[ by Charles Cameron — that neither excited hope nor fear nor fixed opinion is a workable basis for sound judgment ]
For some reason, this two-year-old tale popped up in my twitter-stream today.
Here’s what Leon Panetta said in response to the CIA report on how the Jordanian AQ operative Dr. Humam al-Balawi managed to get himself invited into the Camp Chapman base in Khost, Afghanistan — despite warning from Jordanian intelligence — where he blew himself up, claiming the lives of seven CIA agents:
Isn’t that a bit like saying “The chocolate cake itself may have clouded some of the judgments made here”? You mean, their emotions clouded their judgment, don’t you, Mr Panetta?
On this occasion, the chocolate cake was al-Balawi’s indication that he could lead the CIA to Ayman al-Zawahiri …
Officer Failed to Warn C.I.A. Before Attack
Intelligence: Where Everyone Gets a Trophy
And now here’s a companion piece, from today’s publication of a Classified CIA Mea Culpa on Iraq:
Analysts tended to focus on what was most important to us — the hunt for WMD — and less on what would be most important for a paranoid dictatorship to protect. Viewed through an Iraqi prism, their reputation, their security, their overall technological capabilities, and their status needed to be preserved. Deceptions were perpetrated and detected, but the reasons for those deceptions were misread.
Intelligence is least intelligent when it’s blindsided by hopes, fears, and unquestioning assumptions.
What are our current blinders?