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Memos of doom

Because I know I’m going to want to refer to this later.

Let’s be clear on this. The reports discussed in the memo are simply the reports Doug Feith used to make the case for an imminent threat from Iraq. Doug Feith is guilty of politicizing intelligence in the worst way. He has been, in the past, cozened by Ahmed Chalabi. He was in charge of post-war planning — the same planning that has been faulty to the degree that Bush is adopting the French plan.

Feith spent his time picking and choosing the intelligence reports he wanted in order to prove his thesis, ignoring those reports which didn’t support him. Is it any surprise that a list of raw intelligence reports he compiled would “prove” him right?


  1. t.rev t.rev

    This isn’t up to your usual level of insight, Bryant. Noting that Douglas Feith sells babies to extraterrestrials for crack money and once raped the Dalai Lama doesn’t actually refute anything he’s asserting.

    But let’s make the reasonable assumption that he’s biased toward war-mongering, and has the ability to sift through a large amount of data and filter out the parts that most strongly support his thesis. This ought to make one regard the memo with great suspicion, as I do.

    Two factors suggest to me that it’s a bad idea to dismiss it out of hand, though:

    1) The nature of the thesis is such that if it is true, most reports still would not confirm it, and even one confirmed positive would prove at least a weak version of it. If I argue that coelocanths (or unicorns) exist, and I poll 100 randomly selected humans as to whether they’ve seen a coelocanth (or unicorn) in the last 10 years, I am not likely to get a lot of ‘yes’ answers. Suppose that out of 1,000,000 reports that cross my desk, five of them involve a coelocanth (or unicorn), and I use those five reports to argue publically that we must face the potential threat from coelocanths (or unicorns). As a reason to dismiss my argument, my failure to consider the vast number of NON-coelocanth (or unicorn) spottings is fairly weak.

    2) The report contains an awful lot of data, some of which can be followed up on and checked independently, and some people are doing just that. Few of them in the media, unfortunately, so far.

    Did al-Qaeda cooperate with Iraq? I have absolutely no bloody idea. And neither do you.

  2. The point is not so much that Doug Feith is a bad guy, I think. I’d agree on both your points 1 and 2.

    However, the memo doesn’t tell us anything new except that it provides us with some of the actual data. We already knew that Doug Feith had handpicked data which supported his thesis. It shouldn’t be any surprise that he can write a memo listing that data.

    I.e., I don’t think the memo has a scrap of relevance except that it provides us with more things to check on — and even that’s only part of the story, since we don’t have access to any data that might contradict any of the raw reports we now know about.

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