Tuesday, May 01, 2007
full disclosure coming, sponsored by no one:
A quick hit from George Tenet's At The Center of The Storm on a recurring topic: the CIA's continuing control of the Iraqi National Intelligence Service. It shouldn't surprise that we learn... nothing.

Tenet implies that the creation of the service came as the result of Paul Wolfwitz's discontent with the CIA's Baghdad station chief for not "understanding the policy of the U.S. government," an ignorance preventing the chief from "collect(ing) the intelligence to help that policy succeed." Elaboration or context would have been nice here. In any event, Tenet and his deputy, John McLaughlin, nevertheless agreed, apparently in the spring of 2003 -- the chronology is a bit murky -- that Iraq needed an intelligence service. There's no discussion of it being a CIA asset, merely a "counterpart."

Condoleezza Rice worried about the service becoming "another KGB." Tenet's rejoinder, from page 431-2:
Condi's comment was emblematic of the mind-set we were up against. Policy makers didn't seem to want us dealing with anyone who wasn't "politically acceptable" to them on some firm but unannounced scale. Our point was that Americans were dying, jihadists were running all over the country, and it was time to figure out how to vet Iraqis who had the capabilities to do something about it. ...

Gen. Mohammed Shawani, the hero of the Iran-Iraq war, was finally selected to head (INIS) up and build a service drawn from across the country's ethnic, religious and tribal groupings. He spoke frankly to the Bush administration in the months after the liberation of Iraq, highlighting his concerns to the president and vice president about the developing insurgency. He was the first senior Iraqi official to identify and speak of Iran's hand in destabilizing his country. (He continued to serve as the director of Iraq's National Intelligence Service as of early 2007, although Iran and elements of the Iraqi Shia groupings were working to have him removed because of his anti-Iranian stance.)...
That's really all we get, although Shawani will reappear in 2004 to tell his American "counterparts" that the Iraqi army is little more than "a series of militias." There's no effort to explain INIS's relationship with CIA, or why, exactly, Shawani "continued to serve" despite two elected prime ministers' antipathy toward him, or what effect Shawani's INIS actually has on Iraq.
--Spencer Ackerman