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Published 7 years ago by socialiguana with 3 Comments

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  • FivesandSevens (edited 7 years ago)

    I don't doubt that the higher-ups altered reports to fit the party line, that's been all too common for decades, and I think that's wrong and bad for the country. But a dear friend of mine used to work in this field, with CENTCOM and such, and I also think that the stories he often tells about that world are useful context for this article.

    Basically they boil down to this: intelligence analysts are usually headstrong, often vain people who had to throw a lot of elbows and join a lot of cliques to get where they are, and they almost all have ideological axes to grind (neo-cons, lib-interventionists, neo-realists, anti-Muslims, pro-Army, pro-Navy, etc.). That's why my friend quit and went to academia - too much infighting. Such ideological diversity is OK, because theoretically the top brass wants to hear from all sides on these things. But in fact they often don't. Also distorting the process is the fact that the analysts' careers depend a good deal on the realization of the policies they recommend, not their correctness as analyses. The reports they are upset about being censored (still wrong if true; I'm not defending that) are very likely 'white papers' advancing their subjective views on the available data and the future - views that have wrapped up in them their whole professional-ideological identities, the influence of networks of supporters, future book contracts, academic reputations, promises of advancement, think tank jobs, etc. The effect is that their ideological stances and pride tend to guide their analyses and recommendations, and they get really steamed and nervous when their views are not well-received. I'm not suggesting that's the case here - I have no way to know that - but I do think it's worth noting that a bunch of pissed-off intelligence analysts throwing their weight around and invoking Stalin to describe the environment at CENTCOM is not automatically a sign of the death of objective decision-making in foreign policy. Frankly, if purely objective decision-making or analysis ever existed in that part of the intelligence world, it's been a very long time since it was the norm.

    TL;DR: From what I'm told by someone who knows, CENTCOM is a seething mass of egos, with mismanagement at the top (which the article suggests)and systemic petulance in the analyst class (which the article does not mention).

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