After another frustrating viewing of Hardball, where Kit Bond was allowed to lie about the President's lies, I fired this missive off to Chris Matthews:
I am writing to ask you to ask a couple of new questions when you have your guests on. I applaud you for your determination to seek the truth about the Plame leaks and for addressing the reasons for the Iraq war but I think that you are not asking one of the most important questions that needs asking.
-Why was the Office of Special Plans created?
-What was the role of the Office of Special plans in providing the intelligence for the Iraq war?
-What products from the OSP were shown to Senators instead of CIA products?
-Has anyone studied the role of the OSP in providing intelligence and why not?
By allowing guest after guest to say 'the intelligence was all wrong' without making this important distinction, you are allowing them to create a false impression by citing the Robb-Silberman report and the Phase I report. The Phase II report, still not done, is supposed to address this office in the Pentagon that provided so much of the bungled intelligence.
I know this is overlong - but here is an easily documented through available reporting - summary. Without inspecting and questioning the role of the OSP, the case for or against the war and intelligence cannot be adequately examined.
Intelligence arrives in the United States from a variety of sources but the data - the raw data - eventually makes it way to the Central Intelligence Agency. There, teams of analysts and experts pour over it and form it into reports, white papers, intelligence summaries and estimates and even the Presidential Daily Briefings. This processed intelligence arrives with caveats and estimates of measures of accuracy in front of policy makers. They make their own decision and then issue orders or ask for support for other orders by resolutions from our legislators.
But that is not what happened here. In this case, the intelligence with the caveats and measures of accuracy did not fit the decision already made. So a new office was formed - the Office of Special Plans - in the Pentagon. This office took another look at the same data - raw data - not processed data. They removed the caveats and analyzed it with an eye to a certain ideology and elevated it into the Whitehouse through the Vice-President's over muscular intelligence apparatus. Another group - the White House Iraqi Group was stood up to market the case for war. They deployed on news talk shows and worked their contacts in the media. When Mr. Bush sought support from legislators and they asked to see the intelligence it was based on - they were shown the data from OSP - not CIA. Caveats and comments were not displayed. Colin Powell was sent in front of the UN with a subset of this weakened intelligence and said "these are not assertions, they are facts," ruining his credibility when it was proved the same afternoon that they were indeed assertions and easily disprovable. The world drug its feet and was insulted and bugged for their trouble. When the weapons inspectors in Iraq asked for the data the US said it had, they were stiffed. A conscious decision was made on the part of the administration to leave Zarqawi in place to buttress this case.
None of this has anything to do with the war except that the same people that screwed up the case for war are still running the war. The fight and plan, or lack thereof, are a separate issue. If you want to play hardball, put the administration's softball aside and pick up the hardball - start asking about the OSP.
Thank you very much.
First Sergeant, United States Army (retired)
Copperas Cove, TX