Capitol Hill.
However, as the inspector general’s report makes clear, the U.S. intelligence community needs more than just a bureaucratic reshuffling – or reliance on dubious Bush-Cheney methods – to protect the nation. There must be a serious commitment to doing the job right.
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there. Or go to Amazon.com.
This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
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This story was published on April 7, 2009.