American intelligence officer: leadership has no real comprehension of the ground truth

Tuesday, August 15, 2006 at 04:26 PM

A piece by Tom Lasseter for McClatchy Newspapers offers a pretty grim view of the current state of, and likely outcome in, Iraq. Yes, Mr. Mehlman, "adapt to win" indeed.

An anonymous++ American Intelligence officer offers the following:

"As an intelligence officer ... I have had the chance to move around Baghdad on mounted and dismounted patrols and see the city and violence from the ground," wrote one American military officer in Iraq. "I think that the greatest problem that we deal (besides the insurgents and militia) with is that our leadership has no real comprehension of the ground truth. I wish that I could offer a solution, but I can't. When I have briefed general officers, I have given them my perspective and assessment of the situation. Many have been surprised at what I have to say, but I suspect that in the end nothing will or has changed."

++The publisher is "withholding the officer's name to protect him from possible retaliation by his superiors or political appointees in the Pentagon for communicating with news media without authorization."

Other excerpts:

As security conditions continue to deteriorate in Iraq, many Iraqi politicians are challenging the optimistic forecasts of the governments in Baghdad and Washington, with some worrying that the rosy views are preventing the creation of effective strategies against the escalating violence.

Their worst fear, one that some American soldiers share, is that top officials don't really understand what's happening. Those concerns seem to be supported by statistics that show Iraq's violence has increased steadily during the past three years.

"The American policy has failed both in terms of politics and security, but the big problem is that they will not confess or admit that," said Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish member of parliament. "They are telling the American public that the situation in Iraq will be improved, they want to encourage positive public opinion (in the United States), but the Iraqi citizens are seeing something different. They know the real situation."

Shiite Muslim parliament member Jalaladin al Saghir had a similar view.

"All the American policies have failed because the American analysis of the situation is wrong; it is not related to reality," Saghir said. "The slaughtered Iraqi man on the street conveys the best explanation" for what's happening in Iraq.

When L. Paul Bremer, then the top U.S. representative in Iraq, appointed an Iraqi Governing Council in July 2003, insurgent attacks averaged 16 daily. When Saddam Hussein was captured that December, the average was 19. When Bremer signed the hand-over of sovereignty in June 2004, it was 45 attacks daily. When Iraq held its elections for a transitional government in January 2005, it was 61. When Iraqis voted last December for a permanent government, it was 75. When U.S. forces killed terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al Zarqawi in June, it was up to 90.

I have to say that I think Mr. Lasseter really is letting the U.S. leaders off too easily.  Call me naive, but I find it very hard to believe that Bush/Rice/Cheney/Rumsfeld have not been informed of the dire circumstances in Iraq, if not by their own commanders, surely by the new Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri Kamel al-Maliki.

How could you be the Prime Minister of a country in this state of chaos and not know it?  And what would the Prime Minister hope to accomplish by keeping the U.S. in the dark?

No, I buy the assessment of the conditions from the people on the ground.  I do not buy the implication that the White House is unaware.  Far more likely is that the White House, being as politically obsessed as this one is, is simply willing to try to keep the U.S. public in the dark until the day after the mid-term elections.

If some people die in some far off place because the policies can't be adjusted without ruining the party's chances in November, then, hey, you can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs.  Or any one of a hundred other cliched slogans that people like this use to avoid confronting the consequences of their actions.