Saturday :: Feb 21, 2004

Promise Them Everything, but Give Them Our Rage


by pessimist

The Bush (mis)Administration is strenuously seeking some kind of positive news concerning their Iraq and Afghanistan misadventures before the pre-election news cycles turn to the Democratic Convention. What they seem to be attempting is an extraction, not only from Iraq, but from Afghanistan as well. The obvious motivations are political, but there seem to be other concerns for these moves as well.

One motivation for a departure from any such arena would be informational blindness. Gathering information is the specific function of the intelligence agencies of the United States, but there seem to be some problems there. I'll look at those in the next post.

Suffice it to say, BushCo is seeking the proper spin to distract the public long enough to walk away quickly, whistling in the dark all the way.

I have juxtaposed statements concerning Iraq and Afghanistan with some pertinent observations by current and former CIA officers on the CIA and its intelligence-gathering troubles.

IRAQ: - Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, U.S. Administrator in Iraq, yesterday said the Nov. 15 agreement promising the Governing Council of the Coalition Provisional Authority plans on turning over civil authority to Iraqis by June 30 remains valid, but the exact nature of the government is still to be decided.

AFGHANISTAN: - The United States said Wednesday it would do all it could to help Afghanistan hold historic elections in June, despite warnings that slow voter registration and questionable security could delay the polls. With only around one million of Afghanistanís 10.5 million eligible voters so far registered, UN and aid officials, and even some US policymakers have voiced fears that the polls may slip past their intended date. The number of Afghans registered to vote in upcoming elections reached the symbolic figure of one million Wednesday when a young, female student signed up at a polling station in western Kabul. The millionth voter registered as the new United Nations Special Representative in Afghanistan, Jean Arnault, announced that a large-scale plan to dramatically speed up registration was under consideration.

CIA: - Confronting problems on critical fronts, the CIA recently removed its top officer in Baghdad because of questions about his ability to lead the massive station there, and has closed a number of satellite bases in Afghanistan amid concerns about that country's deteriorating security situation, according to U.S. intelligence sources.

IRAQ: - The United States has an obligation to help the Iraqis develop a democratic structure, which provides "a democratic, unified, stable country at peace with itself," Bremer said. The administrator said the governance of Iraq would acknowledge the Islamic nature of the country, but not be ruled by Sharia. The ambassador promised Iraq's future government will not discriminate against people because of religion, ethnicity or gender. The United States is also spending around $500 million dollars to promote civic and professional groups to help sow the seeds of democracy.

AFGHANISTAN: - State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said that the US government would "certainly do everything in our power to work with the Afghan government to have the elections as promised in June. If it comes down to it and they donít feel that can be achieved, Iím sure weíll work with them on whateverís appropriate."

CIA: - The previously undisclosed moves underscore the problems affecting the agency's clandestine service at a time when it is confronting insurgencies and the U.S.-declared war on terrorism, current and former CIA officers say. They said a series of stumbles and operational constraints have hampered the agency's ability to penetrate the insurgency in Iraq, find Osama bin Laden and gain traction against terrorism in the Middle East. But the officers also said the latest problems point to a deeper problem with the CIA leadership and culture. Some lamented that an agency once vaunted for its daring and reach now finds itself overstretched and hunkered down in secure zones.

IRAQ: - Bremer cited the expansion, or resumption, of pre-war levels of electricity, phone and other services as examples of economic progress. The Kurdish region particularly was singled out for producing a lively economic climate in the last 12 years of autonomy. The U.N. has a vital role in Iraq's reconstruction, he stressed. "I have been urging them to come back since August. They have a role."

AFGHANISTAN: - Afghanistan faces international pressure to hold the elections in the timeframe agreed to during the Bonn peace accords worked out following the fall of the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban regime in late 2001. In December, the United States dismissed United Nations warnings that there was little chance of holding the election on time, and US officials say they are satisfied with the pace of reconstruction, despite lingering problems in some areas. "I am not of the view at this point that elections cannot take place this June, or this summer," said US ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad on January 8.

IRAQ: - Bremer outlined three main components of the process -- security, governance and the economy -- at a Baghdad press conference telecast at the Pentagon yesterday. Security ultimately will be an Iraqi effort, but coalition forces will have to help ensure order at first. Bremer stressed Iraqis will take over civilian control of their own government by June 30, but "tens of thousands of U.S. troops will ensure Iraqi security for some time. We certainly are not going to abandon Iraq."

AFGHANISTAN: - The US government admitted for the first time last month that Afghanistan could miss a June deadline to hold elections in what would be a setback for a US-led reconstruction drive. William Taylor, the State Departmentís coordinator for Afghanistan also implied that presidential and parliamentary polls, slated for the same time, could be held separately. "We are targeted on June," Taylor told the Senate Foreign Relations committee, when asked if the polls would go ahead as scheduled. Pressed by Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, Taylor admitted it was "possible" that the timetable for the election may slip.

IRAQ: - Bremer cited the recently found letter written by terrorist Abu Musab al Zarquwi as proof coalition forces and Iraqi security efforts are having a destructive effect on terror networks. The al Zarquwi letter mentioned America would not leave Iraq and attacks were hardening Iraqis against terrorists. The terror leader bemoaned the coming of democracy to Iraq. "It is increasingly apparent that terrorists can not win, and they know it," the ambassador said. "The last terrorist in Iraq will be killed or captured by Iraqis."

AFGHANISTAN: - Delaying the polls until next year would be unpalatable for the White House, keen to highlight successful elections in Afghanistan and Iraq as key foreign policy successes before President George W. Bush faces voters himself in November.

CIA: - One former officer who maintains close ties to the agency said it was stretched to the limit. "With Afghanistan, the war on terrorism, with Iraq, I think they're just sucking wind," he said.


Source Links
Iraq sovereignty to return in 133 days
United States still wants Afghan vote for June
CIA struggling to spy in Iraq and Afghanistan


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