Staggering Ineptitude

Via Josh MarshallWarren Strobel and Jonathan Landay write for Knight Ridder,

U.S. intelligence agencies repeatedly warned the White House beginning more than two years ago that the insurgency in Iraq had deep local roots, was likely to worsen and could lead to civil war, according to former senior intelligence officials who helped craft the reports.

Among the warnings, Knight Ridder has learned, was a major study, called a National Intelligence Estimate, completed in October 2003 that concluded that the insurgency was fueled by local conditions – not foreign terrorists- and drew strength from deep grievances, including the presence of U.S. troops.

On the “Bush Policy Decision Process” flow chart, this is the familiar step of “Policy Decisions Made” inside a bubble. And no one with expertise or a diverse point of view is allowed inside the bubble.

The reports received a cool reception from Bush administration policymakers at the White House and the office of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, according to the former officials, who discussed them publicly for the first time.

President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld and others continued to describe the insurgency as a containable threat, posed mainly by former supporters of Saddam Hussein, criminals and non-Iraqi terrorists – even as the U.S. intelligence community was warning otherwise.

Most … incompetent … administration … in … U.S. … history …

Robert Hutchings, the chairman of the National Intelligence Council from 2003 to 2005, said the October 2003 study was part of a “steady stream” of dozens of intelligence reports warning Bush and his top lieutenants that the insurgency was intensifying and expanding.

“Frankly, senior officials simply weren’t ready to pay attention to analysis that didn’t conform to their own optimistic scenarios,” Hutchings said in a telephone interview.

Keep in mind Bush’s only response to any questions about his decisions: Trust me.

26 thoughts on “Staggering Ineptitude

  1. but you’d be a fool and a traitor to raise the possibility that these guys pulled this shit on purpose.

    it’s the most plausible explanation yet the least talked about one. why is that?

    nobody wants to face it because then they’d have to do something about it.

  2. I just can’t refrain from one last attempt. There is a part of me that feels compelled to say this. Sorry. I don’t know what posting this fits under. Call it, life.

    Maha, you have national attention now for your brilliant writing skills and quick mind. When I first joined you a week or so ago, I thought that this might be a forum where real dialogue could take place. Lately, though – every time I’ve poked my head inside, I hear mostly self-righteous, told-you-so ranting. Don’t get me wrong. The information you’re providing is invaluable. The analysis is superb. It’s the comments that drive me up the wall. What good are they doing? On a deeper level, we all “know” what has been going on. It’s not a surprise to most of us. And we all know that we have troubled times ahead.

    Please think about this. How did the civil rights movement make such gains? Think of the quiet dignity and calm resolution of people like Rosa Parks and MLK. And did Gandhi scream and yell? Would he have used a blog in this way? Would Lincoln? Think of what the potential is for a forum like this. Is there any forum for this anywhere? The “rabid right” might be on an ice flow heading out to sea, but can the “ranting left” reach out to the moderate majority? Moderates detest this kind of “throwing plates against the wall.” Can we reach CONSENSUS with any of them? If not, we’re going to find ourselves standing on the shore alone and wondering why – again. And time and life are too precious and short for this.
    And if our side looks like it might be “winning” we should not jump on people when they’re down. We should offer them a steady hand and an open heart. Bill Clinton knew this. So did Buddha. I’m not saying it’s easy (this post isn’t easy for me – I’m the shy retiring type), but I reach out to people on all sides every day of my life. (Thank you, Bonnie, for listening to what I was trying to say.)

    And one more, last “dance” with you, Donna.
    “Worry creates contraction…contraction shortens you, weakens the power of your voice.” (Several posts back)

    Donna, here’s a list of my favorite worriers: Abraham Lincoln, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy… Charlie Brown! Now come on, be honest. Who did you learn the most from – Charlie Brown or Lucy? And who did you like better? And why? Think about what these people had in common.

    And it all started by my posting what I thought was an innocuous little BBC article… But it’s for the best. I have other work to do. I just grabbed some of the stories below for you at random. There are hundreds more, from all over the world. As you’ll see, the common denominator is love and understanding. They inspire me everyday.

  3. The secretiveness, dishonesty and apparent greed of this administration leads one to suspect it of anything.

  4. RE: February 28, 2006 Staggering Ineptitude Filed under: Bush Administration, Iraq War — maha @ 10:01 pm

    Just this week the civil war in Iraq lead to 1300 deaths. It seems to me the compassionate conservative in the White House, would appropriately call a press conference for dissemination on the evening news to describe how we will exit Iraq immediately, as the only humane thing to do.

    The insurgency is fueled by the presence of U.S. troops.

    Why, I would expect Robert McNamara to make a statement to AP, Reuters or C-span calling for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops.

    Further Kofi Annon should do the same thing, as should Berlusconi, Blair and the Russian leadership.
    Finally, Rummie should call for immediate withdrawal and Condie Rice also. VP Cheney needs to call off the quail hunt also.

    The Saddam Hussain trial needs to be removed to the Hague. That will quell some of the killings.

    “Out of Iraq Now…Stop the Torture…No more Diebold Machines…No More Illegal Wiretapping…No more Gitmo goolags…Impose the Rule of Law…Issue Articles of Impeachment…Stop the Treason and Wholesale U.S. Giveaways…Keep and Protect our own Ports”

    Frankh99 in Miami contributed to this report.

  5. Sam I Am,

    Thanks for the links. I think Barbara is entitled to “rant” when she feels strongly about something. If you’ll compare hers to any number of other blogs, you’ll find that things are generally fairly civil here. I do know, from reading here for quite a while, that Barbara does not put out ideas just to be controversial or attention-getting.

  6. Sam,

    My join with a similarity is that I think in the long run the kind of dialog you express a wish for will serve the group-as-a-whole (citizens) more than contentious and frustrated whacks. I have the same wish, and the reality is that today it hasn’t happened, yet. The good news is that we can’t predict the future, and I am on the edge of the unknown with curiosity about this one. My thought is that the space that Barbara creates here potentiates the possibility that some of us, by bringing in our voice, can actually develop such skills.

    Out here in bumflipegypt, AKA West Texas, even we have a Socrates Cafe (Christopher Phillips, Socrates Cafe). I am not from here, and I had to be one of the ones that started it, but we are now in our 3rd year.

    In January the question was posed, “What is the function of extremism in American society.” The man that posed the question, a Southern Baptist, was going to ask about religious fundamentalism, but we decided to cast an even larger net.

    One of the best observations made was about the Bell Curve. A computer type suggested that the two ends excite the middle. I thought we had accomplished Socratic bingo with that one. Extremists, left and right, excite and frustrate many of us in a range within the middle and when the electrons get to vibrating at a high enough frequency then maybe people get up off their dead butt and on to their dying feet and go vote.

  7. Lynne and Neil, thank you for your kind and thoughtful responses.

    Lynne – you are perfectly correct. Barbara does have the right to “rant.” It’s her blog, after all! I believe I spoke of her fantastic work only with respect. It was her sober reasoning and dedication to ferreting out the truth that drew me here in the first place. It was the Comments that I was focusing on primarily. And yes, this blog is much kinder and gentler than most I’ve seen. That’s why I had greater hopes for it (for me), I guess.

    Neil – you’ve given me hope! A Socrates Cafe? What an excellent idea! I’ve just looked it up and I notice that the founder, Christopher Phillips, has written what looks like a fascinating book. I intend to read it! Thank you so much, Neil.
    I hope that the Socratic bingo, based on the bell curve you mention, is true. You don’t think it demoralizes and turns off the moderates? I’ll hope that you are right!

  8. Trust me! Sure! That’s why Scalia had to stop the FL recount in 2000.

    Remember Tom DeLay? He’s been flying under the radar lately but he is Chair of the Appropriations Committee. What a joke!

    TODAY, the Texas redistricting case is going before the Supreme Court. The Democrats from TX who lost due to the redistricting went before the Justice Dept 3 years ago and the Justice Dept ruled that the redistricting was illegal and violated voting rights. HOWEVER, a Bush appointee, Von Spakowsky, overruled the Justice Dept.

    He was the same individual who assisted in the FL recount in 2000.

    You can go to to read the article written by Tara Copp, “Democrats Feel Vindicated That Redistricting is Going Before Supreme Court”.

  9. Wake up America turn off Desperate housewives and American Idol and watch or read what is happening in this country. Who knew that only 2 percent of our ports are own by America the rest are own and operated by foreign countries. I think Bush talks down to Americans because he knows he can put anything over on us. Everything is a secret more then ever. I just hope that this whole bunch in Washington are all voted out including a few Democrates who do nothing. Peace to all

  10. Toni – comment 10

    Yes, it’s way past time to clean house (re: hope this whole bunch voted out).

    I think one Democrat that needs to go is Libermann. He is like the McCain of the Democrat party.

  11. every time I’ve poked my head inside, I hear mostly self-righteous, told-you-so ranting.

    We’re all only human. Some of us have dedicated a big chunk of our lives since 2001 to exposing the truth about the Bush Administration. Is it too much to ask that we be allowed a little self-righteous gloating now and then? It’s the only reward most of us ever receive for a lot of thankless struggle. 🙂

    I try to keep the comments civil by deleting personal attacks and obvious flame bait. I keep tighter control over the comments than most bloggers do, and catch some grief for it, but there are plenty of other places to go if you’re into flaming. I might miss an objectionable post now and then. Also, I might be a little indulgent with readers who’ve been with me for a long time, because they kept me going when hardly anyone was noticing my blog. I owe them.

    Also, we’re a group of people who are passionate, and passionate people get overheated now and then. Again, this is just human. Sometimes dispassion is a good thing, but it can also get a little boring.

  12. my comment 9

    Read The New York Times Editorial today – 3/1/06

    “The Texas Gerrymander”

    Bottomline is in the last sentence– if this is not struck down and this type of redistricting, we need to find another word for our government “because we will no longer be a democracy”.

  13. Maha,

    My apologies. It was not my intention to criticize you personally. I understand that I’m a newcomer and have little right to tell you how to conduct your blog. And you do conduct a mighty fine one. More than anything, I was expressing my disappointment. I’m only human, too.

    I understand that you and your participants have dedicated a big chunk of your lives since 2001. I too, have dedicated much thought and energy and passionate discourse – since the sixties – to what the honorable course should be for this nation of ours. I’ve found that I was not always right and I’ve found that reasonable people can disagree. What I was hoping for was a forum where people could come together and discuss these issues in a reasonable way. But obviously, I’m a square peg in a round hole here. Your purpose is to expose and share news and then exclaim over it, I guess? Sorry for the disruption.

    And yes, you are passionate. But so am I. The opposite of passionate anger is not dispassion. It is a passionate desire for understanding. Peace is not easy. It is not always popular. In fact, it rarely is. Peace starts with each of us individually and it takes more guts and character than most people are willing to give. This flippant “Peace” comment (Comment #10?), that some give to brush off any need to look at it, dishonors so many who gave us so much. Must I list them again? (I’m not talking about drugged hippies, here. I’m talking about Gandhi, MLK, Jesus, and so many other countless brave and anonymous souls) They should not be placed in a little file somewhere, to be brought out and mentioned once a year. That was not their message. Peace is a struggle within the human heart – every minute of the day. If you are not listening to it in your own soul, you might be “right” about some things, but you will not be wise. And wisdom is what we need more than ever. That’s what I’m looking for in this next election. Wisdom. (Think I’ll find it?)

    (Sorry, but to me, the gloating is boring and rather childish. It’s the Rush Limbaughist trait I’ve always found so unhelpful and unattractive about the “rabid right.” Substitute some key words and many of you sound exactly like him. He’s not a person I choose to emulate.)

  14. Pingback: The Mahablog » A Matter of Trust

  15. I’ve found that I was not always right and I’ve found that reasonable people can disagree.

    Yes, but we live in unreasonable times.

    There is a time for reaching out. However, there is also a time when people who share a cause need to talk among themselves. Liberals and progressives have been shut out of the national mass-media discourse for so long we nearly forgot who we are. The blogosphere has been a great way for us to find each other and reaffirm our ideals. It’s also been a great way to educate each other about what’s really going on. Along the way, we are learning how to turn blogging into real political organizing in order to have an impact on elections. Eventually, perhaps we can re-instate the Fairness Clause and re-inject some objectivity and sanity into mass media so that progressive ideas might be heard by the non-blog-reading public.

    However, “reaching out” to Bush supporters is futile. I spent a big chunk of the Clinton years participating in politics forums (even Usenet, for pity’s sake), and I have given up trying to “reach out” to anyone who is not damn well ready to “reach out” to me. If you want to try it go ahead, and be my guest, but there are many less aggravating ways to waste time.

    Further, I will not modify my rhetoric out of some wimpy notion of “balance” or “fairness” or “niceness.” That’s not what Jesus or Ghandi or the Buddha were about. There is a time to bow, and a time to stand up.

    Here, we’re standing up. Take it or leave it.

  16. Unreasonable times – when have we not lived in unreasonable times in some respect?

    I’m with you in paragraph two.

    I was talking about reaching moderates on both sides, Maha.

    Did I ask you to modify your rhetoric? No. I was referring to many of the comments that have been filling the place. Did I say anything about “balance” or “fairness” or “niceness”? I’m asking for maturity, sober review, breadth of understanding, the strength to ask the best from people. As I’ve said before, I admire your efforts in this direction. (The following post’s comments so far are more what I’ve been hoping to hear. They are very good!)

    However, the fact that you labeled my efforts “wimpy” shows me that you didn’t really hear me at all. : (

    I’m all for standing up. I think it’s high time. In my youth, I used to argue fervently with those who showed insensitivity toward minorities, other nationalities, etc. Now I gently prod them by asking them where their anger comes from. 7 times out of 10, they start to question themselves; whereas, before, I was batting 0 out of 10. Now, is this wimpy?

  17. Sam I Am – I feel that you have excellent writing skills. I am sure that you are aware of this fact.

    I agree with you that “peace is a struggle within the human heart”. I think that one can find this but it’s different from being astounded by what is happening to our country because of Bush.

    These are different times than Ghandi and MLK and I doubt if Bush or this administration gives one iota about MLK or Jesus.

    People are just upset over the one-sided politics going on in this country and what it is doing to “our country”.

    I got upset one day last week but I decided that I had just spent too much time blogging and everything was feeling very heavy and depressing.

    People were silent and passive during Hitler’s time and people are just starting to “snap out of it” here with this administration .

  18. Sam, you’re lecturing me ’cause I’m not holy enough for you in one post and then taking offense at my defense of not being holy enough for you in your next post. Do you want to go away and think about this for awhile? You seem conflicted.

    This blog is what it is. My aim here is to write from the gut what I think and feel. If people get something out of that, that’s great. If not, I’m going to write what I write anyway. I say again, take it or leave it. End of discussion.

  19. SICK OF IT?
    To contact ANY Senator or Representative call any of these toll free numbers: let them know what you think.

  20. Britwit!
    Thanks for your compliment. I’m new at this writing stuff so I take heart from what you say.

    About being astounded by Bush? I’ve been astounded by him since he first came on the scene! The difference now, with me, is that I feel like the chickens are finally coming home to roost.

    The reason I’ve been so persistent in this post is because I feel that now is the time for us (meaning Democrats and anyone else with a heart – and with pride about what our country really stands for) to focus on Hearts and Minds. Maha has the “minds” part down cold. It’s the “hearts” part I’m trying to put into the equation. If the “party with a heart” can’t do it, how can we have expected it from Bush and company? (Because they really never had one in the first place. Or else, it’s pretty warped.)

    Reach out to other moderates with maturity and understanding – that’s all I’m really trying to say. This isn’t being passive, is it?

    I agree with you that Bush et all don’t have a real grasp on what MLK or Jesus’ messages were – or we wouldn’t be in this position, would we! However, I don’t think our times are so different from what others have been through in history. (Gandhi turned Britain upside down.) What troubles me about our situation today is that we are being eaten away from the inside at a time when we are going to have some really tough issues to deal with. Our nation is so young and we have such critical times ahead. I have been concerned by this from day one with this bunch.

    What’s different now is that more people are waking up. Okay. Now we’re at the crossroads – a turning point. What do we do with it? That’s my question. That’s where our focus should be.

    Maha is doing an outstanding job doing what she does. I keep saying that I’m not critical of her so much as I was of the tone of so many commenters. I guess we disagree on this, however? (I’m a little confused by what she meant about my being conflicted. Did you understand what she meant? I mean, I’m always conflicted. That’s nothing new with me, but I didn’t catch her meaning. I don’t think she wants to talk with me anymore and she has a perfect right to feel this way. I feel like an annoying guest who’s outstayed one’s welcome. She’s undoubtedly mumbling to herself that I can just go ahead and start my own blog, thank you very much. Well, she’s a busy lady on a mission and I do admire her for all she has accomplished. I hope the C-SPAN attention hasn’t been a double-edged sword for her. She should be proud.

    Britwit, thank you for your honest discussion with me. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. I’ve tried to be as honest about my feelings (and my intentions) as I could. I’ve had a tight chest from all of this discourse lately. I’m going to take a walk and get back to my real job. I understand what you mean by “heavy and depressing.” I can only imagine what a toll it could take on Maha, too, and I regret it if I’ve caused her more stress.

    CNN is going to discuss whether or not Gore is going to run again. ???

  21. Sam I Am – I have to step into reality.

    My chocolate lab is barking and my husband just got home early–back to reality.

    I have to go prepare dinner. Can I please have a wife????

  22. Sam I Am,

    I can’t speak for Barbara, but I am sure she means that if you can only criticize the comments here, than this may not be a place for you. On the other hand, I am certain that your point of view is worthwhile (of course it is) and valuable to our discourse. We just need to be taken as we are, thank you!

  23. Lynne,

    Thanks. Duly noted. I hope you both read, in my Comment #18:
    As I’ve said before, I admire your efforts in this direction. (The following post’s comments so far are more what I’ve been hoping to hear. They are very good!) ??

    I’ve had my say. Sorry if I’ve been tiresome.

  24. There’s a new word over at Kos – ineptocracy. Guess whose government it’s talking about. Then there’s ineptocrat. Guess who that is. Then there’s ineptocratic. Guess what administration is ineptocratic. Then there’s ineptocratically. Guess who thinks, reasons and functions ineptocratically. You got 100% on this test.

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