The Bush Administration would like for the American public to be able to feel secure in its leadership of intelligence gathering activity to protect them from dangers. However, the actual record is downright awful. Civil liberties of average citizens have suffered while credible intelligence meant to actually protect Americans may be the worst in many years.
In February 2001, many months before 9/11, the Bush Administration made the first requests with Internet providers for information about users according to some sources. Yet, the Bush Administration always holds up 9/11 and the claimed threat of terrorism to step far beyond intelligence activity that often tramples on the basic privacy of Americans.
In real areas of concern, the Bush Administration intelligence gathering record has actually been one of the worst of any major industrialized nation. Much of the intelligence about Iraq's claimed WMD threat that resulted in the 2003 war came from payments to Ahmed Chalabi and his brother. Chalabi was convicted in Jordan of the nation's biggest bank fraud scheme ever, and could never ever be considered as a credible source of information about Iraq. But Chalabi received regular payments from the U.S. for information that he appeared to largely make up. Chalabi continues to remain the leader of The Iraqi National Congress despite his criminal background and his pattern of falsehoods for payment by the U.S. intelligence community. Rather than using satellite or other high tech intelligence gathering, paying a convicted criminal like Chalabi became the main standard for the Bush Administration intelligence gathering to build the case for the 2003 Iraq War.
Recently, the U.S. told Israel that they could not detect any nuclear activity at the sites in Syria that were attacked after a raid from Israel. Israeli intelligence indicated differently. This week the Syrian government indicated that it was indeed a nuclear research site. Again American intelligence miserably was below the standards of another nation, this time little Israel.
This week in Portland, Oregon, with two smaller tests in Guam and Arizona, the Homeland Security Office, including Michael Chertoff have been carrying out a week long $25 million dollar test of emergency services to handle possible future threats such as "dirty bomb" attacks. The information collected from the tests was supposed to be secret so not to tip off potential terrorists who could plan around such attacks, but very poor security surrounding the event leaked a great deal of information to the main Oregon newspaper, THE OREGONIAN about the tests resulting in some widespread mistakes and failures as certain services were not in ready condition. Failure is bad enough with this test. But a real danger in a real disaster scenario.
In 1962, without the use of satellites, the Kennedy Administration detected a covert effort to smuggle Soviet missiles into Cuba, and the Cuban construction of deep missile silos hidden under dummy structures meant to look like new housing construction. Without the use of high technology, the Kennedy Administration had accurate information that protected Americans from a nuclear threat only 90 miles from the U.S. shores only by using U.S. spy plane over-flights and other primitive means. Today the Bush Administration has a wide array of high tech means to gather intelligence not available in the 1960's Kennedy days, but has so far proven itself very inept in important areas of military security and overly meddling in areas impacting the basic civil liberties of the average American with little security benefit.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!