Wednesday, May 23, 2007
You May Want To Sit Down
What exactly is the purpose of military intelligence?
I'm confused because I used to think that its primary function was to be collected, deciphered, collated and directed to the necessary decision-making people and/or departments that would then parse it, analyze it, make reasonable conclusions about what it said and then use those conclusions to justify bombing the shit out of other countries until they forcibly agree to become free democracies like us.
That's kind of what the Bush administration has used military intelligence for, but really kind of not. They seem to be under the impression that military intelligence has the war-justifying and democracy-making qualities described above, but that it can be approached in a more selective, less collective way. I get the projected time-saving benefits of pre-deciding what you're going to accept from the collected data and what you're going to reject. Generally, I applaud anyone in government who is able to streamline overwrought processes in the interest of time, manpower and budget savings.
I don't know that military intelligence is necessarily where you want to start cutting corners, however. Sure, it may seem like you're cutting way back on billable hours by issuing directives to only consider incoming information that supports, say at total random, the invasion of Iraq and its connection to al Qaeda and/or WMD. But cruise missiles are really expensive. Sure, you can cut some more corners by withholding body armor and Humvee outfitting and maybe at the back end by curbing the quality of post-war recovery health care and health care facilities for the soldiers returning, but all in all, in a strict cost/benefit analysis, I'd say you're better served putting the time and money into the initial intelligence analysis to the tune of several hundred billion dollars and one midterm election.
It's not like the Bush people don't know how to keep secrets or what the importance of secret information is. We still don't know what Dick Cheney said to those energy people* way back in the early days of the administration, which shows strength and foresight and an unshakable commitment to principle. Bullshit principle, but once you commit, you commit.
The problem isn't the keeping of the secrets. What troubles me is the way in which these secrets are let go. Probably the less said about the Valerie Plame thing the better, but it is a case in point.
Now in preparation for a major policy speech and PR push ahead of the Democratic Congress' Summer Shenanigans Tour, our irascible, benighted leadership has decided to publicly declassify a bunch of stuff about Iraq and al-Qaeda.
If you're like me, you're thinking: "$15 monthly or $150 for lifetime membership? I'll take the latter! Thank you, asstomouth.com!"
More specifically related to this, you're probably thinking as I did: "Finally! Something to illuminate the real rationale for this drain on our resources, our manpower, our families and our 24-cable-news time we could be devoting to nonstop Paris Hilton Prison Watch!"
The thing that bothers me isn't that the president seems to be OK with the declassification of information solely for the purpose of punching up some paragraphs in some political speech he's giving. Frankly at this point, I'd be more alarmed if he weren't doing something like that. What bothers me is the total lameness of the declassified intelligence.
Here's what we now know, based on the information the government until two days ago was protecting us from:
1) Al Qaeda has been operating in Iraq (or at least trying to) since after the invasion. So very nearly helpful to the administration. Except for the italicized word above.
2) Osama bin Laden has given people in his organization orders to attack places outside of Iraq, including RIGHT HERE IN AMERICA!
Wow. Turns out this bin Laden guy? No likey us. Wants to kill us and everything.
You know, for people who take every opportunity to remind us of 9/11, they sure don't seem to have gotten the general point of that event. I would write them a memo, but somehow I suspect I wouldn't get the proper reaction to that either.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.3
* = I can understand their reticence. I suspect it has something to do with not being able to find a good text form to describe a nine-man reach-around.