The SSCI report is now online. You can obtain a copy of the 521 page report as a pdf file by clicking here. Since it will take me some time to read it, I thought I would begin by posting some of what I have already written. I intend to compare my forecasts with the SSCI report. You, my all to few, readers are welcome to join this effort.
The issue is important to me for a couple of reasons. First, I have an intuition that the intelligence community did not do its programmatic analysis properly. Second, an important discipline in Workplace Spirituality is "making the system work". In the case of Intelligence analysis of Iraqi WMD, the system did not work.
Even before the war began, I thought that the evidence was inadequate. Two weeks before the war I sent the following to my Senators and congressman:
"While I can conceive of situations in which a preemptive attack could be reconciled with the criterion of last resort, this would require a judgment that an attack is immanent. I do not believe that the government has made this case. Possession of a weapon, even a weapon of mass destruction, does not indicate that a military organization is prepared to use it. This would require testing, development of tactics and organization, and training, before deployment. If the Iraqi military has gone through this process, I have not seen evidence of it. Therefore, I do not believe that the Iraqi military use of mass destruction weapons is immanent. This does not mean that we should ignore the danger, it just means that all measures short of war (credible threat of force, inspections, and diplomacy) are what is required at the moment. Up until now, this is just what Bush is doing."
On February 3, Washington Post published this letter.
"...It is unclear whether the administration analyzed Iraqi programs in terms of milestones. Administration statements (including the October 2002 NIE) do not show that the Iraqi military had tested, deployed and trained to use WMD in the past decade. Therefore, the military threat did not seem imminent...."
On March 29, 2004 I posted the following:
Thomas Friedman in the New York Times made this point on Sunday. Even if we had had perfect intelligence, we lacked the imagination to put the pieces together. This was true about 9/11, Pearl Harbor, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and many other intelligence failures. Sidney Finkelstein has explored the disastrous impact of mindset in the business world. … The real heroes are the people who challenge the institutional mindset, telling the institution that if it is not true to its mission, bad things will happen.
On April 12 I posted:
“Hindsight”, according to an old Virginia proverb, “is better than foresight by a darn-sight”. Richard Clarke, Condelezza Rice, and the entire intelligence community, would agree. .. Warning officers soon learn Fiedler’s second law of forecasting: "those who live by the crystal ball soon learn to eat ground glass.”
Of necessity, warnings are always based on incomplete evidence. To be successful, a warning must meet the following conditions:
• The officer must be convinced that the warning is valid.
• The officer must be convincing in manner and substance when delivering the warning.
• The warning must be timely
• The Chief Executive must be convinced that the warning is valid.
If these four conditions had been met, either the Clinton or Bush administration could have prevented 9/11.
Failure to perceive and act on warning is not confined to government or the church. In his book, Why Smart Executives Fail, Business professor Sidney Finkelstein examined forty cases of business failure. The executives, he suggests, failed not because they were stupid, dishonest, or lazy but because:
• of a flawed mindset that distorted a company’s perception of reality
• delusional attitudes that kept this inaccurate reality in place
• breakdowns in communications systems developed to handle potentially urgent information.
• leadership qualities that kept a company’s executives from correcting their course.
Dr. Rice correctly testified that institutions rarely reform until after a major tragedy. It took the experience of Vietnam and the 1983 bombing of a Marine Corps barracks in Lebanon to generate the Goldwater Nichols Defense Reform act of 1986. The 9/11 commission hearings run the risk of allowing political debate over “who is to blame” to overwhelm the need for focus on long needed institutional reforms in our national security establishment."
May 7, 2003 I filed my Observer column:
Speaking at the University of Virgnia’s Miller Center on May 4, David Kay detailed lessons learned and unlearned from the search for Weapons of Mass destruction in Iraq. Dr. Kay was special advisor to the Director of Central Intelligence and UN’s Chief Nuclear Weapons Inspector. …
"Kay then asked, why did we get it wrong and what does that tell us about the future? There were three reasons for our failure.
First, there was Iraq’s continuing deceptive behavior. After the war, this deception was uncovered when Iraqi officials said that they did not disclose to UN inspectors for fear of Saddam. He destroyed the weapons on the theory that they were too easy for UN inspectors to discover. …
The Iraqi émigré community, and the defectors, understood that they and the US shared a common, vital interest: eliminating Saddam and installing a new regime. They also understood that the US would be more likely to go to war if it was convinced that Iraq had an arsenal of WMD.
Third, intelligence failed because “we connected the dots” without continuing to “collect more dots”. …
During the cold war, our ability to understand the Soviet viewpoint and intentions continuously improved. After Sputnik, the government funded extensive education programs in science and technology. Universities developed major programs in Soviet and eastern European studies. Major newspapers had correspondents in Moscow. As a result, the country had a broad and deep knowledge base concerning Soviet behavior and intentions.
In contrast, the knowledge base of Arabic languages, Islam and the Middle East is shallow. Given the lack of human intelligence sources and an understanding the Arabic viewpoint, surprise is almost inevitable."
On May 16 I posted:
David Kay spoke at Harvard in March on how Intelligence Failure, not Deception, led to war. He covered some ground that I omitted in my Observer article on his May 4 talk at the University of Virginia. At Harvard, the former U.S. weapons inspector covered this point:
"Instead of having those weapons, Kay said, Hussein behaved as if he did in order to suppress domestic enemies among the Kurds in the north, whom Hussein had gassed, and the Shiites in the south, whom Hussein had brutalized when they rose up in Basra.