From a reader:
I’m a big fan. This is your first really MAJOR blooper I’ve noticed:
“2. The failure to find WMDs is the material evidence (or lack thereof)
necessary to make this the worst intelligence blunder since Pearl Harbor.”
You should really read more about the history of WMD intelligence against
totalitarian regimes. It’s ALWAYS BEEN WRONG. There’s nothing new about
this. (And isn’t 9/11 a worse intellligence failure? But I digress.)
1. Against Stalin, the CIA estimate was off by five years — too late.
2. In India and Pakistan, the CIA not only underestimated their
capabilities, but also totally overlooked actual Indian preparations to
explode their first bomb.
3. In North Korea, Clinton’s CIA consistently underestimated their readiness
to go nuclear;
4. The CIA was apparently unaware of the AQ Khan network which spread nuke
technology to North Korea and Iran. (Khan worked for a Dutch nuclear
research institute and apparently just walked off with blueprints for
centrigures). The Dutch are apparently as idiotic on weapons security as we
are in Los Alamos.
We know it’s nearly impossible to uncover top secrets in totalitarian
countries. For that reason I’m surprised that YOU are surprised that we
were wrong about Saddam’s WMDs. You might recall that Saddam’s own frontline
officers expected OTHER units to have WMDs. It was always the next unit that
was supposed to have them. Saddam either lied to his troops, or his WMD
scientists lied to him, or both. Just like the Soviet Union, remember?