Saturday, February 10, 2007

Dangerous connect-the-dots intelligence rears its ugly head again

If you thought the "intelligence" that got us into the Iraq quagmire was really bad, we are now seeing a replay of the same horribly misguided "connect the dots" approach used with regard to what role Iran may be playing in the Iraq "insurgency."

Before I go on, let me remind you that we wouldn't be seeing this "insurgency" if the U.S. hadn't created the Iraq quagmire in the first place. Iran is no angel, but blaming Iran for the insurgency is a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black.

In an article in The New York Times by Michael Gordon entitled "Deadliest Bomb in Iraq Is Made by Iran, U.S. Says" the U.S. appear to be placing a misguided degree of emphasis on an alleged role of Iran in the Iraq insurgency. The essence of the "connect the dots" intelligence ruse is to take a lot shopping list of small or vague or dubious fragments of evidence and assertions and then start making very strong statements that are far out of proportion to the loose and weak nature of the underlying "evidence". The proponents of connect-the-dots intelligence are counting on raw emotion and passion to make up for the lack of any conclusive, hard evidence. Sure, occasionally they have alleged hard evidence, but all to often they simply are refusing alternative explanations or depending on exaggerated extrapolations to give the illusion of a strong claim based on minimal or vague evidence.

To be sure, I wouldn't be surprised if quite a number of Iranians were involved in Iran, but the leap from being Iranian to hard evidence that the individuals are acting at the direction of the Iranian government is quite a leap. The key question is whether the evidence justifies that leap. Given the record of the intelligence agencies before the invasion of Iraq, one would be best advised to maintain a skeptical ear. The connect-the-dots strategy for "intelligence" is simply not credible.

In the Times article we find all manner of weasel words that scream out at us about the weak nature of the "proof" of Iran's involvement in Iraq. To wit:

  1. "... United States intelligence asserts ..."
  2. "... The assertion of an Iranian role  ..."
  3. "... although officials acknowledge that the picture is not entirely complete ..."
  4. "... provided specific details to support what until now has been a more generally worded claim ..."
  5. "... Any assertion of an Iranian contribution ..."
  6. "... The officials said they were not trying to lay the basis for an American attack on Iran."
  7. "... Administration officials said they recognized that intelligence failures related to prewar American claims about Iraq’s weapons arsenal could make critics skeptical about the American claims."
  8. "... The link that American intelligence has drawn to Iran ..."
  9. ".. militants believed to be working at the behest of Tehran."
  10. "... what intelligence agencies regard as an increasing body of evidence pointing to an Iranian link ..."
  11. "... Some American intelligence experts believe ..."
  12. "... All source reporting since 2004 indicates ..."
  13. "... Iran is assessed ..."
  14. "... The likely aim is  ..."
  15. "... Other officials believe ..."
  16. "... Iranians are also believed ..."
  17. "... Assessments by American intelligence agencies say ..."
  18. "... adding to the view that the device is an Iranian-supplied and Shiite-employed weapon ..."

Once again we are faced with political masters who have a pre-determined conclusion and agenda and are seeking to "fix" the intelligence around that view.

Why would they do this again when they know how bad things turned out last time? Simple: It worked before. Sure, their public claims were proven false, but that had the opportunity to pursue their real agenda. The Democrats in Congress continue to be asleep at the wheel and appear to be once again poised to accept this connect-the-dots form of "intelligence" to set American foreign policy.

-- Jack Krupansky


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