Intelligence Matters: Oh Dear God Not Jami Miscik

Created: November 11, 2008 10:35 | Last updated: July 31, 2020 00:00

My friend Siobhan Gorman has a great piece in The Wall Street Journal anticipating that Obama won’t significantly change Bush’s intelligence policies, which would be a human-rights travesty and a massive betrayal of his promise for a new beginning.

Read her whole piece for the full flavor and context. I want to focus on just one aspect of it. Namely this:

The intelligence-transition team is led by former National Counterterrorism Center chief John Brennan and former CIA intelligence-analysis director Jami Miscik, say officials close to the matter. Mr. Brennan is viewed as a potential candidate for a top intelligence post. Ms. Miscik left amid a slew of departures from the CIA under then-Director Porter Goss.

Oh. Dear. God. There aren’t many intelligence professionals I hold in less esteem than Miscik. Miscik, you see, was head of intelligence analysis during the 2002 turmoil over Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction and non-existent ties to Al Qaeda, and according to the 2004 Senate intelligence committee report about what went wrong, she pretty much disgraced herself. When the administration insisted on an intelligence assessment of Saddam Hussein’s relationship to Al Qaeda, Miscik blocked the skeptics (who were later vindicated) within the CIA’s Mideast analytical directorate, and instructed the less-skeptical counterterrorism analysts to “stretch to the maximum the evidence you had.” And, as the maraschino cherry on top of this disaster, Miscik decamped to a lucrative position at the now-bankrupt Lehman Bros.

It’s hard to think of a more egregious case of sacrificing sound intelligence analysis in order to accommodate the strategic fantasies of an administration. If there’s an alternative explanation, I haven’t heard it. The idea that Miscik is helping staff Obama’s top intelligence picks is most certainly not change we can believe in.