Sunday, June 30, 2024

C.I.A.'s Record

New Yorker - "When the C.I.A. Messes Up"

"Saddam made miscalculations, too. Their gravity became clear once the U.S.-led coalition entered the Gulf War and vanquished Iraq’s military with a thunderous swat. The ground fighting, absurdly one-sided, lasted only a hundred hours. Saddam was cruel, but he was not usually foolish. Couldn’t he see what he was up against?

Actually, he couldn’t. “Like many people in the Middle East and elsewhere, Saddam thought of the C.I.A. as all-knowing,” Coll writes. Saddam assumed that Washington was fully aware of his plans to take Kuwait, and he mistook Bush’s lack of objection for tacit permission. Years later, while imprisoned, he confronted a C.I.A. officer about this. “If you didn’t want me to go in,” the officer recalled Saddam asking, “why didn’t you tell me?”

Stories about the C.I.A. typically take one of two forms. The agency is staffed with either malevolent puppet masters or bumbling idiots—“The Bourne Identity” or “Burn After Reading.” Both understandings are comforting, albeit in different ways. The first pins all ills on an agency so secretive and sinister that average citizens cannot possibly be held responsible for its actions. The second, which suggests that everything’s a farce, offers absolution of another flavor."

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