Thursday, December 06, 2007

NIE: Bush Administration Reaps What Was Sowed

Frank Gaffney at NRO Saw It Coming Waaay Back
Two and a half years ago (July 01, 2005 to be precise), Frank Gaffney warned the Bush Administration about the perils of appointing State Department ‘diplomats’ to positions requiring Intelligence expertise in an New Republic Online article titled “Not a Time to be Diplomatic” (subtitle: “Wrong Man Wrong Job”).

I’ve been watching to see if anyone has referenced it in the wake of the release of the latest National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and have been very surprised that no one has mentioned it that I can see (somebody MUST have, but perhaps they’re on the edge of oblivion like this blog).

I wonder if Mr. Gaffney even remembers it or perhaps he is preparing an in depth “I told you so” article as I type.

In the 2005 article Gaffney opened with:
If you wondered whether the U.S. intelligence community could possibly perform even more dismally than it has of late with respect to various aspects of the terrorist and proliferation threat, the answer is now in. Even worse is in certain prospect if Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte goes forward with his reported offer to Ambassador Kenneth Brill to become director of the just-announced National Counter-Proliferation Center (NCPC).
While the article focuses on Brill, two other figures at the center of the brouhaha: Negroponte and Fingar.
Instead, the ambassador is a career foreign-service officer. So, of course, is Ambassador Negroponte. So is the DNI's deputy for analysis, Thomas Fingar. So is his deputy for management, Ambassador Patrick Kennedy.
Brill was evidently no ‘star’ at the IAEA:
So egregious was Brill's conduct, according to insiders, that not only the administration's advocates of robust counter-proliferation policies opposed his being given any subsequent posting, let alone a promotion. Even then-Secretary of State Colin Powell and his Deputy, Richard Armitage, strenuously objected to his conduct at the IAEA and refused to give him another assignment. But for his prospective rehabilitation by Amb. Negroponte, Ken Brill would presumably conclude his career in government with his present year-long sinecure at the National Defense University.
Gaffney concluded:
The last thing the United States needs at the pinnacle of the intelligence apparatus assigned to countering what is widely agreed to be the most dangerous threat of our time — the scourge and spread of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists and their state-sponsors — is someone whose past track record suggests that he misperceives the threat, opposes the use of effective techniques to counter it and is constitutionally disposed to accommodate rather than defeat the proliferators.
In determining the credibility of revised NIE Iranian WMD ‘judgment’, it is not unreasonable to examine the qualifications and ability of the people that are responsible to make such judgments. It seems to me that key people involved in this NIE have already been found wanting. And if the previously ‘high confidence’ NIE was wrong, what makes this NIE judgment more likely to be correct?

More importantly what are the consequences of being wrong this time?

Decoding the NIE doublespeak doesn’t do anything to inspire my confidence either.

I thought the intelligence apparatus was as broken as it could be, but I guess the Administration found the only way they could have made it worse: by moving in more pasty State Department boys.

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