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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

A Bad Report Card for U.S. Intelligence Agencies

April 04, 2005

Re "Panel Denounces Spy Agencies," April 1: So there were no weapons after all. For most of us, this comes as no surprise. This report only serves to illustrate how far the country has strayed in its thinking.

Our preemptive strike in Iraq has indelibly stained our reputation, destroyed any shred of credibility we may have had and served to show the world that the only remaining superpower on Earth is both arrogant and ignorant.

This administration's rush to war and its continuing chest-pounding and saber rattling is frightening.

Paul Panza

Ramona

*

"Dead wrong!" What an appropriate phrase for a situation where so many are wrongly dead.

Rama Rao

Irvine

*

By now, the story of Iraq's mythical weapons of mass destruction is so familiar that the report of the presidential commission comes as no surprise.

What is surprising is the conclusion that no analyst had ever been pressured to interpret evidence in such a way that it supported a belief that such weapons existed.

In addition to the politics cited in your editorial ("Oh, That Politicization," April 1), there are institutional and personal pressures that drive individuals to see threats where none exist.

In the aftermath of the 9/11 intelligence debacle, all agencies were hypersensitive to the slightest hint of danger to the United States. No group wanted to be accused of missing a signal, so the tendency was to assume the worst even if the evidence was weak.

As in any bureaucracy, no points are gained from concluding that nothing is there. Careers are made by making startling discoveries that get people's attention, not by concluding that all is well. With as many as 100,000 Iraqis and over 1,500 American lives lost, the consequences of these misjudgments have been all too tragic.

James Williams

Park Falls, Wis.

*

Bay of Pigs, Gulf of Tonkin, Iraqi war, etc., the new intelligence report confirms what we've known all along: Intelligence agencies provide what their bosses want. Until intelligence has independence, history will continue to repeat itself.

Donald L. Kennedy

Garden Grove

*

So a presidential commission, appointed by President Bush, finally issues its report blasting our intelligence for being dead wrong in every instance in building a case for going to war with Iraq.

More than 1,500 U.S. fatalities and 10,000 wounded later, one must ask: Who is really to blame for this horrendous failure?

I can best answer that by stating that President Harry S. Truman had it right when he said, "The buck stops here" -- in the Oval Office.

William P. Mouzis

Lake Balboa

*

This exercise is a living, breathing 1984. The most powerful intelligence unit leading to the Iraq war was the special team that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld set up in the Pentagon to hype the war and look for Iraq links to Al Qaeda.

The report doesn't even mention this military agitprop. By denying the political side of the equation, this commission is just another Potomac scam.

David Dietrich

Temecula

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