Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Notable Quotes, May 10, 2005

On Monday, May 9, National Public Radio's news program All Things Considered broadcast an interview between host Robert Siegel and former chairman of the National Intelligence Council, Robert Hutchings. Hutchings was responsible for coordinating American Intelligence Assessments in 2003 while U.N. ambassador nominee John Bolten was Undersecretary of State. Among other things, Bolten has been widely accused of pressuring intelligence officials to reach conclusions that supported his political positions, even resorting to retaliation against intelligence officials who displeased him. Siegel began the interview by saying that "the New York Times quotes an email from you accusing Mr. Bolten essentially of having fostered a climate of politicization and intimidation in intelligence analysis."

In the interview Hutchings commented on Bolten and also the wider problem of politicization of intelligence in the Bush administration. Notable quotes:

SIEGEL: "The Silberman Robb commission, that is, President Bush's commission that looked into the intelligence agencies, looked at what happened with discussions of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and concluded that they found in that case at least no evidence of political pressure to influence the intelligence community. Broadly speaking, are they being naive about what's been happening with policy makers and the intelligence agencies?"

HUTCHINGS: "Broadly and narrowly speaking they are being naive and I think they really missed the call on what constitutes politicization. Just because the intelligence community successfully resists pressures doesn't mean that there hasn't been an effect. And I worry about the effect on more junior analysts who are led to believe that there is an expected answer to an intelligence judgment, and there's a penalty to be paid for not reaching the predetermined answer. And I saw it at work when analysts were getting more timid about calling things as they saw it. Intelligence professionals always ought to be willing to tell truth to power, but political officials shouldn't make it so difficult on them to do so."


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