FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

John Lehman on the War Path

Blame the CIA. That’s a political agenda that has found bipartisan support in Congress. Both the right and the left saw the departure of CIA chief George Tenet as a first step toward improving U.S. intelligence capabilities.

This month two bipartisan committees the independent 9/11 commission and the Senate Intelligence Committee reviewing U.S. counterterrorism policy and the administration’s response to 9/11 have fingered the CIA as having led the U.S. government astray. This assessment conflicts with the mounting evidence that right-wing politics and ideology have driven all decisions by the Bush administration, including the war on Iraq. But rather than blaming the politicization of intelligence, the congressional bodies scapegoated the CIA.

One of the most vocal critics of the CIA’s performance has been John F. Lehman Jr., former Navy secretary under President Reagan and member of the independent 9/11 commission, which will release its final report later this month. Lehman is also a leading candidate to replace Tenet as director of central intelligence.

Common Knowledge about Iraq

Although the two congressional committees on the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent U.S. response concluded that U.S. intelligence agencies got their facts wrong, Lehman himself persists in supporting the administration’s claim that Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda were in cahoots.

Lehman told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on June 20 that the commission had documents captured in Iraq that “indicate that there is at least one officer of Saddam’s Fedayeen, a lieutenant colonel, who was a very prominent member of al Qaeda.” Lehman succeeded in giving new life to the administration’s claims, although the CIA quickly dismissed the assertion, saying that the documents did not support Lehman’s allegation. In fact, the CIA had investigated this alleged link “a long time ago” and concluded that one officer in Hussein’s militia merely had a name that was similar to that of an al Qaeda operative. However, Lehman claimed on national television that it was new information, as yet unexamined by the commission or other government entities.

Bad Intelligence

Lehman has long charged that the CIA has dismissed dissenting points of views. He has faulted the CIA for not giving adequate attention to theories that Iraq was behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the 9/11 attacks, and even the anthrax attacks of the fall of 2001. And Lehman continues to parrot the arguments of the neoconservatives, regularly appearing in the Weekly Standard, that al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein were close collaborators.

That John Lehman has even been considered as capable of directing the overhaul of the badly flawed U.S. intelligence system underscores the degree to which right-wing ideologues and agendas continue to shape U.S. national security strategy. The main lesson for intelligence reform that should be drawn from recent U.S. foreign policy misadventures is that politicized intelligence is bad intelligence.

Certainly the CIA fell short in providing fact-based intelligence about the al Qaeda threat and the alleged Iraqi threat. But, as it has done in the past, notably under pressure from Team B and the Committee on the Present Danger in the late 1970s, the CIA reworked its own intelligence estimates to reflect the ideological convictions of the administration. But John Lehman along with the neoconservatives, the trigger-happy militarists like Rumsfeld and Cheney, and the liberal hawks in the Democratic Party also got it very wrong. Conveniently, they all join together again in blaming the CIA for its faulty fact-checking.

TOM BARRY is policy director of the Interhemispheric Resource Center and author of numerous books on international relations. He can be contacted at: tom@irc-online.org.

More articles by:

Tom Barry directs the Transborder Program at the Center for International Policy and is a contributor to the Americas Program www.cipamericas.org.

Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Matthew Stevenson
Going Home Again to Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
John W. Whitehead
It’s All Fake: Reality TV That Masquerades as American Politics
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
Binoy Kampmark
Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Kevin MacKay
Climate Change is Proving Worse Than We Imagined, So Why Aren’t We Confronting its Root Cause?
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Implementation with Integrity and Will to Resolve
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Homophobia in the Service of Anti-Trumpism is Still Homophobic (Even When it’s the New York Times)
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
David Yearsley
The Glories of the Grammophone
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail