Thursday, July 12, 2007

Iraq: CIA paints a black picture

Bob Woodward reports in the Washington Post, that at a secret meeting in 2006, the CIA verdict on Iraq was that

...[CIA Director Michael V. Hayden said]"the inability of the government to govern seems irreversible," adding that he could not "point to any milestone or checkpoint where we can turn this thing around," 

 "The government is unable to govern," Hayden concluded. "We have spent a lot of energy and treasure creating a government that is balanced, and it cannot function."

Later in the interview, he qualified the statement somewhat: "A government that can govern, sustain and defend itself is not achievable," he said, "in the short term."

Hayden's bleak assessment, which came just a week after Republicans had lost control of Congress and Bush had dismissed Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, was a pivotal moment in the [Iraq] study group's intensive examination of the Iraq war, and it helped shape its conclusion in its final report that the situation in Iraq was "grave and deteriorating."


Among the 79 specific recommendations the Iraq Study Group made to Bush was withdrawing support for the Maliki government unless it showed "substantial progress" on security and national reconciliation. And it recommended changing the primary mission of U.S. forces from combat to training Iraqis so that combat units could be withdrawn by early 2008.


Hayden's description of Iraq's dysfunctional government provides some insight into the intelligence community's analysis of Maliki and the situation on the ground. Five days before his testimony, national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley had written a memo to Bush raising doubts about Maliki's ability to curb violence in Iraq, but his assessment was not as bleak as Hayden's.


Asked by former Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a member of the study group, if she was aware of the CIA's grim evaluation of Iraq, Rice replied, "We are aware of the dark assessment," but quickly added: "It is not without hope."

It gets worse...

But we knew all that already. Anyone who did not understand the nature of the disaster in Iraq, has to be deaf, dumb and blind. It is not just the Iraqi government, unfortunately, that is at fault. It is defective and amateurish US intelligence, and policy decisions that result in turning a blind eye to Syrian and Iranian meddling. It is defective US administration that keeps pouring money into a black hole, and more.

One small comfort - a CIA Intelligence estimate in 1947 insisted that the Jews would lose a war against the Arabs of Palestine, even though it also erroneously predicted that Arab states would not fight!

Ami Isseroff

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