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The real Iraq intelligence scandal


It amazes me that everyone is concerned about who to blame for the WMD intelligence scandal, but nobody is talking about the important intelligence scandal in Iraq. The WMD intelligence scandal is done and gone. Iraq apparently had no WMD. It is somewhat pointless to debate whether or not the US should have invaded Iraq given that they had no WMD, because we cannot play the tape of history back. However, while everyone is arguing about who knew what, and who suppressed what, and how anyone could be so stupid, nobody is discussing the real problem.

Continuing terror attacks in Iraq have claimed hundreds of lives, including several hundred US soldiers and many Iraqis. Yesterday's attacks claimed the lives of perhaps 200 or more people. The intelligence is so bad that nobody even knows the correct number of dead. The US puts it 117. The Iraqi Governing Council estimates 271 with 400 injured. It is apparent that US intelligence is more or less clueless about the origin of these attacks and powerless to stop them.

The attacks of 9-11, and the decision to pursue a war on terror, should have signalled to the US that it required a massive overhaul and build up of intelligence capabilities focused on the Middle East. A year and a half elapsed before the Iraq war, but virtually nothing was done apparently. The US grossly underestimated the problems of governing postwar Iraq. However, even after the problems were obvious, they did more or less nothing about them for a long period, and the US is still not really focusing on the intellgence problem.

As a result, the US has no real intelligence organization in Iraq, and is unlikely to get one any time soon. It is rumored, and hightly probable, that Saddam Hussein was in fact found by Kurds. In any case, he had been in the same location near Tikrit, his home village, for quite a while. It is a tribute to the incompetence of the CIA and US Army intelligence that it took so long to find him. After the capture of Saddam, the attacks continue practically unhindered, and coalition authorities seem to be powerless to detect them in advance or corner the people responsible for initiating them. If there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, could US intelligence find them?

As noted in an article in the Washington Post, The CIA station in Iraq, now the largest overseas office in the world, is still nowhere near adequate to deal with the job.

The attacks might be attributable to Al-Qaida . Then again they might not. According to the Post article:

Intelligence analysts say the insurgents, believed to include foreign fighters and Baathists loyal to former president Saddam Hussein, aim to incite factional violence and sabotage the U.S.-led political transition.

You don't say? And who else might the insurgents include? Nobody. "Foreign Fighters" might be anyone: Syrian Baath, Al-Qaida, and anyone who thinks they can bend the course of history to their will with a few bombs. The translation of the above is that the CIA is clueless.

Meanwhile the locals have their own theory. Like everything else that people don't like in the Middle East, the murders are blamed on the Americans and the Israelis. According to an Al-Jazeera article :

Dr Harith al-Dhari, secretary-general of the Association of Muslim Scholars, the highest Muslim
Sunni authority in Iraq, blamed foreign powers such as Israel for the attacks. He described the
attackers as those parties interested in plunging Iraq into civil war.

"Let us analyse the incident and find out who would benefit from such carnage," he said.

"No Iraqi is interested in perpetuating the state of chaos, but there are parties like the
occupation and Israel interested in prolonging the period of occupation.

"They know very well that civil war would make the life of the occupiers easier in Iraq."

Shaikh Jawad al-Khalisi (Shia), imam and preacher of al-Jawadain mosque in al-Kadhimiya, has said
the party who is tackling the security situation is to be blamed.

"When there is a security failure, the party responsible for security is to be blamed. And let us
ask ourselves, who has the capability of launching such bombs in these circumstances?

"What story should we believe, should we believe and blame the figure that the Americans are drawing
for us (Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi and al-Qaida fighters), or should we believe what we are seeing on the
ground every day?" he said.

"An Iraqi citizen would not attack a mosque, and a Muslim would not attack Muslims, these are red
lines in our people's ideology," he said.

The Iraqis find it hard to believe that the Americans and as disastrously incompetent at intelligence as they apparently are, and they are not alone. In an on-line Al-Jazeera Poll, 40% of respondents said that Israel and the USA had the most to gain from the attacks. Of course, the US has no interest in sabotaging its own mission in Iraq or in postponing the all-important June 30 changeover date, set by President Bush to allow the US to appear disengaged from Iraq by the time of the next elections in Novermber. And of course, Israel would have nothing to gain from such attacks. However, logic is not one of the strong points of Middle East rumors.

More likely culprits are the Syrians and Iranians, the Iraqi Baath and Al-Qaeda, all of whom have a stake in pushing the US out of Iraq and making the Middle East unsafe for democracy. Al-Qaeda has denied any involvement in the attacks in Iraq, including the latest one. Since they usually take "credit" for their terror attacks, we can put some credence in their denial.

In December, according to the Post article, after all those terror incidents and ambushes, the CIA finally figured out that things were not running so smoothly, and replaced the station chief with a more experienced man. But the 500 CIA personnel are not an adequate force to deal with all of Iraq. To cope with manpower shortages, the CIA has brought people out of retirement and hired private firms to provide security at bases, but it is not enough. ""They just have so much to do," a senior CIA official said, according to the Washington Post article. CIA officers do 90 day rotations during which they hardly have time to learn their jobs. Agency directives, sparked by security fears, force them to go around with troops of conspicuous armed body guards, hardly the sort of disguise needed for sleuthing.

The continuing acts of sabotage are threatening to make it impossible for any government to rule. Whoever is running them is interested not only in getting the US out of Iraq, but in provoking a totally unstable situation - turning Iraq into Lebanon of the 1980s, perhaps so that they themselves can intervene and take control. The result would be a disaster for the US and for states friendly to the US, and would, apparently, be blamed on the USA by most people in the Middle East.

Isn't it time the politicians stop worrying about yesterday's WMD intelligence mess and start tending to the real intelligence mess that is threatening to steal the fruits of victory from the US and destabilize the Middle East?

Ami Isseroff

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Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000215.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to mew-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.

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Replies: 1 Comment

As a mother and counselor,I taught my children,grandchildren,and cliants to use their words and not to hit, bite,or kick.Yet my country does,and other countries.We must learn to cooperate instead of the rule of lust and greed.Mankind was to rule over this sweet,sweet earth :instead we have raped and almost destroyed it.I pray that GOD will bless the heart of humanity.Sincerely,Jean Jones

Posted by jean jones @ 03/15/2004 03:49 AM CST

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