Once George Tenet announced his resignation, it didn’t take a political genius to figure out that the upcoming reports on intelligence failures would target the CIA. It also shouldn’t come as much of surprise that the part of the report that offers analysis of how the Bush administration extracted, used and/or misused the intelligence will not be ready until well after the election.
U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Vice Chairman John D. Rockefeller described the prewar intelligence assessments as “one of the most devastating intelligence failures in the history of the nation. We in Congress would not have authorized that war with 75 votes if we knew what we know now. Leading up to September 11, our government didn’t connect the dots. In Iraq, we are even more culpable because the dots themselves never existed. Tragically, the intelligence failures set forth in this report will affect our national security for generations to come. Our credibility is diminished. Our standing in the world has never been lower. We have fostered a deep hatred of Americans in the Muslim world, and that will grow. As a direct consequence, our nation is more vulnerable today than ever before.”
Let’s take politics out of this for a second. After all, it’s not just Republican or Democrat soldiers in Iraq right now. And threats to our national security are decidedly non-partisan.
There are plenty of partisan questions left to ask. Did the Bush administration knowingly exaggerate the threat? Were CIA officials pressured to skew the intelligence one way or another?
But I think there is an even more critical non-partisan question to be asked:
Shouldn’t we rigorously examine the intelligence on which we are basing life and death decisions before we actually go to war instead of beginning those examinations after the fact?
Isn’t that the point of checks and balances and oversight committees? Shouldn’t Congress completely vet the facts before authorizing a president to go to war?