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How Many More Lies Before Accountability?

NOTE: I will be on Sam Seder’s Show today beginning at 5 pm ET. You can listen live on the Air America stream.

When the "935 Iraq Falsehoods" report came out, Dan Froomkin noted that the Senate Intel committee’s long-overdue Phase II report might actually see the light of day "before the end of Spring." While that would be a nice change of pace — to actually complete and release a report we’ve been awaiting for years, I’m not exactly holding my breath on the cooperation of Kit Bond and his merry band of partisans refraining from "creating tension," which is apparently the hold up for Sen. Rockefeller, according to his spokesperson Wendy Morigi, as quoted by Froomkin.

(insert frustrated eye roll here)

So, while we continue to tap our toes waiting for the report that isn’t yet, let’s take a moment to peek behind the curtain of frustration that real, live intelligence analysts have to continue to live with, day in and day out, in Bushworld. CQ Politics has an interview with highlights A.J. Rossmiller — of Americablog — who is an upcoming guest on February 16th for our Book Salon for his new book, Still Broken. From the interview in CQ:

“Products were written . . . and then read by other people in the CIOC. Good analysis was done . . . and never seen by anybody who could do anything about it. We rarely received feedback, and we never had a solid conception of who our customers were or what missions we were serving.”

That would change when Rossmiller, a lowly GS-9, was eventually transferred to the Direct Action team, whose unofficial motto was “track ’em and whack ’em.” There he was an uncomfortable witness to U.S. soldiers screaming in English at Iraqis they’d rounded up. When they didn’t get satisfactory answers — there never seemed to be one — they dispatched their bewildered, hooded and quite possibly innocent captives to the soon-to-be infamous Abu Ghraib prison for interrogation.

After six months, Rossmiller left Baghdad with an assignment to the Pentagon to analyze intelligence and prognosticate on the chaotic Iraqi government. His entire time there, he and many other analysts never had their own desks or computers. Many of the computers weren’t equipped with the proper software to allow access to both top secret and unclassified materials.

To Rossmiller, the DIA’s Iraq intelligence teams, located in temporary, cramped offices along a hard-to-find hallway off a corridor, seemed like a nuisance or afterthought.

Unfortunately, one of his worst Baghdad bosses landed there, too, a right-wing war booster who was “running around the office and asking people what they were working on so he could add his opinion (that is, inject his ideology)” into their intelligence reports.

“He would launch tirades over minor analytical disagreements,” Rossmiller writes, “once telling an analyst, in all seriousness, ‘Well, it’s clear I have to do more micromanaging here!’ ” There were already layers upon layers of supervisors who could, and would, edit, rewrite or boil down the analysts’ reports….

Intelligence officials constantly berated and insulted the analysts’ sober reports on the growing chaos of Baghdad, the hopelessly splintered Iraqi government and the fighting among Sunnis and Shiites that had spun into a civil war.

The J-2, or top intelligence officer on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, fell back on rank to intimidate them into changing, or completely repudiating, their reports.

”You’re digging yourself a hole, mister junior analyst,” the (unnamed) J-2 would bark, or “I quit reading when I see stupidity in reporting.”

How ironic, in hindsight. It was the Joint Chiefs and other military brass who dug themselves into a big hole in Iraq by suppressing the intelligence.

Or, at least, it would be ironic if the cost weren’t being borne on the backs of other people’s children. (Warning: this article will infuriate you.) I first met A.J. at the first YKos in Las Vegas a couple of years ago, and we talked a bit about what he and fellow DIA folks went through trying to get truth through the maze of "more rose-colored glasses" demands from higher-ups at the Pentagon. While we’re awaiting the Phase II report, A.J.’s book gives a horrid glimpse into the buffonery, the egos and the eagerness to spoon-feed cheery news to the brass and the Bushies at all costs.

It is a story that we ought to all learn from…even if the Bush/Cheney acolytes won’t even bother. Because these are mistakes we cannot continue to repeat.

(YouTube of Rostropovich playing the Dvorak Cello Concerto. Lovely piece played masterfully.)

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com