The National Ilan Estimate
Posted by Ilan Goldenberg
No, not Ilan Goldenberg. Ilan Berman.
In recent days conservative like Berman, Norman Podhoretz, Danielle Pletka and Jon Bolton, have been trying to cast doubt on the conclusions of the intelligence community. Now the Washington Post is picking up on it and lending the arguments more credibility. When reading these arguments it's worthwhile to remember a few basic facts that should absolutely discredit this entire crowd.
First, none of these people have access to the actual intelligence. They are sitting at think tanks outside of the intelligence community and simply haven't seen the data. This was a report that shows the basic consensus of the nation's 16 intelligence and it was produced on the Bush Administration's watch and ultimately approved by the Director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell, who is a Bush Administration appointee.
Second, and this is even more important. This conservative and neo-conservative crowd has a long history of disregarding and manipulating intelligence when it doesn't fall conveniently into their world view. The Team B exercises in the late 1970s found that Soviet intentions and capabilities were much more dangerous than previously estimated by the intelligence community. It became part of the justification for a major military buildup against the Soviets. The Rumsfeld Commission in the 1990s was specifically set up to dispute the Intelligence Community's conclusions that the ballistic missile defense threat from developing countries to the American mainland was not an immediate danger. It became the basis for greater investment in a National Missile Defense. The Office of Special Plans that was set up in the Pentagon in the run up to the Iraq War, was specifically charged with trying to find connections between Al Qaeda and Iraq. It was used to support arguments for War.
In all of these cases conservatives played with and disregarded intelligence to help make their cases for a particular policy. And in all of these cases the conservatives were wrong.