I've always thought that if Washington's Iraq War were a history play or perhaps a tragedy, on the model of Shakespeare, that the folks in Doug Feith's made-to-order intel shop at the Pentagon would be the dingbat comic relief, the antic if malevolent players who provide the theatrical diversion from the main rush of the drama's forward motion. And on this point the mammoth Senate intel report does not disappoint. Pages 304 to 312 of the report
provide some enlightening, depressing and even entertaining reading on that count.
From those pages, there's one point that caught my attention.
You'll remember that in recent days and weeks we've been harping again and again on this October 20, 2002 column
by Jim Hoagland in the Post
in which Hoagland praises the administration's mau-mauing of the CIA that had finally gotten Langley's analysts religion on Iraq, al Qaida, WMD and the rest of it.
In the course of that column, Hoagland notes that there were still some hold-outs against the new party line. And he gives the following example ...
Such misjudgments have continued until today. After four months of inconclusive debate following Sept. 11, the agency produced a new analysis last spring titled: "Iraq and al Qaeda: A Murky Relationship." It fails to make much of a case for anything, I am told. It echoes the views of Paul Pillar, the national intelligence officer for the Middle East and South Asia, and other analysts who have consistently expressed doubts that Iraq has engaged in international terrorism or trained others to do so since 1993.
Go read the pages I noted above to find out the backstory to that analysis or report, which makes Hoagland's mumbo look even more jumbo than it did before. It was cooked and coddled and rubbed and massaged and yet still it failed to meet Hoagland's outlandish requirements.
More details a little later.