Bring It On!

U.S. Concedes Uncertainty on North Korean Uranium Effort

March 1st, 2007 | by Craig R. Harmon |

The level of certainty with respect to the intelligence upon which the administration’s assessments regarding the nuclear programs of North Korea is, it is being admitted now, lower than the administration has been saying for years. This, it seems to me, is a positive sign since one of the problems with the case being made by the Bush administration in the run-up to the Iraq war involved expression of greater level’s of confidence in the intelligence from Iraq than was later judged to have been warranted, causing many critics to accuse the administration of lying to the nation and to Congress with the purpose of getting a resolution authorizing the use of military force in Iraq. The difference between what was said to have been thought to be true about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs and what was discovered to be true after the invasion was clear evidence that somewhere along the line, way too many conclusions were being drawn based upon information that was unreliable. One of the recommendations of the official study into those Iraq intelligence failures was that the Executive needs to push the intelligence agencies much harder to make clear how much of their estimates are based upon assumptions that may not be backed up with solid fact.

To read that someone is actually doing that today with regard to North Korea and that the administration is being more circumspect about its statements about North Korea’s nuclear program is encouraging. It appears that, six years into his Presidency, Bush is showing signs of learning from past mistakes.

The Washington Post has its own report on this story.

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  1. 10 Responses to “U.S. Concedes Uncertainty on North Korean Uranium Effort”

  2. By Paul Watson on Mar 1, 2007 | Reply

    Craig,

    And when they admit that about Iran, I’ll be impressed. But given how belligerent and certain they’ve been for years on North Korea, when they must have had this information that the intelligence wasn’t as good as they claimed, I can’t see it as the unadulterated good that you do. It does seem a pattern. Iraq, overstate the case. North Korea, overstate the case. Iran?

  3. By Blandly Urbane on Mar 1, 2007 | Reply

    One of the problems with “intelligence,” is always a certain amount of uncertainty.  When used by politicians it always has the possibility of being misread/misconstrued/soundbit.

    We all had/have issues with the “intelligence” community.  What bothers me is “intelligence” is always right on depending upon the side of the argument being made.  “Intelligence” bad as Bush used for Iraq, but “intelligence,” good if it hurts the admin.

     We have, or someone has a decision to make and what will it be?

  4. By Craig R. Harmon on Mar 1, 2007 | Reply

    Paul,

    “Unadulterated” is your word, not mine but I don’t see the downside here. They’ve been beligerant and certain about Iran’s role in Iraq and that certainty does go beyond what the evidence that we’ve seen so far will prove…although, even there, they are backing off on their certainty.

    Limiting our focus to North Korea, though, as my post was, I don’t see the bad here.

  5. By Jersey McJones on Mar 1, 2007 | Reply

    What “evidence?”

    JMJ

  6. By Craig R. Harmon on Mar 1, 2007 | Reply

    Urbane,

    You make a reasonable point. The problem with the public discussion of intelligence is, we know so little about what we’re talking about. We discuss the most recent leak to the New York Times and how terrible it is that the President would do such a thing or how terrible it was that the intelligence was leaked and how damaging it is to the national security but, the way I see it, we know squat. Even of the leaks, we only know what some leaker has decided to leak which may be very selective, the selection being done by someone who may have an agenda of his or her own.

    It seems natural, to me, in light of the tremendous intelligence failure that was the state of our pre-war knowledge of the Iraqi WMD programs, that the administration would be viewed with heightened skepticism. That heightened skepticism is a good thing. We DID go to war, a very costly one counted in lives, dollars, and international credibility and good-will, on the basis of bad intelligence. We don’t want to do that again or make a similar foreign policy decision, say, using military force against Iran, based upon faulty intelligence about the complicity of the Iranian regime. If Iraq has proven one thing to me, it is that we are not as strong as we have thought that we were when it comes to fighting an insurgency and terrorists. That, along with the waning political interest back home in fighting the fight, is a bit of reality that really does need to be taken into account before we make another decision involving military force.

  7. By Craig R. Harmon on Mar 1, 2007 | Reply

    Jersey,

    The evidence that we’ve seen: 1. the pictures purporting to be Iranian mortar shells, for example. The one’s we were told were Iranian but appear to have been made elsewhere, that may or may not have come directly from Iran, and which the Iranian regime may or may not have had a hand in sending into Iraq; 2. the shaped IEDs, that we were told were coming from Iran but which now are admitted to be being assembled in Iraq from parts from many places, including from within Iraq; 3. the actual Iranians which have been arrested within Iraq.

  8. By Jersey McJones on Mar 1, 2007 | Reply

    All you have there, Craig, is what you were told, and some pictures taken with only the control of those who told you.  In American law, that is called Hear-Say.  Inadmissible evidence.  You have nothing but pictures and words from those with a conflicted interest in the subject matter.

    How you could call that “evidence” is beyond me.  How many times do the people you believe have to be proven wrong for you to cease believing them?

    JMJ

  9. By Craig R. Harmon on Mar 1, 2007 | Reply

    Jersey,

    We’re not in a court of law. Pictures are not hearsay. They are evidence. If you actually read what I wrote, you note that I questioned and dismissed the evidence as being not probative. I don’t know what else to tell you. Why argue with me when we are in agreement? 

  10. By Paul Watson on Mar 1, 2007 | Reply

    Craig,

    Force of habit? ;-)
    And sorry if the ‘unadulterated’ part bugged you. Wasn’t my intention, just how I read your piece. If we restrict it to North Korea, it is very good news that the government is finally being honest about how unsure they really are. But the problem is this just keeps forming connections in my head abouth other events so I can’t leave it just at North Korea.

  11. By Craig R. Harmon on Mar 1, 2007 | Reply

    Paul,

    Force of habit?

    You got that right!  :^)

     

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