The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Thursday, June 05, 2003

The Intelligence Sham

Why do they waste their breath?

First, we had the Great Doctored Intelligence Caper over this side of the pond, in which (unnamed) intelligence guys were supposed to have complained that Blair and his boys twisted the dope the (unnamed) spooks gave them the better to manipulate the populace into supporting the war (piece of earlier today).

Now, we have US spooks complaining (WaPo June 5) that Uncle Dick Cheney and his Chief of Staff, the improbably named I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, were paying regular house-calls, parking their tanks on the CIA's lawn, and, according to one senior agency official - unnamed, natch -
sent signals, intended or otherwise, that a certain output was desired from here.

And Mr Bureaucratic Paul Wolfowitz also lent a hand in the leaning process, it seems. One of his hacks rushes to his defence:
Does he ask hard questions? Absolutely. I don't think he was trying to get people to come up with answers that weren't true. He's looking for data and answers and he gets frustrated with a lack of answers and diligence and with things that can't be defended.

Now, of course, there is no such thing as a single Truth. But there is such a thing as a team-player...

My guess is, both USG and HMG twisted the arms of their intelligence guys until their shoulder-joints gave way to give them the answers they needed. I'd expect no different. Big boys' rules.

But I also know that there is no way in which evidence either way is going to be forthcoming any time soon. Both the dissidents and the governments have one thing in common: they refuse to pony up what's necessary to prove their cases on the grounds of job security and national security respectively.We can use external indicia - Tony Blair's plagiarised dossier (February archive passim), say - to judge the veracity of governments' case (ie, nil). But no amount of leaks will produce any more than a protracted he said, she said.

My guess is that, even if there were a spook willing to cast all caution to the wind, and go public with a smoking gun, there may not be one: not a nice, simple, tabloid-friendly piece of paper, signed by Blair, saying, Do what we tell you. On the other hand, email is such a very tempting medium for indiscretion - it's just possible that someone, after a couple of beers, has provided the necessary.

But I'm not holding my breath.

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