Paul Pillar is a thoughtful, principled and highly respected figure. His critique deserves careful public consideration and debate.
This is because the crucial question is how to insure that the intelligence community is sufficiently autonomous to render frank, even unwelcome assessments to policymakers whose worldviews may not accord with those assessments. Thus, this is not a question of worrying about spilt milk, but about insuring that policymakers in the future are provided with intelligence that is not shaded to buttress their predilections. Of course, the policymaker may still choose foolish courses of action, but they will be less likely to be doing so with the "cover" of purportedly supportive intelligence.
Ex-CIA Official Faults Use of Data on Iraq: "'Official intelligence on Iraqi weapons programs was flawed, but even with its flaws, it was not what led to the war,' Pillar wrote in the upcoming issue of the journal Foreign Affairs. Instead, he asserted, the administration 'went to war without requesting -- and evidently without being influenced by -- any strategic-level intelligence assessments on any aspect of Iraq.'
'It has become clear that official intelligence was not relied on in making even the most significant national security decisions, that intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions already made, that damaging ill will developed between [Bush] policymakers and intelligence officers, and that the intelligence community's own work was politicized,' Pillar wrote.
Pillar's critique is one of the most severe indictments of White House actions by a former Bush official since Richard C. Clarke, a former National Security Council staff member, went public with his criticism of the administration's handling of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and its failure to deal with the terrorist threat beforehand."