Thursday, March 31, 2005

WMD Report

So we got it wrong.

So now what? How do we fix the mistakes?

I don't buy the idea that the entire US intelligence community just totally shit the bed on the Iraq WMD. I guarantee some analyst somewhere got it right. How do we give that guy/gal a larger voice so we avoid groupthink? My "spy blog" article is one solution (although some disagree).

I think the clearest way to solving problems is having things like the Sept 11th commission and the WMD Panel that help us avoid mistakes like this in the future. I think it speaks well of our country that we are willing to invest the time and intellectual energy to get at truth. Of course, everyone's conclusions about how much truth results from these things are shaded by their political leanings, but you don't see to many dictatorships that openly criticize themselves. Did Saddam convene the "mother of all commissions" to figure out why he lost the first Gulf War?

Updated info. Here.


At March 31, 2005, Blogger Mr Bob said...

Just ran accross your blog as I was perusing the Miliblog links. I am an Information Systems Tech in the Navy and was extremely interested in that blogging idea that Captain Alexander had written about in Wired. Your link tipped me off and I am hooking up with him via secure email. I hope the idea he has grows some legs.

At April 01, 2005, Blogger J. said...

Re: "I think it speaks well of our country that we are willing to invest the time and intellectual energy to get at truth."

That assumes that we want the truth to come out. And YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH! Okay sorry about that. This commission hasn't done its job though. Unlike the 9/11 commission, it was secretive and close to the exec branch in creating their findings. It places the blame entirely on the intel community without regard to understanding how the policy makers shaped their decisions based on this data.

From my viewpoint (and I still need to read the entire report), the intel community said "there are WMDs in Iraq" and they were wrong. Got that. The leap of logic was when policy makers said that 100-500 metric tons of chemical agents represented an untenable threat to the national security. That's what "justified" the war, not the alleged presence of stocks, but the rational that Saddam had intent to use it, and the intel community never backed that horse.

I'll be looking at this more next week, but your secure blog? Hell, yeah that would have helped.

At April 01, 2005, Blogger Kris Alexander said...


I'm not going to get too much into politics for obvious reasons. I sitll think that it speaks well of our political system that we even take steps like this. How often do you see things like this, or the grilling that ADM Church took in front of the Senate, in other countries?

At April 01, 2005, Blogger Alex Urevick-Ackelsberg said...

The lead-up to this war, and the subsequent failures to find WMD and deal with the insurgency, is like one long lesson in cognitive biasis.
Some heuristics easily seen in this episode of American History, each which was obviously at play before hand:
False consensus effect
Cultural bias
Experimenter/Expectancy Effect
Illusory correlation
Planning fallacy
Wishful thinking

And of course
the Attributional bias

It's also a great illustration of my favorite military term: Incestuous Amplification.

If these core issues aren't addressed by the intelligence community and the Government at large, than the fuck ups that lead us into Iraq, and those that made the war worse than need be, are hardly going to seem significant. The end result of an IA feedback loop is... extinction (not literal, but the extinction of our powers, our military and economic dominance, etc)


At April 03, 2005, Blogger Jerry L. McClough said...

I totally understand where you are coming from, because these folks have placed our troop in harms way over a lie. The truth must be told and everyone involved must be held accountable !!

At April 08, 2005, Anonymous Lazy Detective said...

At least this report delved into "curveball" whereas the previous ones would not even touch it. I'd be interested to know if it touches on why they used so much intelligence from such a discredited source. ( Unless the report investigates why Rummy and Wolfie had to create the "Office of Special Plans" within the pentagon, then its nothing but damage control for the Bush admin, and scapegoating the Intel community. The CIA found that Ahmad Chalabi was unreliable, and so the OSP was created to circumvent the CIA and use sources that they wouldn't. I am convinced that if the CIA had been left to its own devices and politics hadn't shaped the intel, there would have never been an invasion of Iraq. If the report doesn't touch on the politics of intelligence, then its nothing but a whitewash.


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