Note: I will deal with the Wilson-related judgment in a separate post. Suffice it to say it is valid in parts, swiss cheese in others, and a superb example of how, even in the minority, the Republicans are much better at gaming such reports than the Democrats. I'm personally shopping for a new SSCI Chair, as I'm convinced Rockefeller gets rolled anytime more than two Republicans get him in a room.
The reports declassified as part of the latest SSCI report are refreshing for the way they read like rational, sensible documents. As the report points out, some academics reviewed the reports and Tenet didn't ... you think there's a relationship between the different people involved here and the quality of the analysis?
In any case, the most interesting part of the report released yesterday is the comments. That's because, as DiFi points out in her own comment,
The "conclusions" presented in this report only serve to judgments made in the two ICAs. The Committee, in fact, has not done any analysis or concluded anything. This is in stark contrast to the July 2004 "Phase I" report and the two prior Phase II reports in which the Committee studied the facts and rendered its own judgments.
I am troubled that, even after analysis was removed from the report in an effort to forge unanimous support, a significant portion of the Committee's membership did not support the final report.
DiFi then provides the conclusion that the whole Committee should have adapted (particularly given the broad distribution these reports received).
The Committee has seen no evidence that government officials and decisionmakers appropriately considered and prepared for the difficulties in the postwar environment that were predicted by the Intelligence Community. The failure to act on this intelligence is a key contributing factor in the current situation in Iraq.
The substantive complaint against this report comes from Senators Bond, Warner, Hatch and Burr. They dismiss the overwhelming power of the report, firstly, by claiming it's alright if decisionmakers ignore our own Intelligence Community in favor of the propagandists at the AEI.
While the Intelligence Community's assessments on post-war Iraq likely served as useful tools for policy makers and military planners, it was only one of several useful tools available to it. Other tools included outside academics and experts, media reports, and policy makers' and military experts' own education and experience.
The Republican Senators go on at some length, trying to dismiss the sound analysis the two reports offered by pointing at tactical elements the reports didn't predict--like the use of IEDs. And then they reveal their hand with their biggest complaint: the inclusion of the distribution lists for the two report, showing everyone from Richard Armitage to John Bolton to Dougie Feith to Stephen Hadley to Scooter Libby received the reports (though Senators Hagel and Snowe voted with Democrats to release the distribution lists).
The inclusion of [the distribution lists] is misleading, because the names on such lists are typically either the principals, staff heads or the security managers of a governmental office and there is no way to ensure whether the individuals named on the distribution list actually read the documents sent to their office.
This is the same excuse that Condi has used repeatedly, that she may not have seen the explicit warnings sent to her not to use the Niger claim. Funny how everyone in the Administration seems to have ignored precisely the reports of value, but now they want to duck responsibility for having ignored those reports. (Though they do make an excellent point--that the Committees should have admitted that they, the Committee members, had received the reports as well. I will be calling Rockefeller's office--and probably Feingold, who doesn't usually do purely partisan things--to see if they've got a good explanation.)
In short, the Republicans offer a bunch of excuses that, in the private sector, would get someone canned. "I didn't read the reports I was supposed to." "I ignored the company's own intelligence for that which I preferred, but now I don't want to take responsibility for having made that choice."
But in the Bush White House, such excuses don't get you fired, they get you promoted.