Sunday, March 20, 2005

Lies, Damned Lies, and the Bush Administration

(Hat Tip: Hunter at Daily Kos.)

Well, well, well. It would appear that the old "everybody agreed on such-and-such an intelligence issue" gambit ain't going to work anymore, at least not for the Bush administration.

Such an argument requires that information-sharing is going on, so that countries can vet their intelligence against each other. Even if no sharing is going on, at least that's something that can be trusted to be honest, and states can act with the full knowledge that while there may be knowledge being hidden, at least they know where they stand. You can't have both: you can't both hide your information and gain other's trust by sharing it.

Unless, of course, you're the current Executive. In which case, you LIE.

In an effort to increase pressure on North Korea, the Bush administration told its Asian allies in briefings earlier this year that Pyongyang had exported nuclear material to Libya. That was a significant new charge, the first allegation that North Korea was helping to create a new nuclear weapons state.

But that is not what U.S. intelligence reported, according to two officials with detailed knowledge of the transaction. North Korea, according to the intelligence, had supplied uranium hexafluoride -- which can be enriched to weapons-grade uranium -- to Pakistan. It was Pakistan, a key U.S. ally with its own nuclear arsenal, that sold the material to Libya. The U.S. government had no evidence, the officials said, that North Korea knew of the second transaction.

Pakistan's role as both the buyer and the seller was concealed to cover up the part played by Washington's partner in the hunt for al Qaeda leaders, according to the officials, who discussed the issue on the condition of anonymity. In addition, a North Korea-Pakistan transfer would not have been news to the U.S. allies, which have known of such transfers for years and viewed them as a business matter between sovereign states.
Ok, if one wants to split hairs, one could say that this "cover up" isn't technically a lie of commission, but of omission. It doesn't matter one whit, because this isn't about North Korea. What it IS is the United States no longer being a trustworthy intelligence-sharing and -gathering partner, because its allies can no longer trust it to not lie to cover up a key strategic ally.

It throws one of the underlying concepts of the entire intelligence community into doubt. Without honesty in the sharing of intelligence, every ally of the U.S. must ask itself whether the United States is "playing" them to isolate a foe or protect an ally. They'll ask that question, and the answer will be "we can't take that chance". They won't trust the U.S., and (therefore) the U.S. won't be able to trust them, because the Americans must realize that nobody likes to play the sucker. The United States has just lost all credibility in Asia, and I doubt it'll return any time soon.

Considering that the core of the War on Terrorism is and MUST BE intelligence gathering and sharing, this literally couldn't be a more foolish act.

I've said it before, I'll say it again... somewhere in Pakistan, Osama Bin Laden is laughing his ass off.

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