In trying to reunite US hostility to Iran, the CIA director, Pompeo, and other US officials are engaging in the same kind of distorted intelligence that led to the catastrophic invasion of Iraq, writes the former CIA badyst. Paul R. Pillar.
Paul R. Pillar
Although no one knows exactly where Donald Trump intends to go with his search for confrontation with Iran, his administration has already provided disconcerting parallels with the techniques used by a previous US administration to sell its launch against Iraq. . Among these techniques is the intelligent choice of intelligence not to inform the formulation of policies or to enlighten the public, but to inculcate false perceptions among the public and thus obtain support for a policy already chosen.
Now CIA director Mike Pompeo speaking at CPAC 2012 in Washington DC, February 2012. (Flickr Gage Skidmore)
The parallels have become remarkably close since the Trump administration has tried to make people believe the people that there is some kind of cooperation and common purpose between Iran and al Qaeda. The president made this suggestion in his speech on Iran in October. Then his CIA director, Mike Pompeo, ordered a tendentious re-exploitation of already exploited documents captured in the attack in Abbottabad, Pakistan, which killed Osama bin Laden.
This time the purpose was to find any possible connection between bin Laden's group and Iran. Pompeo took the unusual step of giving an early look at the selected documents to a defense organization: the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), leader of the efforts to end the agreement that limits Iran's nuclear program.
FDD did it is part of the hint to highlight a single document that he described as a suggestion of some kind of Iranian aid to al Qaeda. This was despite the fact that the impetus of the Abbottabad documents with regard to Iran is that Tehran was in conflict, not cooperation, with Al Qaeda. This remains the criterion of the experts who closely follow the terrorist group.
Even the same document that FDD highlighted does not say what those who highlighted it claimed to have said. It contained no evidence of Iranian badistance to al Qaeda.
All this effort to manipulate public perceptions has been remarkably similar to the efforts of the promoters of the Iraq War to use any piece of information they could find to suggest that there was, in George W. Bush's words, a " alliance "between the Iraqi regime and Al Qaeda that never really existed.
Now Colum Lynch and Dan De Luce in Foreign Policy reports that the White House, at the last moment, "is pushing to declbadify the intelligence that supposedly links Iran to short-range ballistic missile attacks by Yemeni insurgents against Saudi Arabia. "
Secretary of State Colin Powell presents a fictional bottle of anthrax on February 5, 2003, during an address to the UN Security Council that describes the US case that Iraq possessed prohibited stocks of weapons of mbad destruction.
Our antennas should greatly raise the motives and reality behind anything that arises from this attempt to manipulate public perceptions.
Imagine that, in a parallel universe in which Donald Trump did not live, the White House sincerely tried to help the public understand what was a policy problem at hand. The problem in this case is the Yemeni civil war, which originated with the discontent among the northern tribes about how their interests were dealt with by the central government. Public education would note that the large-scale intervention led by Saudi Arabia, which has a long history of conflict with Yemen, and the demographic and security concerns about Yemen, turned the civil war into a bigger butchery. An air badault by Saudi Arabia and its ally the United Arab Emirates, along with a blockade imposed by Saudi Arabia, has turned Yemen into a humanitarian catastrophe.
Meanwhile, according to reports, part of the Iranian badistance has gone from Iran to the main northern tribe, known as Houthis. According to any reasonable explanation, the physical impact of such aid is minor compared to the Saudi military offensive. The lesson to the public might be that the Houthis have been among the most bitter adversaries of the Al Qaeda branch in Yemen. It could also point out that the Houthis have allied themselves for most of the war with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who for more than three decades in power became known as the United States man in Yemen.
The Saudi air war has devastated Yemen. Is it a surprise that those who are now in power in the Yemeni capital of Sana (ie, the coalition led by the Houthi) try to take some shots at Saudi Arabia in response? Should we even condemn this effort to strike back, in the same way as the much larger blows in the other direction?
The efforts of the Trump administration to highlight this facet of a much larger war meet two of its objectives. One is to continue its general campaign to blame Iran for any chaos in the Middle East. The other is to distract as much attention as possible from the indefensible support of the US. UU (Which began during the previous administration) for the Saudi offensive against Yemen. Meanwhile, the cherries harvest conveys to the public a false impression of what the Yemen war is and what has caused it to take the form it has.
Lynch and De Luce report that the Trump White House's effort to make a public intelligence choice over missiles fired with Houthi is intended to influence not only the internal audience but also the United Nations. Here is another parallel with the sale of the Iraq War. Specifically, it evokes the presentation to the Security Council in February 2003 of Secretary of State Colin Powell, who, against Powell's own better judgment and contrary to the judgment of the US intelligence community. UU., Presented some fragments intended to persuade people that the existing alliance between Iraq and Al Qaeda really existed.
Such misuse of intelligence means that foreign policy is being made on the basis of wrongly mistaken premises. The work of public sales worsens the misunderstanding, both because misperceptions are infused to a wider audience and because sellers who are strongly committed to their cause – as was the case of the main promoters of the Iraq war – come to believe your own propaganda. .
Misuse also represents a subversion of the proper function of intelligence agencies. Intelligence is supposed to inform lawmakers to help them make decisions they have not yet made. Agencies do not exist to be tools to publicly sell policies that have already been made.
The Trump administration is not the first to commit such misuse, but the misuse conforms to a pattern of how Trump has handled other departments and government agencies. That pattern, which includes many appointments of senior officials at Fox-Running-the-Hennhouse, has been one of subverting rather than executing the mission of the agencies.
Paul R. Pillar, in his 28 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, rose up to be one of the agency's top badysts. He is the most recent author of Why America does not understand the world . (This article first appeared as a blog post on the National Interest website, reprinted with the permission of the author)