Sunday, December 10, 2006

An excerpt from Thomas Rick's Fiasco

Well, haven't posted for a while, which means I may have lost what readership I had. Sorry. The Thanksgiving holidays intervened with my time, and then you hit December and more time gets sucked away.

Anyway I finshed reading Thomas Ricks Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq . Reading this along with State of Denial will illuminate many things about the war in Iraq. I highly recommend reading Fiasco. Here is a bit from about the book:

"The main points of this hard-hitting indictment of the Iraq war have been made before, but seldom with such compelling specificity. In dovetailing critiques of the civilian and military leadership, Washington Post Pentagon correspondent Ricks (Making the Corps) contends that, under Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Feith, the Pentagon concocted "the worst war plan in American history," with insufficient troops and no thought for the invasion's aftermath. Thus, an under-manned, unprepared U.S. military stood by as chaos and insurgency took root, then responded with heavy-handed tactics that brutalized and alienated Iraqis. Based on extensive interviews with American soldiers and officers as well as first-hand reportage, Ricks's detailed, unsparing account of the occupation paints a woeful panorama of reckless firepower, mass arrests, humiliating home invasions, hostage-taking and abuse of detainees."

Then on page 408 we find this passage, which considering the occasion took place a few days short of two years ago are a devastating indictment of the 43rd President taking any action on what has turned out to be the truth back in 2004. It is slightly more than 4 paragraphs, but since I am recommending the book and citing it, I hope the powers that be don't get upset. Okay here goes:

"In December 2004, two unvarnished official reports hit the White House. The first was a somber assessment by the CIA station chief in Baghdad, at that point, the agency's largest station. Called an aardwolf in agency jargon, the assessment enjoys special status under CIA regulations. It cannot be edited by the ambassador, and it is delivered directly to the agency's director. Just a few other copies are distributed, and only to people at the top of the government, with recipents including the president, the secretaries of state and defense, and the national security advisor. "We face a vicious insurgency, we are going to have 2,000 dead, the CIA station chief's report stated, according to a senior U.S intelligence official with direct access to the document.

A few days later on December 17, 2004, according to a former senior administration official, President Bush received an extensive briefing on the situation from Army Colonel Derek Harvey, a senior U.S. intelligence expert on Iraq. Unlike most U.S. military intelligence officials involved in the region, Harvey understood Arabic, and also had a Ph.D in Islamic studies. He had a far less rosy few than what the president had been hearing. CIA and NCS officials who already had received the longer four-hour version of his briefing sat in. The insurgency was tougher than the American officials understood, Harvey told president according to three people present at the meeting. "It's robust, it's well led, it's diverse. Absent some sort of reconciliation it's going to go on, and that risks a civil war. They have the means to fight this for a long time, and they have a different sense of time than we do, and are willing to fight. They have better intelligence than we do." The insurgents had managed to mount about twenty-six thousand attacks against U.S. forces and Iraqis during 2004 and the trends weren't good.

The president wanted to know where Harvey was coming from. Who was he? And why should his minority view, so contrary to the official optimism, be believed. Harvey explained that he had spent a good amount of time in Iraq, that he had conversed repeatedly with insurgents, and had developed the belief that the U.S. intelligence effort there was deeply flawed.

The other officials present weren't entirely at ease with Col. Harvey and his perpective. " There was always the view that Harvey was a little bit over the top," especially in his certainty that he was right and everyone else was wrong, said a former senior administration official.

Okay, what about the Syrian role? the president asked.

One ot the CIA officials spoke up to say that his agency didn't see clear financing coming from Syria. The CIA had long thought that Harvey and other military intelligence figures were overemphasizing the role of Syria and foreign fighters in Iraq. No, Harvey bluntly responded with striking specificity, in fact , we do. "We see four different tracks of financing from Damascus. All to Ramadi, to the tune of $1.2 million a month. And it is based in a very Arab way, on relationships and shared experiences. And all the sigint [sinals intercept intelligence] isn't going to tell you that". But don't focus on the foreign fighters, Harvey told the president, breaking a bit with the orthodox view in military intelligence . We've zeroed in on them too much because our intelligence apparatus can intercept their communications. But they aren't at the core of the Iraqi insurgency, which is "the old Sunni oligarchy using religious nationalism as a motivating force. Thats it in a nutshell."

Its fairly easy to see that events in Iraq have unfolded exactly as Col. Harvey was saying they would back in December 2004.

At this point General Abizaid is saying give us 6 more months and perhaps 20,000 more troops, and the situation will get stabilized. More likely by then there will be 3,500 dead US soldiers, an additional 5,000 more wounded, and the civil war will be just as nasty as it is now.

Just another example of this Adminisration ignoring intelligence because it does not fit their idealogical notions, and then compounding their blunders. And also by late in 2007, their incompetence will likely cost us 3 quarters of a trillion dollars. Well, as the old Houston Post motto used to say, "Let facts be submitted to a candid World."

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