Saturday, October 04, 2003

"This whole case just seems really weird. I thought the idea post 9-11 was to recruit more agents. But this whole thing seems to send the message that if you don't do what the White House likes, your cover will be blown." So writes Doug Arellanes in my comments section about the Wilson-Plame-CIA affair.

Actually, I think The Wall Street Journal's editorial on this subject ("'Stupid' Intelligence: Some of our spooks simply oppose Bush administration antiterror policy") pretty much sums up the attitude of the White House toward the CIA.

The CIA fell asleep at the wheel, goes the thinking; therefore the Agency should be shuttered, its employees exposed as the dupes that they are, and so on. Truth is, I didn't believe it could possibly be that simple until I read the WSJ's editorial.

Thank god we're finally arguing about the CIA out in the open, says the WSJ. Except the paper has neither facts nor reason on its side.

To be fair, the WSJ scores a few decent hits: Intelligence entails gathering evidence and presenting it to elected policy makers, who do with it what they please. The entire process, start to finish, is politicized by its very nature.

And then the WSJ editors crash and burn, big time. Take this one: Calling attention to a number of wrong-headed positions adopted by CIA big-wigs, they write that

current senior CIA official Paul Pillar wrote shortly before 9/11 that counterterrorism should not be viewed as a 'war' we can hope to win, but more like 'the effort by public-health authorities to control communicable diseases' or improve 'highway safety.' He also reportedly assailed Mr. Bush's Iraq policy in a public appearance earlier this year at Johns Hopkins. This is precisely the mindset that failed to prevent September 11.
Am I missing something? Because this sounds like the stupidest thing one could possibly say to advance an argument. What are they saying? That one day we'll actually win the War on Terror and they'll be no more terrorists? Sort of like that time we declared War on Drugs and eradicated all drugs? Or that time inflicted so much damage on Poverty that it signed an unconditional surrender?

There will always be bad people in this world who blow shit up and kill innocent people. Of all people, I'd expected hard-nosed conservatives like WSJ's editors to come out and say this. In other words, we'll never "win" the War on Terror. The best we can do is reduce the threat to an acceptable level and keep it there. Yes, sort of like highway accidents and diseases. Please, if you disagree with this in any way, come right out and define what would constitute "victory" in the WOT.

Link via Josh Marshall. You can rightfully chide him for banging the same points over and over again (and like Steve, chide me for almost always taking his side) but yesterday he wrote one of the most revealing posts that I've seen on the subject.


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