"Faulty" Intelligence, Deliberate Deception and the Case for Due Process
By Anthony Barnes - August 15, 2006
Second Lt. Therrel "Shane" Childers, of Powell, Wyoming, was the archetype for the gung-ho American.
Childers joined the Army straight out of high school and later fought in the first Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm. Battled hardened by that experience, he subsequently joined the U.S. Marines where he was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, of the 1st Marine Division out of Camp Pendleton, California. From there, he eventually returned to fight in the current war in Iraq.
According to the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count (ICCC), when Childers was killed after sustaining a gunshot to the abdomen during a firefight at a pumping station in southern Iraq, he became the conflict's first casualty directly related to combat.
ICCC records further show that Childers was among a total of 6 U.S. servicemen who died from combat-related deaths on that day, March 21, 2003, including 4 who perished in a helicopter crash in Kuwait and a fifth killed by friendly fire. Since then, about 2600 U.S. service men and women have given their lives in the Bush Administration's preemptive war of choice known by the misleadingly euphemistic title of, "Operation Iraqi Freedom."
"Shock and awe"
When the Bush administration laid out its war plan for Iraq, among those plans were details for an overwhelmingly impressive "shock and awe" bombing campaign designed, in part, to display the ferocious firepower of the U.S. military in such a fashion as to eradicate all hope amongst the enemy, that victory was possible.
Now, over three years later, Operation Iraqi Freedom, which by December, will have lasted longer than "the war to end all wars," World War II, seems to have become that "Mother of All Wars" which Saddam Hussein defiantly predicted the U.S. and its allies would face in the first Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm.
With the release however, over the past few months, of several Iraq war-related books by a diverse collection of war historians, military experts, journalists, former Bush administration officials and others, books that detail the breathtaking incompetence of the administrations war planners, the "shock and awe," promised the Iraqis by the U.S. military appears instead, to have been visited on the American public.
Among these books include: "Night Draws Near: Iraq's People in the Shadow of America's War," by Pulitzer Prize winning Washington Post Reporter Anthony Shadid; "Squandered Victory: The American Occupation and the Bungled Effort to Bring Democracy to Iraq," by Stanford University professor Larry Diamond; "The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq," by The New Yorker Magazine staff writer George Packer; "Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq," by Thomas E. Ricks; and Washington Post Baghdad Bureau Chief Rajiv Chandrasekaran's soon to be released "Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone."
For many, the razor sharp insight provided by these on the ground and behind-the-scenes witnesses will amount to remarkably persuasive reading. There can be no questioning of the credentialed legitimacy of the reports provided by writers like Shadid, who chronicles the war from the perspective of Iraq's citizens; or Chandrasekaran, whose tome does the same, albeit from the perspective of the denizens of Baghdad's "Green Zone," and Ricks, whose story details the war's ludicrously conceived pre-planning from the viewpoint of high-ranking U.S. military personnel. But what may strike many as peculiar, is the delicately assiduous acquiescence by these writers, along with others who perhaps should know better, to the administration's claims that the debacle can be blamed solely on "intelligence failures" on the part of the intelligence apparatuses of the United States, Britain and other allies.
While at this point, it seems hardly surprising that such massive examples of incompetence would crop up in the administration of this president, what is more difficult to fathom is the widespread, perhaps subliminal acceptance by insiders of intelligence "failure" excuse/rational. Failures of this magnitude and sort often carry with them, the stench of deliberate cognizance.
As a result, a creepy sense of low-level frustration persists in this quarter toward those commentators who continue to soft-peddle this administration's acts through the use of such euphemistic terms as "intelligence failure" as opposed to say, "deliberate deception."
What part of this "intelligence failure" resulted in the infamous "Downing Street Memo" of 2002, which specifically spells out the need for intelligence to be "fixed around the policy" of an Iraq invasion. The precise wording of the paragraph in which "C" refers to the then head of M16 (the British Secret Intelligence Service), Sir Richard Billing Dearlove, is as follows:
"C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action."