In 1995 the CIA reported in a national intelligence estimate that a nuclear missile threat from a new foreign power was at least 15 years away. At this point, Rumsfeld acolyte Frank Gaffney, Jr., of the Center for Security Policy (CSP), mounted a campaign against the CIA's estimates; with the aid of right-wing congressional Republicans, he successfully pushed for the establishment of an outside group to provide an alternative assessment to the CIA's--in effect, another Team B."Gates: Less Wrong than Rumsfeld." I like it. Neoconservatives have long been obsessed with creating "Team B"s--shadow intelligence shops tasked with providing a more alarmist worldview than that on offer by the CIA. During the Ford administration, Cold War hawks created the original Team B, which concluded that the Soviet Union was spending a staggering amount on its military, that the CIA was downplaying the threat, and recommended a corresponding arms increase in the United States. There was only one problem: Their findings were totally wrong. Both Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz were associated with that earlier effort.
This time, however, the team--headed by ex-CIA Director Robert Gates--essentially concurred with the national intelligence estimate. So Gaffney prevailed upon the minions of Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich for yet another assessment. Thus the Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States was born, with Donald Rumsfeld as chair. Widely characterized as "bipartisan in its conclusions," the final Rumsfeld commission report was, for all intents and purposes, a Team B redux: The CIA, the report concluded, was wrong, and the very real threat of ICBM attack from a "rogue state" was at most five, not 15, years off. Such an event, said the report, could occur with "little or no warning."
But those who oppose the Gates nomination say much of the evidence of book cooking is in the reports themselves -- and Gates read and approved all reports issued during his tenure as deputy director. Indeed, the Gates period produced a rash of complaints that, on controversial issues like Nicaragua, El Salvador and Iran, the agency tailored its reports to fit White House policy rather than providing objective conclusions. In the world of intelligence analysis, that is the ultimate sin.Right, that will teach me to say anything nice about a Bush appointee. He's a bad dude. Big on the Contra war. Big on El Salvador death squads. (In his memoirs he concedes only that the CIA did "cross the line" on a few occasions, page 395.) And he was an opponent of détente with Gorbachev in the late 1980s. But it is still true that he favors direct talks with Iran, as evidenced by this 2004 task force he co-chaired with Zbigniew Brzezinski. A lighter shade of war criminal, I guess.