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April 01, 2008

Nothing to See Here
Posted by Ilan Goldenberg

Spencer Ackerman points out the fact that there will no publicly released summary of an Iraq National Intelligence Estimate before the Petraeus/Crocker hearings.  Because why should the public have any access to what our intelligence agencies think about the war?


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Why should the public have access to what our intelligence agencies think about the war? I'm not asking to be difficult, but because I think its an important question. You and Ackerman pose the question in a politically-tinged sarcastic manner, but I think it goes deeper than that. I come out on the side of more openness rather than less; that the federal government tends toward keeping information close to the chest rather than sharing (and this is a bi-partisan practice). But honestly, is this call for an informed citizenry due to the fact that it involves Iraq--a politically hot topic--rather than the general idea itself? Where is the call from this blog, or Ackerman, or other progressive blogs for unclassified, public summaries of all major intelligence reports? No interest in Venezuela? Or how about IC analysis of what Russia's reactions to further NATO enlargement might include? I guess I just don't believe because the topic is Iraq different rules should apply. I realize our commitment there is on a different scale than other security issues on the current agenda, but I believe calls for transparency should be general and not limited to a few politically-relevant issues.

The argument generally goes like this: If we publicize what we know about the enemy then the enemy would be able to ascertain the methods we used to gain the knowledge. Intelligence methods and personnel might thereby be compromised.

This argument is unassailable. Fortunately, it is immaterial "what our intelligence agencies think about the war." They themselves have been compromised by the politicians and their record is pitiful. Have they ever been right?

In other words, Bush denigrates the NIE and we should too. It's bogus government propaganda.

As Arnold writes, transparency in all things is the goal. But we won't get it, and shouldn't expect it, from a government which has an axe to grind or a country to invade/occupy. We must rely on a free press, e.g. the British (The Independent) or Qatar (al Jazeerah) press (and not the US corporate press).