McCarthy 911 Commission Testimony

Mary O. McCarthy, the CIA employee fired yesterday for leaking classified information to the Washington Post about terrorist “renditions” in Europe, testified before the 911 commission on May 23, 2003 and made recommendations on how to increase the quality of intelligence warning analysis. She suggested that Congress:

1. Demand a baseline review of Intelligence Community organization and capabilities devoted specifically to warning analysis;
2. Increase the size and expertise of the oversight committee staffs to support such an examination;
3. Authorize and appropriate funds to create more balance between the so-called current intelligence (current situation and near-term outlook) to a methodical analysis of threats such as the one presented above (or according to some other rigorous analytic scheme); Legislate managerial accountability for failure;
4. Mandate the creation of integrated Intelligence Community information technology; and
5. Establish ongoing review mechanisms, possibly through the General Accounting Office or a similar structure.

In supporting these recommendations, she noted that:

“an enduring endemic problem has been that of the existing expectations of analysts and the way those expectations distort the effects of new information. Discrepant information that challenges a belief (e.g., terrorists are likely to attack abroad) is required to meet a higher standard of evidence, and to pass stricter tests to gain acceptance, than is the evidence tending to support the favored hypothesis.”

Further, she suggests that:

“much of the (intelligence analysis) activity has been geared toward answering the policymaker's question of the day, of responding to a specific query, or to an expression of interest.”

These are themes that Democrats have used, albeit with greater vitriol and volume, in their criticism of the Bush Administration. For instance, the Democrats and the press made much of reports that Department of State intelligence analysts had been skeptical of Saddam Hussein’s WMD capabilities, and yet were ignored by John Bolton and others.

And throughout the post invasion period, Democrats have drummed the themes that Bush has “cherry picked” intelligence, overruled policy analysts, and “twisted the intelligence” of honest, hard working career intelligence officers to fit a pre-conceived strategy for dealing with Iraq and the Global War on Terror.

Now that we know that Ms. McCarthy was actively working against the administration, we are left to wonder if she was pushing the “Bush twisted intelligence” story line from inside of the intelligence community.



1:38 PM

Just a few words to say how much I have enjoyed your blog, stumbled across today. Not, of course, that I completely agree with your views on everything !
I don't know what we have in common; I am a British, retired pharmacist, 75 on the 2nd of May. Ex yachtsman and present motor-caravanner. During the next few weeks, DV, my wife and I will be moving all of 500 yards from our present apartment to a 2500 sq. ft. one. We've tried downsizing ---- and we don't like it !!
Best wishes, Dennis


6:33 PM

Den -

Thanks for your kind words. We don't need to agree on much to at least enjoy each other's comments, which I certainly did yours. That said if sailing and my days in the UK are anything (which of course they are), we have a good deal in common.

Good luck with the move and thanks again for commenting.