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The threat of politicized intelligence

James Bailey
Mansoor Ijaz, an American of Pakistani origin, negotiated Sudan's offer of counterterrorism assistance to the Clinton administration in 1996 and 1997 and jointly authored the blueprint for a ceasefire of hostilities between Indian security forces and militant Islamists in Kashmir in July and August 2000.

If new US National Security Adviser Thomas E. Donilon needs a reminder of how stark the enemy threat is, he need look no further than today's discovery of printer cartridges rigged like explosive devices aboard UPS airliner cargo holds that left Yemen bound for Jewish Synagogues in the United States. A dry run? You bet. And not just to test the holes in air cargo security systems, but to test the reaction time and responsiveness of our national security apparatus.

The backroom maneuvering that led to Donilon's ascent and the departure of his predecessor, Gen. James L. Jones (USMC Ret), is a dangerous reminder of what happens when politics enters the world of intelligence gathering, analysis and policymaking. Donilon, whose reputation as a backroom Democratic Party wheeler dealer precedes him, would do well now to shed that skin and get down to the serious business at hand in containing and controlling threats that are approaching four-dimensional complexity against American--and global--security interests.

History is replete with bad decisions made by men and women charged with securing America who lamely, selfishly and often purposefully politicized intelligence for narrow political objectives. Those failures should serve as a reminder to Donilon and the team he assembles that America's enemies are lurking and waiting for any sign of weakness to attack us. And attack us they will.

During both the Clinton and Bush presidencies, political machinations repeatedly overtook good judgment in assessing the vast amounts of intelligence gathered by the most formidable surveillance apparatus the world has ever known. Bill Clinton repeatedly ignored warnings and advice from people in and out of government about the storm brewing inside Islam's radical fringe. On September 11, 2001, the hypothetical threat--ignored and politicized for so many years--became a harsh reality. We are living with the consequences of that misjudgment today.

Much of the failure to deal with militant Islam inside the Clinton presidency came from his national security team, which (with the exception of former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke) had little practical experience with military campaigns, counterterrorism strategies, guerrilla warfare tactics or other facets so critical to ensuring modern-day security. They repeatedly, and with increasing stridency, politicized intelligence gathering, analysis and policy responses. Sudan, on which I write from personal knowledge and experience, was a prime example of what America can never afford to allow again.

In February 1996 Sudan's dictator, Omar Hasan El Bashir, pinched by US economic sanctions, offered to trade Osama bin Laden's freedom in return for US economic sanctions on Khartoum being removed to allow development of Sudan's oil riches. President Clinton refused the entreaty, arguing the US did not have any evidence of crimes committed by bin Laden against the United States and therefore had no grounds to arrest him or have him extradited from Sudan to the US. Yet evidence of bin Laden's complicity in attacks against US interests prior to 1996 existed. Unfortunately, the evidence existed only in CIA files that Clinton never bothered to read with any regularity because he did not trust the intelligence community. The CIA had the names of two suspected Somali operatives, one of whom--Abu Talha al-Sudani--was a leading Al Qaeda explosives expert who had helped shoot down Black Hawk helicopters in Mogadishu in October 1993. Al Sudani was married to a Somali woman. The evidence of al-Sudani's complicity and ties to bin Laden (who had trained him in Sudan) would have led to an indictment of the terror master in a New York minute.

In 1997, the Sudanese offered up their intelligence files on bin Laden, Al Qaeda and other Muslim extremist groups to the FBI and CIA, this time without conditions. In those files, detailed data existed about men (among them Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, who traveled frequently to Germany to obtain electronic equipment for Al Qaeda, and Mamoun Darkazanli, a Syrian trader and Al Qaeda's accountant) who later formed the Hamburg Al Qaeda cell that sheltered Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi, two of the pilots that slammed US airliners into the World Trade Center on September 11th.

I negotiated that offer and hand-carried Bashir's letter from Khartoum to Washington in April of that year. Six months later, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright accepted the offer--only to be overruled a few days later by Samuel R. Berger, Clinton's national security adviser at the time, and Susan E. Rice, then the incoming assistant secretary of state for East Africa. That a decision resulting from an in-depth interagency government process could be overruled by a narrow White House clique (because of personal misgivings about Sudan's veracity, or the agendas of American allies in the region that wanted to break up Sudan, or the political infighting that erupted between Berger and Albright about operational boundaries and limits on authority) clearly showed the dangers of politicizing intelligence and making policy on the basis of feel rather than fact.

In February 2003, a man of no less stature than Gen. Colin Powell got caught in the same trap when he appeared as President George W. Bush's secretary of state in front of the world at the United Nations. He argued that Saddam Hussein was removing Mobile Production Facilities for biological weapons of mass destruction from Iraq, and that as a result of incontrovertible American "evidence", the world had a moral obligation to go in and remove Saddam from power. The trailers were later found to have no trace of biological warfare. No weapons of mass destruction were ever found in Iraq. The narrow clique that ruled White House policymaking at the time (Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, etc) simply bulldozed friend and foe alike into supporting the Iraq invasion because they had a world view, facts be damned to hell. A trillion dollars later, with an Iraqi nation decimated by war and mishandled in its aftermath, America finally decided to leave well enough alone and bring its soldiers home.

Is that the best we can do today with the bright minds we have in America? Internal cohesion and smooth operations of the national security team based on feel-good backhanding is no replacement for hard analysis of facts on the ground. Donilon needs to crack that whip first, not last--and he needs to do it fast. America needs a security apparatus led by men and women who seek truth and are compelled to convert that truth, whatever it may be and wherever it may lead, into a set of rationalized and actionable data that allows the president to make informed decisions.

Politicized intelligence was the Achilles heel of many a past president, with disastrous consequences emerging every single time. President Obama must insure that the principal legacy left by his outgoing national security adviser--integrity of the intelligence analysis and policy-response process, and a strategic vision for securing America against an ever growing array of threats--remains the baseline from which America makes its national-security policy decisions. If he does not, he may find one day soon that the very terrorists he was elected to thwart have come home to roost.

By Mansoor Ijaz

 |  October 29, 2010; 5:47 PM ET |  Category:  Bad leadership , Change management , Crisis leadership , Federal government leadership , Foreign Affairs , Presidential Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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My sons would gladly defend America's constitutional freedoms, but never oil company interests.

Posted by: mongolovesheriff | November 2, 2010 1:53 PM

Mr. Mansour Ijaz writes " That a decision resulting from an in-depth interagency government process could be overruled by a narrow White House clique (because of personal misgivings about Sudan's veracity, or the agendas of American allies in the region that wanted to break up Sudan, or the political infighting that erupted between Berger and Albright about operational boundaries and limits on authority) clearly showed the dangers of politicizing intelligence and making policy on the basis of feel rather than fact." That is a correct assessment. But, cannot Mansour Ijaz, who rightly claims "personal knowledge and experience" of Sudan's diplomatic demarches and of the dynamics of American geopolitical muscle-flexing, the oil corporations' rabid wheeling and dealing, and political Islam's frenzy, decide which one of the three reasons he postulates for the over-ruling of the intelligence agenicies' recommendations was the right one? For my part, I know full well that it was "the agendas of American allies in the region that wanted to break up Sudan" that was the main cause. I was myself, at that time and even earlier, an insider of sorts to these devilish machinations, having worked long in the field of Pan-African monetary cooperation and economic development, and having lived the Iranian Revolution and almost killed myself lecturing and writing against American manipulation of Sunni/Shi'a differences to leverage Saddam Hussein against Iran in late 1979 and plunge the region in an 8-year fratricidal war. I loved the North America (I write from Canada) of the 1970's because neither I, nor those I identify with, was at the receiving end of the Vietnam War. Today I have difficulty speaking about North America in the terms of endearment in which Mr. Mansour Ijaz does. Yet, I am very much a world citizen the way Senator Ray McGovern is, or Tom Engelhardt, Naom Chomsky, Juan Cole and many other enlightened observers, commentators, actors and militants are.

Posted by: FUZZYTRUTHSEEKER | November 2, 2010 1:09 PM

""No weapons of mass destruction were ever found in Iraq."

Not true.

Some 500-600 artillery shells and rocket warheads filled with chemical agents were in fact found in Iraq by US forces. All were pre-Desert Storm vintage weapons.

This is normal for chemical weapons. Because the toxic agents are also caustic, they degrade their containers, so they aren't loaded until just prior to use.

So all Saddam needed to do once the oil-for-food sanctions broke down was to whip up a new batch of chemicals and fill new shells. That's the easy part.

The 500-600 weapons I mentioned above were all extremely dangerous in their partially-degraded state. Several of them were used in roadside bombs against US troops, quite possibly without the insurgents realizing what exactly they had their hands on.

POSTED BY: ZZIM | OCTOBER 29, 2010 7:28 PM"

Wrong, those artillery shells that were "found" were already accounted for before the invasion. We should know, we gave it to them to use against Iran. There were no new nukes or weapons found, nothing that would constitute the dire "mushroom cloud" scenario that Ms. Rice kept screeching about.

If there was anything found, the Republicans would have made every effort to keep it in the news for as long as they could. Why else did the motive for the war in Iraq shift from WoMD to liberating Iraqis?

The U.N. weapons inspector couldn't find any and OUR weapons inspector also couldn't find anything.

Frankly, sending our young men and women off to Iraq should have been grounds of impeachment. Too bad the Democrats didn't have the balls to do it.

Posted by: ClandestineBlaze | October 31, 2010 11:39 PM

Do ya' mean like when our muslim in chief won't prosecute the filthy stinking subhuman anima muslim terrorist from Ft Hood?

Posted by: carlbatey | October 31, 2010 9:32 PM

More proof that we should be investigating, prosecuting, persecuting, interrogating, torturing and executing all muslim terrorists,eveywhere, all the time, without regard for legalisms or borders.

Posted by: carlbatey | October 31, 2010 8:39 PM

Synagogues are exploding left and right

It’s crazy chaotic…

Actually nothing is happening…..

Posted by: Rubiconski | October 31, 2010 6:51 PM

The scenario of using a fully loaded airplane as a weapon had been used in vulnerability assessments by both parties long before 9/11. The reason nothing was done, by either parties, was the enormous cost, bother, and public outrage if either the Clinton or Bush administrations had tried to enact something like we have now before 9/11. I'd still like to see what it was that Sandy Berger, National Security Adviser to Clinton, thought so damning that he would swipe it from top secret files and hide it in a construction site. Prosecution claimed he only took copies, but the National Archives admitted that Berger had unescorted access to any number of original documents, that if he took any, we would never know. And he gave up his license to practice law so that he wouldn't be cross examined by anybody form the bar association about his actions. Of course, these days, Clinton is busy asking Democratic nominees not to run so that an 'independent' can win in Florida.

Posted by: Georgetowner1 | October 31, 2010 5:46 PM

In the realm of real threats to Americans, terrorism ranks very far down the list. However, the attacks of 09/11/01 emotionally traumatized many and empowered many others to use fear-mongering as a way of pursuing other agendas, such as invading and occupying Iraq. Terrorism, from whatever source, is a problem among many problems. However, it is utterly irrational to treat it as the be-all and end-all of America's concerns in the world.

Posted by: ozma1 | October 31, 2010 3:42 PM

Not atypically, there is much revisionist history from the comments. 9/11 would never have come to frution if Klinton had pursued Bin Laden when given the opportunity. Much like the gruesome "Black Hawk Down" situation, the Klinton administration pulled a "cut and run" - too scared to use power.

As for "adults" in the Obama administration, this marks the FOURTH attempted or successful terror attack on Obama's watch. Had it not been for ineptitude of the terrorist, the Christmas Day bombing of the Delta flight near Detroit would have been catastrophic. Then there has been the deafening silence after the Ft. Hood massacre by an Islamic terrorist on US homeland. The mainstream media were scared to death to note the terrorists name - and the Obama administration had received multiple warnings about Hasan but the US Army was paralyzed by the infusion of political correctness and deference paid to radical Islam with this administration. Obama feels free to call out political "enemies" for pandering political commercials and events, but does not have the fortitude to protect America from true enemies such as readical Islam and Iran.

For those who feel emboldened to dissect the poster's column based on feeble political vagaries and fantasies, you have no capability to offer disciplined insight into the culture of terror nor first-hand experience in navigating the world of terror-minded enemies. Pay heed to his words and if you doubt them then act on your convictions, surrender your passport and live and move in the world from which he writes.

Posted by: i155133 | October 31, 2010 3:20 PM

Hmm, since it was George W Bush's admin that got many warnings about 9/11, and NOT Clinton's admin, I stopped reading the article after just a couple of paragraphs.

I mean, it's a great topic of incredibly significant importance to our nation and the world, but when an author using an article about politically-based intelligence to promote a politically-based fabrication, I just gotta laugh!

Posted by: Barry_H_Entai | October 31, 2010 2:15 PM

I agree with gcase1: the Bush/Cheney fearmongering model of issuing politically-motivated weekly orange alerts got them re-elected in 2004; then, the alerts stopped. They then continued to lie about everything involving the Iraq war, including why we got into it

Meanwhile, the adults in the Obama Administration, and the Federal employees in the CIA, FBI, TSA and the military, that the Republicans like to trash all the time, have to date successfully dealt with threats and attacks that the Bush/Cheney team enhanced by their illegal war in Iraq and their lack of prosecution of the one in Afghanistan.

Posted by: dozas | October 31, 2010 11:50 AM

Good article. However, once again the liberal extremists are not willing to listen to, or accept the truth. America's security is to dear and to fragile to be run by political hacks who owe their allegiance to a political party, not the country.

Posted by: mike85 | October 31, 2010 11:47 AM

Obama politicizing intelligence?

Wow, did everyone forget Cheney/Bush's first

Their entire first term consisted of terrorizing the American public with Orange
alerts - almost all politicized(e.g.
Ashcroft shoe bomber press conference in
Russia). Also these 'alerts' were almost
always timed to blunt a damaging news story or to win elections and justify a
war of choice against a country that did not attack us..

The American public doesn't need to be played by fearmongers like this. All we
need is for our govt & intelligence agencies to protect us - not terrorize us
with 'alerts'

Posted by: gcase1 | October 31, 2010 11:25 AM

The Sudanese government was, at the time, on the list of official state sponsors of terrorism against the US. Does anyone really believe they would have been serious about a deal with the US?

The 9/11 Commission and FactCheck.org both report this dubious claim by Ijaz, who appears to have a political ax to grind.

In fact, Richard Clark, who the author here praises, disputed this 'fact' in his testimony before the 9/11 commission.

The WP publishing this drivel without presenting the 'facts' as at least in dispute is an insult to journalism.

Posted by: TheHillman | October 31, 2010 10:05 AM

It's Halloween and the fright creation machine is operating at full throttle.

The show will go on at airports across the nation. Are we any more secure because of it? Not much.

Our very expensive super secret intelligence agencies have always given us flawed information. Why should we trust them now?

Posted by: samsara15 | October 31, 2010 8:28 AM

From a supposed intelligence person talking about depoliticizing intelligence this guy puts out a hit piece on Clinton as the reason for Bush inaction. He never even mentions Condi Rice...WHY? Possibly looking for future favor in GOP circles?

Sure, Clinton dropped the ball with Congress dogging him about a BJ for 2 years, but the data was given to Bush and he simply ignored it. OK, to accuse Clinton of negligence, but the Bush incompetence was the greater sin 'by far'.

From the moment UBL escaped from Tora Bora to the Bush official claiming, "Obama is killing too many terrorists", puts things in a different light when seen in conjunction with how many Saudis were allowed to leave the country right after 9/11 without being vetted.

I suppose this moron thinks Obama is wrong to be launching so many drone attacks in Pakistan now too, right? Even when the terrorists are caught between the Pakistan floods and the Afghan border. 40 killed yesterday...too many for you, arsehole?

How's this for intelligence; The Taliban/Al Qaeda are desperate for winter supplies on the Pakistan side due to the flooding. Not so easy now to get to Karachi with the bridges gone, is it? Now Taliban want to talk, but Obama/Petraeus keeping them pinned down and the Paki Taliban telling their Afghan brothers to go home. Voila! Now the Taliban want to talk. Really? Or do they just want to stop the bombing so they can resupply? Too bad because they getting slaughtered try to cross back into Afghanistan. Hopefully, Obama will not make Bush-league mistake and let them regroup.

Obama seems receptive to their peace overtures, but at the same time Petraeus is keeping them in the Paki mud. If they let up and the Taliban resupply then there will be a bloody spring for the coalition, so the best

Posted by: llocat333 | October 31, 2010 3:26 AM

All should "Ghost Wars" by the former WAPO reporter. In that book he mentions that the NSAdvisor for Clinton called off an operation against Bin Laden while UBL lived on a farm in Afghanistan.

Please check out the book.

Posted by: mll4440 | October 30, 2010 7:20 PM

Actually, it was Clinton's team which warned the Bush team that the largest threat to National Security was an AlQaeda attack and an attack on structures such as the World Trade Center. Lest not forget that it was when Bush was president that the attacks occured. Ergo, the failure to maintain National Security was that of the Republican national security apparatus and the Republican President: Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice, Cheny and their negligent policy-making associates. AR.

Posted by: ARTH1 | October 30, 2010 5:10 PM


Anyone that uses wikipedia for their sole reference on ANY topic should be bared from breathing. What a stupid mthr f'n moron to even use that as reference.

If you are going to use wiki, THAN CHECK THE FACTS with other references. AND OFFER THEM ALSO.

So any argument you make from this point forward is BULL CHIT. Otter mthr f'kn bull chit.

Shut up.
F off
And die

Posted by: LiberalBasher | October 30, 2010 4:42 PM

More children will be killed by their babysitters in the U.S. than will be killed by terrorists in 2010. More women in the U.S. will be killed by boyfriends, husbands, estranged husbands and/or boyfriends in 2010 than will be killed by terrorists.

I am of the opinion that those who opine on terrorism do so in large part because of a business-related self-interest.

Seems like it would be better to learn to prevent violence to women and children in the U.S. which is something we could actually do something about than to get our panties in bunch everytime somebody puts a bomb in their underwear (or toner catridge). As well as give up spending billions in our attemmpt to deal with the extremely unlikely event of real terrorism. We should all sign a pledge to not let "terrorism" terrorize us. Attune to reality and not to the "be very afraid" crowd who sells services to make us even more afraid.

A little courage and some basics in probability and rational thinking would certainly help.

Posted by: mickster1 | October 30, 2010 4:33 PM

This joker is clearly getting Mike confused with Tom Donilon -- doesn't anyone at the Post have access to Wikipedia? The Bin Laden deal the Sudanese allegedly offered Clinton is total bunk - anyone who posits it as fact clearly has a partisan ax to grind.

Posted by: creolebeth | October 30, 2010 3:25 PM

Pakistan is well understood by most to be more complex than meets the eye; for this reason, notions of ISI control of the uncontrollable or the need to obliterate the country with its over 150,000,000 citizens garner little attention as genuine contributions to discourse. The difficulty with Yemen is that the complexity is so dense as to be soporific; extremely wise people sometimes say bizarre things about the situation there. Of interest would be a Washington Post review of the internal difficulties facing this historically vital country.

Posted by: Martial | October 30, 2010 3:03 PM

Thomas E. Donilon sounds like his experience has been nothing more than being a ward-healer and fund-raiser. Where he was found to have the knowledge to get a star in the intel community is beyond my comprehension.
President Obama had a number one person, who happened to be a man of color adding to the President's desire to make this a rainbow administration, with the necessary number of years in the IC as a DDO at DIA and as the CG at Ft. Huachuca Army Intel. He was later, too damn much later, named for a TSA slot, but was shot down because he had a consulting business after he retired. SO WHAT!!!
President Obama, if you have the two marbles between your legs, you will go and find MG Harding who supported you throughout your campaign, find Thomas E. Donilon a political job, and turn intelligence analysis back over to the pros. Here ends the lesson.

Posted by: jfregus | October 30, 2010 2:11 PM

Why are many of you on the left still talking about who was to blame for 911?
It was Osama bin laden and his terrorist group.Could it have been prevented? Probably, but every so called dot would have to have been connected. We weren't that good and Osama knew it. That is why he succeeded.
Our commercial planes would not have been able to be taken over and crashed into the World Trade Center if Box Cutters were not allowed on planes and or the doors to the cockpit were strong enough to keep out intruders and kept locked during flights.
We were lack and not really paying attention. Just going through the motions.

Posted by: nychap44 | October 30, 2010 1:53 PM

"because they had a world view, facts be damned to hell."

Not quite. They had signal intelligence they did not want to use so they looked for the same information in humint.

But Saddam was working to deceive us. He succeeded.

This author just wants to discredit the President.


Posted by: GaryEMasters | October 30, 2010 1:06 PM

I think it's unfair to judge Clinton with 20/20 hindsight on THIS issue. There are plenty of other mistakes that Clinton made that had forseeable consequences- NAFTA, letting China into the WTO, and deregulating the banking industry. But this is not one of them because in 1998, prior to his "declaration of war" against the United States, Bin Laden was a hero in Saudi Arabia and had many friends there who would have tried to protect him. You know, the same type of people who scuttled out of the US after 9/11 on private planes without being questioned by the FBI.

But there are many other cases in history where political operatives shed their reptilian skins and stood tall not small when the times called for it. Granted, Clinton and the junior Bush were not among those types of people, but we'll see if this man Obama has nominated is among those who put American interests first ahead of parties and pressure groups, or whether he will scuttle away into the night after Obama's term is over.

Posted by: stillaliberal | October 30, 2010 12:43 PM

What I find interesting is that the Sudanese thought Bin Laden was important enough to be traded for the lift of sanctions,which I must add,were championed by Republicans and their evangelical friends ,eager to create a Christian country in South Sudan.
But Hey, what would a muslim dictator, brought to power with the help of a radical Islamic movement, knows about Radical Muslims ?

Posted by: marioliggi | October 30, 2010 12:37 PM

Funny how a purely political opinion attacks the other side for supposedly being political.

Posted by: Provincial | October 30, 2010 12:36 PM

But... the (alleged) terrorist was *caught.* This was a win for Team Obama. Politicized intelligence is a problem, sure. But this really isn't an example of politicized intelligence. This is an example of a successful law enforcement operation. Where's the praise for catching this guy before he even was able to talk to al Qaeda?

Posted by: PMMJ | October 30, 2010 12:35 PM

A snide rightwing snipe at Democrats, decrying the politicization of intelligence.

Sounds like a Krauthammer column.

Posted by: info53 | October 30, 2010 12:05 PM

Lest everyone forget, EVERYONE (including top Democrats such as John Kerry who saw the same intelligence reports that Bush saw) called for the forced removal of Saddam as a threat to US and world security.

You can mouth off all you want about the August chatter prior to 9/11, but they probably get hundreds or thousands of these every day (most of them turning out to be not credible). 20/20 hindsight is easy.

Posted by: infrequentposter | October 30, 2010 11:18 AM

You mention Clinton in a big way but leave out BUSH?

Um, may I remind you of the August warnings about September 11th that were IGNORED BY BUSH when they were spelled out so clearly in that President's Daily Briefing? He wanted to get back to Crawford where he spent some 450 days of his presidency, on his "ranch" clearing brush. Thus our agencies did not connect the dots the way they could have if the alert had been sounded loudly!

You do not deign to mention that? Talk about politicization of intelligence! That was a prime example of an administration that doubtless wanted some form of attack (though I'm not a conspiracy theorist) that would allow them to attack Iraq. That's politicization, my friend.

You have no credibility because YOU just POLITICIZED intelligence. You don't want to mention/criticize Bush for his huge faults because you hope to get a job from the next GOP administration, I suspect.

Posted by: baileywickFL | October 30, 2010 11:07 AM

Removing Saddam from power was the right thing to do. Period. There were far more reasons to do so than mere WMD. Bush gave a speech to the UN in September of 02 listing those reasons. Saddam's entire diplomatic corps was filled with terrorists or their facilitators. The world is a far safer place now that he is gone. And the Middle East may actually be entering a period of relative stability.

Posted by: theduke89 | October 30, 2010 11:00 AM

Washington Post is a right wing tool, like much of corporate media, spearheading the onset of fascism in this country. Just look at the all the right wing candidates running and their policy positions. The term 'fascism' is defined as collusion between business, government, and the police and military, with media acting as the megaphone. All the ingredients are their. But Huey Long said some time ago, we will continue to call it a democracy.

Posted by: bluethunder1 | October 30, 2010 10:38 AM

Politicized intelligence was the hallmark of the George Walker Bush tyrannical administration. Oh wait, my bad, it wasn't politicized it was legitimatized by his other father.

Posted by: whocares666 | October 30, 2010 10:21 AM


Posted by: walker1 | October 30, 2010 10:06 AM

Is this Mansoor Ijaz in fact Ijaz Mansoor who's advice is said to have got WSJ Reporter Daniel Pearl Killed?

Posted by: walker1 | October 30, 2010 9:58 AM

Pathetic rewriting of history. Aims it all at Clinton, when all the damage happened on Bush's watch- despite clear, continuing warning from clinton's intelligence people.

Pat Dobson's evangelicals led the fight to impeach Clinton for involvement in the Washington politico pastime of sex. His announced goal- to disable Clinton from effective leadership. When Clinton tried to point to terrorist issues- and bomb al quaida- the Dobson crowd bullied him as trying to divert attention from his alleged crime- of lying about cheating.

Intelligence repeatedly warned Bush, who ignored it. Shortly before 9-11, an operative flew to texas to hand deliver a warning of imminent strike. Bush: you've covered yourself. go back to washington. He went back to chopping wood.

Posted by: auntywbush | October 30, 2010 9:57 AM

Maybe it's just a weird coincidence. Yesterday's WaPo had a shocking story about the one year cost of counter-terrorism at $80 Billion.....nearly $7 Billion per month.

By close of business Friday, Obama's touting the discovery of explosive ink cartridges.

Okie Dokey !!

Posted by: bandcyuk | October 30, 2010 9:37 AM


Hey Democrats,

President Obama spends his weekend wrapping up what he himself calls a bruising campaign season.




Posted by: kstobbe1 | October 30, 2010 9:15 AM

Now we have been reminded of the biggest reason of all, why this Obama Group has to go. After being fed so many lies and mis-truths by the "party in power" it is logical to fear for our safety having them in charge...

Posted by: Illinois4 | October 30, 2010 8:18 AM

Intelligence field agents as well as analysts at the agencies are all trained well enough never to tell politicians anymore than they can digest, if they want to keep their jobs thats what they must do (except for the occasional "volunteer" who falls upon his sword to get the word out about critical matters), they even do psych profiles of the receivers of intelligence so as to communicate it matched with those persons' personalities, and only the most experienced guys usually handle the briefings and very diplomatically at that - because more often than not most politicians "can't handle the truth". lol.

The unfortunate consequence of that is that it takes years to correct faulty intelligence. Faulty intelligence is only corrected in retrospect (after the damage is already done and its too late), but thats politics. Out of the 4500 something soldiers who died in Iraq 4000 would alive today if it wasn't for additional faulty intelligence that has yet to be corrected.

Posted by: darkasnight1234 | October 30, 2010 7:41 AM

No one politicized intel more than Bush's Neocons and Fox & Frightwing radio - duping the public into the IraK Scam that has killed 5,000 of our Finest and cost OVER ONE TRILLION dollars.....and counting!

Bush lied - soldiers died!

Posted by: angie12106 | October 30, 2010 6:53 AM

this countries intel was politisized .beginning with jfk. going from first place to 5th place in the community. this caused by criminal leaking of information and traitors in the military as well as civilian members.none of these scum has been or ever will be executed.does a muslim have to tell the infidel how stupid they are?

Posted by: pofinpa | October 30, 2010 6:01 AM

More than anything, Mansoor Ijaz demonstrates the risk of letting someone use the pages of the Washington Post for self promotion writing on a subject about which he knows so little that he has not yet mastered the vocabulary to discuss it in a reasonable matter. Important topic; really bad presentation of it.

Posted by: DCNative41 | October 30, 2010 3:29 AM

Well, the author implies that the National Security office is NOT, by it's own nature, political or/and politicized.

That's glaring error in his assumptions. Everything is political and politicized in government, especially those agencies charged with protecting the elite's corporation interests here and around the globe.

Posted by: coqui44 | October 30, 2010 1:13 AM

This was a well written warning and very apt analysis. This may be a shot across Donilon's bow. Donilon comes into his job as a partisan politician, with reputation for touting left-wing agendas. I would bet that if anyone tries to politicize intelligence, twist it to fit an agenda, it will be he..and he works for you know who. We'll see what happens but I don't have a good feeling about Donilon; God help our country.

Posted by: wjc1va | October 30, 2010 1:07 AM

I stopped reading after this part, "Mansoor Ijaz, an American of Pakistani origin".

Carry on.

Posted by: cleancut77 | October 30, 2010 12:02 AM

Naive apologizing doesn't seem to have worked. 74 more hours until the end of the socialist dream

Posted by: carlbatey | October 29, 2010 11:56 PM

To me this piece appears more a self promotion by Mr Mansoor than an actual analysis of the security environment.

Posted by: syedahaq2000 | October 29, 2010 10:10 PM

There was an interesting Oregon Field Guide about cattle theft in remote areas of range land in Eastern Oregon. The ranchers had a similar dilemma to this idea of "politicized intelligence." That is, the ranchers declared themselves as very independent, and didn't really trust the government to crack down on cattle thieves. Likewise, we have a number of citizens who do not trust the federal government to provide "actionable intelligence." The sherrif wants to help the Oregon ranchers catch the cattle thieves, but they don't want to pay any more taxes to hire more deputies. Likewise, we have plenty of "conservatives" who don't want to pay more in taxes for more intelligence agents. Some folks even feel the agents are incompetent; or the politicians don't listen to "actionable intelligence reports." The political calculus for conservatives seems to be "stop spending" and "call out the shortcomings of underfunding critical agencies." Until the political class takes intell agents seriously, and funds the ops we will continue to see gridlock. A cynic might say, "you get what you pay for...nothing for nothing."

What if we showed some class, and said, "thank you" to our agents, you stopped an attempted terror attack. You know, like somebody did a good job...

Posted by: rmorris391 | October 29, 2010 8:51 PM

"...is a dangerous reminder of what happens when politics enters the world of intelligence gathering, analysis and policymaking."

Oh, would that you were around to warn us when the Bush/Cheney duo put their own politics into the reading of what was going on in Iraq - the weapons of mass distruction that weren't there, the links to Al Qaeda that weren't there. It might have saved over 4000 American lives, a trillion dollars, and we may have actually gotten those responsible for the 9/11 killings if we had focused on where the threat really was. Tens of thousands of Iraqi's would be alive.

And worst of all, we have many more Muslims who hate us and fear us - they have reason, thanks to Bush/Chaney. That administration increased the threat to the security of the U.S. by their sheer stupidity in starting the war with Iraq and then ineptitude in fighting it.

But, that having been said, Obama needs to be careful. This writer obviously thinks highly of Gen. Jones and doesn't think much of Donilon. I worry about the "toe the line" attitude of Obama, but does anyone really think Bush would have kept on someone who blabbed to the news establishment about war stratefy? Well, then again, maybe he would since Bush didn't do anything about the Vice President who helped out a CIA operative.

Oh, well.

Posted by: amelia45 | October 29, 2010 8:38 PM

Politicized intelligence all too often results in lost lives and lost opportunities.
Politcial operatives advise and keep their eyes on popularity polls.
Seasoned and objective and intelligence professionals who are not beholden to any interest group have the ability to inform.

Posted by: P4Potomac | October 29, 2010 8:29 PM

Clinton was not believed when he lauched missles in the AlQueda caves during the monica-gate. But for some reason, everyone rallied around Bush when he obviously blew off all the warning signs on his watch. Now, Obama is going to be mocked for intercepting bombs from AlQueda.

The governance of our country is becoming a reality show. We got the "mean girls" from the tea party and the high heeled wonder from alaska. Who need Al queda for more drama than that?

Posted by: tmcproductions2004 | October 29, 2010 8:23 PM

so what are our incompetent political cowards going to do for our country? answer; NOTHING.

Posted by: pofinpa | October 29, 2010 8:19 PM

Hmm, so politicians play politics. Never knew...that is par for the course.

Posted by: mm14 | October 29, 2010 8:18 PM

Oh well done! At last an informed opinion that offers a realistic overview of the issues at hand. We need to act swiftly and decisively with the militant Islamics!

Posted by: GulfShoresMan | October 29, 2010 7:49 PM

"No weapons of mass destruction were ever found in Iraq."

Not true.

Some 500-600 artillery shells and rocket warheads filled with chemical agents were in fact found in Iraq by US forces. All were pre-Desert Storm vintage weapons.

This is normal for chemical weapons. Because the toxic agents are also caustic, they degrade their containers, so they aren't loaded until just prior to use.

So all Saddam needed to do once the oil-for-food sanctions broke down was to whip up a new batch of chemicals and fill new shells. That's the easy part.

The 500-600 weapons I mentioned above were all extremely dangerous in their partially-degraded state. Several of them were used in roadside bombs against US troops, quite possibly without the insurgents realizing what exactly they had their hands on.


Posted by: ZZim | October 29, 2010 7:28 PM

This information should not be public until our government understands the larger picture.
Now we will not since they know they have been had. This is simply an effort by our incompetent president to sway votes for Tuesday. Shame on him, politics before national security, play the race card, look like a terriost, call fellow citizens the enemy, on and on and on. We look shameful to the rest of the world.

Posted by: gone2dabeachgmailcom | October 29, 2010 7:27 PM

I have no idea why this column was written. The Obama administration successfully intercepted a threat. Why the ad hominem attack on Donilon?

Posted by: jbh3 | October 29, 2010 7:27 PM

You get to employ a carrot + stick approach when you are talking. When you isolate, it's just stick. So the opposite side hardens, and 3rd parties don't come over to your side of the matter.

- Balkingpoints / www

Posted by: RField7 | October 29, 2010 7:22 PM

Alas, the Obama Administration seems hyperpoliticized in all other things. Why should we have any hope that intelligence analysis will be any less skewed?

Not that the Republicans would be any better. I'm afraid this is a trend that cuts across partisan lines.

Posted by: Itzajob | October 29, 2010 6:56 PM

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