A Tale of Two Estimates
By streiff Posted in War — Comments (1) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
While earlier estimates dealing with Iraq were criticized for being pollyannish, this NIE is not without critical flaws. This NIE, to a great extent, represents the triumph of groupthink over evidence and politics over experience.
One would think that in the midst of the crystal ball- and belly button-gazing that comprises the document that the Director of National Intelligence could have spent a bit of energy in defining the enemy.
Oddly enough, this very issue was the subject of a vigorous dissent. In the end, twelve of the sixteen agencies contributing to the report concluded that AQIZ is virtually a spent force and the primary Sunni opposition are Ba’ath party revanchists and Sunni nationalists. Four agencies say that AQIZ has subsumed the Ba’ath and Sunni nationalist elements into its structure and that the primary Sunni enemy is AQIZ.
This is more than a semantic difference. If the majority opinion is correct the insurgency in al-Anbar can most effectively be brought under control via diplomacy. If the minority are right, then we will have to kill our way out of that problem.
The dissenters were Army intelligence, Marine intelligence, the Treasury agency that tracks terrorist funding and a wild card, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
Why would one think that the CIA, in particular, would hold a view opposite to the intelligence agencies who are actually working against that particular enemy?
In some ways, the majority view bolsters the argument that Iraq is not a central front in the war on Al Qaeda, making it politically easier to favor a precipitous withdrawal of American forces from the country. In this respect, it undermines President Bush's own recent arguments for his war strategy.
The CIA undermining the Administration? Perish the thought.