August 24, 2006

Politics Trumps Reason

It's getting to the point where the Administration (and supporters) just don't need any intelligence services at all. They already know everything they need to know about the world. Just ask them:

Some senior Bush administration officials and top Republican lawmakers are voicing anger that American spy agencies have not issued more ominous warnings about the threats that they say Iran presents to the United States.

Hey, I've got an idea: why not let the intelligence people give their best (educated) guess about what Iran might do or build (and when). You know, let them really research the question and use actual evidency stuff, icky numbers and things, and all that ugly science crap the adminstration doesn't understand to build an actual (hopefully close to accurate) picture of what Iran has done and will do. Then, armed with that best guess, we can decide how and what to talk to them about (and how and what not to talk to them about).

Naw. That'll never work.

The new [Congressional] report, from the House Intelligence Committee, led by Representative Peter Hoekstra, Republican of Michigan, portrayed Iran as a growing threat and criticized American spy agencies for cautious assessments about Iran's weapons programs. "Intelligence community managers and analysts must provide their best analytical judgments about Iranian W.M.D. programs and not shy away from provocative conclusions or bury disagreements in consensus assessments," the report said, using the abbreviation for weapons of mass destruction like nuclear arms.

I was right: that didn't work. I expected my forlorn hope to last longer than a paragraph. I was sadly mistaken.

Oh, point of logic: if the present Intel Community Assessment (which is likely their "best analystical judement") of Iran is that it isn't as large a threat as we thought (and as some hope), doesn't that count as "provocative." And if they are being "provocative," why does the House Intel Committee need to issue a report, telling them to be more "provocative"? Actually, that means that the Intel Community has provoked the House Intelligence Committee! Hey, pre-emptive provocation! The Intel Community responded before the report was even written!

Unless, of course, "provocative" means something else. Like, "issues reports that agree with what I think is happening." That's a definition of "provocative" that likely isn't supported by very many dictionaries.

I wonder how long it will be in the article before some Republican says something completely silly?

At the same time, Mr. Fingar dismissed the notion that intelligence analysts should try merely to connect random intelligence findings. "As a 40-year analyst, I'm offended by the notion of 'connecting dots,' "’he said. "If you had enough monkeys you could do that."

The consensus of the intelligence agencies is that Iran is still years away from building a nuclear weapon. Such an assessment angers some in Washington, who say that it ignores the prospect that Iran could be aided by current nuclear powers like North Korea. “When the intelligence community says Iran is 5 to 10 years away from a nuclear weapon, I ask: ‘If North Korea were to ship them a nuke tomorrow, how close would they be then?” said Newt Gingrich, the former Republican speaker of the House of Representatives.

Ding Ding Ding! A winner! While it is true that "if North Korea ships Iran a nuke tommorow," then Iran would have a nuke, it is also true that if space aliens show up tomorrow and give me a Destucto-Ray, I could take over the world. It is also true that if monkeys were to fly out of my butt, I'd likely either be rich, or in a circus sideshow. The word "if" should be banned from serious news articles.

I'd also like to point out that the 40-year veteran intelligence analyst noted that "monkeys could connect dots," and then Newt Gingrich did just that in the next paragraph. Thus (by the associative property), showing that Newt is a monkey. It's probably just the liberal bias of the reporter (this is the NYT, after all).


Posted by baltar at August 24, 2006 11:42 AM | TrackBack | Posted to Hacktastic! | International Affairs | You Can't Make This Stuff Up


How about provocative as in provoking a war with Iran?

Posted by: binky at August 24, 2006 01:07 PM | PERMALINK

Well, yeah, there is that too.

Posted by: baltar at August 24, 2006 01:54 PM | PERMALINK
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