Everyone is so upset about the unreliable intelligence that Bush used to justify attacking Iraq. First, there are WMD’s. Then there are no WMD’s. Now we’re not even really looking for them. What’s that all mean?
To help us understand, I decided to interview an experienced spy to try to get the low down. To protect our agents everywhere, I will only refer to this experienced spy as “XS”.
LB: So, XS, what’s it like being a spy in a foreign country?
XS: It’s very exhilarating. Just knowing that you could be found out at any moment and then summarily executed is a huge rush.
LB: Is that why you got into the business?
XS: Oh no, I originally was hooked up with these drug… uh, no. I signed up to serve my country.
LB: I see. Anyway, the main reason for this interview is to determine what constitutes reliable and unreliable intelligence. What sort of intelligence do you consider unreliable?
XS: As a rule, the kind of intelligence that causes people to buy extended warrantees or pet insurance is pretty unreliable. Those people really need remedial life beatings.
LB: That’s not the kind of intelligence to which I’m referring.
XS: I know. That’s just a little spy humor. For the most part, intelligence is considered reliable based on the supporting documents and the number of sources who make the claim. If one person says it, it is unreliable. If a thousand people say it, it is very reliable.
LB: So, if a thousand people say that President Bush is like Hitler, you would consider that reliable?
XS: Maybe. We would have to see how many other people said something different.
LB: In your opinion, what happened to the Iraq intelligence used to support the war?
XS: Well, Iraq spent a lot of effort trying to boast that they were all bad-assed. Since enough of them said it and they were sneaking around a lot like they were hiding something, we had little choice but to believe them at the time.
LB: Even though you had no direct evidence that they had weapons?
XS: I dare you to go into your local bank with your hand in your pocket and yell, “I’ve got a gun!” and see if they wait for actual proof before the guard blows your head off.
LB: Good point. Are you suggesting that we didn’t know for sure that they had weapons of mass destruction?
XS: Hell, I suggest that I don’t know if the United States has weapons of mass destruction. I know I’ve never seen any. All I’ve ever seen is movies of weapons. Isn’t it odd that all the descriptions of nuclear weapons that you read always say, “We’re not telling you the final detail that would make this work because that is top secret.”? Makes you wonder if there are actually such things.
LB: Surely, we had the atomic bombs used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
XS: If there are such places.
LB: Back to the topic at hand, do you feel that we had enough intelligence to support the invasion of Iraq?
XS: Any time I find out a secret about another country, I have to assume that I have only caught a glimpse of a small part of the larger truth. If someone thought that there was a hint of WMD’s in Iraq, the assumption would have to be that there is even more there.
LB: So in the end…
XS: So in the end, a government that must protect its people must sometimes ere on the side of caution. Iraq wanted to talk a tough game; it put them on their butt.
LB: And that’s all there is too it?
XS: Oh no. If you want to be really paranoid about it, you can think about how the United States has been manipulating that region for a long time. Then you can think that Saddam was actually an American operative whose job it was to give the U.S. a reason to establish a presence there for the purpose of controlling the oil and to disrupt Islamic culture. Of course, you’d have to be really paranoid to believe any of that.
LB: Right. Well, thank you very much agent XS. I appreciate your time.
That ended my interview with XS, the spy. He brought out some interesting points, the most notable of which is that all intelligence is unreliable and that’s just tough. Anyone who expects that our spies can walk right in and learn everything about everything is deluding himself or herself. If you’ll excuse me, agent XS seems to have taken a cyanide capsule and I need to get him to a hospital.