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"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."
Sir Winston Churchill

12.14.2005

CIA Delenda Est

If Jack Kelly keeps this up, Patrick Fitzgerald will cross him off his Christmas card list:

On Aug. 2, Dafna Linzer of the Washington Post reported that "a major U.S. intelligence review has projected that Iran is about a decade away from manufacturing the key ingredient for a nuclear weapon, roughly doubling the previous estimate of five years."

On Dec. 5, the Jerusalem Post reported that Mohammed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, "confirmed Israel's assessment that Iran is only a few months away from creating an atomic bomb."

My, how time flies. It hasn't seemed as if 10 years have elapsed since last summer.

The CIA could be right, and the Israeli intelligence service Mossad and the IAEA could be wrong. But given the CIA's forecasting record -- it missed the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Islamic revolution in Iran, the warning signs of 9/11 and Saddam's WMD -- that's not the way to bet.

Intelligence analysis isn't the only thing the CIA does sloppily. The Bush administration suffered major embarrassment when it was disclosed that the United States was holding top al-Qaida suspects in "secret prisons" in eastern Europe and North Africa.

A Swedish journalist who prepared one of the first stories on the CIA flights that transported al-Qaida captives told Josh Gerstein of The New York Sun the CIA did a poor job of covering its tracks.

"I would say they didn't give a damn," Fredrik Laurin told Mr. Gerstein. "If I was an American taxpayer, I'd be upset."

For a show broadcast in May of last year, Mr. Laurin traced the tail number of a Gulfstream jet used to transport captives to a clearly phony company in Massachusetts.

"You weren't able to trace the name to any living individual," Mr. Laurin said. "They were all living in post office boxes in Virginia.

"If that's all the imagination they can drum up at Langley, I'd fire the bunch," Mr. Laurin added.


As a consolation prize, we'll be adding Mr. Kelly as a Reliable Source, quite unlike the people paid with taxpayer coin to be so for the national security of the United States.

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