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Nicely Done Mr. Barone

Acting on Assumptions with Iran & Iraq:

To learn lessons from history, including recent history, it’s essential to get the history right. That’s why, in order to understand what to do about the mullahs’ regime in Iran, it’s worth revisiting the debate over the intelligence in Iraq.

. . . and that’s just the first paragraph.

A nice summary of the key issues to date and a little reminiscent of Mr. Wehner’s article of a few weeks ago. Both however neglect to point out that one straight-forward way to learn our Iraqi history lesson sooner rather than later is to work our way through the writings and ruminations of the Iraqi government. Those who posses the records are looking forward, not back, so they’re putting some of what they have online for others to deal with. The whole situation is strange to me on many levels. Intel professionals love to talk about the importance of history, but apparently the preference is to let recent history become ancient history before giving it serious consideration.

Iraq is not a mirror of Iran, but having a more thorough understanding of what was going on there back when there was no threat of invasion provides us with a large set of data points that can help prevent similar mistakes from happening again. From an intelligence perspective, there is nothing like reading first-hand confirmation – or refutation – of your pre-war assessments. As someone once said:

The results of any … analysis of captured Iraqi documents may not provide proof positive of any particular pre-war assumption, but the knowledge gained in the trying could help ensure that future intelligence efforts against high value and hard targets are not post mortem affairs.

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji spent nearly 20 years in the US intelligence community. Trained in both SIGINT and HUMINT disciplines he has worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the National Reconnaissance Office. At various points in his career he served as an expert in information warfare, computer network operations, computer forensics, and indications and warning. A veteran of the US Army, Michael has served in both strategic and tactical assignments in the Pacific Theater, the Balkans, and the Middle East.