Saturday, June 11, 2005

Bill Gertz Sez GO BLUE!

By some editing glitch, the Washington Times mistakenly placed Bill Gertz’s piece “Analysts Missed Chinese Buildup” on its national news page.

It could have qualified as an op-ed, a plug for Gertz’s scaremongering The China Threat: How the People’s Republic of China Targets America, an infomercial for the pro-confrontation Blue Team of anti-China adventurers, or as a submission for the agony column in which Gertz vents his choking rage that the CIA has not yet purged the analysts who perversely persist in trying to apply standards of evidence, logic, and common sense to data about China.

But news it ain’t.

The hard news lede is followed by Gertz’s determination to spin the report as a whitewash:

Instead, these officials said, the report looks like a bid to exonerate analysts within the close-knit fraternity of government China specialists, who for the past 10 years dismissed or played down intelligence showing that Beijing was engaged in a major military buildup.

"This report conceals the efforts of dissenting analysts [in the intelligence community] who argued that China was a threat," one official said, adding that covering up the failure of intelligence analysts on China would prevent a major reorganization of the system. A former U.S. official said the report should help expose a "self-selected group" of specialists who fooled the U.S. government on China for 10 years.

And just in case Porter Goss needed to know what Clinton-era appeasers need bulls-eyes painted on their backs:

According to the officials, the study was produced by a team of analysts for the intelligence contractor Centra Technologies.

Spokesmen for the CIA and Mr. Negroponte declined to comment.

Its main author is Robert Suettinger, a National Security Council staff member for China during the Clinton administration and the U.S. intelligence community's top China analyst until 1998. Mr. Suettinger is traveling outside the country and could not be reached for comment, a spokesman said.

John Culver, a longtime CIA analyst on Asia, was the co-author.

Among those who took part in the study were former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst Lonnie Henley, who critics say was among those who in the past had dismissed concerns about China's military in the past 10 years.

Also participating in the study was John F. Corbett, a former Army intelligence analyst and attache who was a China policy-maker at the Pentagon during the Clinton administration.

It seems to me that Gertz may get his way, though he may not see his dream of having Suettinger, Corbett, and Henley’s heads mounted on pikes outside the Washington Times’ front door.

Porter Goss’s brief is not to promote CIA analytical independence and the messy controversies that would come with it. The CIA’s job is now to implement White House policy by producing the necessary policy-promoting (instead of analytical) product and initiatives needed to shape public opinion, steamroll Congress, and coerce foreign governments.

So people who claim to know China—but have a tin ear for picking up what the White House wants to hear—may find themselves out of work.

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