INTELLIGENCE AND U.S. FOREIGN POLICY: Iraq, 9/11, and Misguided Reform

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INTELLIGENCE AND U.S. FOREIGN POLICY: Iraq, 9/11, and Misguided Reform Paul R. Pillar, Columbia University Press New York, 2011, 355 pages, $29.50

DURING THE 11 October 2012 vice presidential debates, Vice President Joe Biden stated that the Obama administration's initial responses to the 11 September 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi were based on the U.S. intelligence community's immediate assessments of what occurred. For two weeks after the attacks, the administration placed most of the blame for the consulate attacks on a U.S. citizen-made video that purportedly insulted the Prophet Mohammed. Unfortunately, the day prior to Biden's remarks, U.S. State Department personnel involved with the incident, before the House Committee of Oversight and Government Reform, had contradicted the administration's initial response to the incident. Many immediate reactions to Biden's remarks were that he had thrown the intelligence community "under the bus."

In Paul Pillar's book, Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy: Iraq, 9/11, and Misguided Reform, the primary theme is that U.S. political leaders selectively use intelligence to achieve policy goals. In some cases (as in the claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction [WMD], which precipitated the Iraq War of 2003), Pillar accuses the George W. Bush administration of making up its own intelligence and then blaming the intelligence community for getting it wrong. …